2012: The Year in TV Moments

How Samsung Ruined the Sexiest Commercial of the Year
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Dec. 28 2012 12:15 PM

2012: The Year in TV Moments

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Mrs. Claus gets frisky.

FOX, Dec. 16, 1:25 p.m. ET

Once upon a time there was a commercial for a phone I’ll never buy, advertising a technological frill I’d never use, implying a spice-up-the-relationship trick that I would not recommend, that was nonetheless the sexiest thing I’d seen on TV in quite some time. I’m speaking, of course, of the ad in which a wife sends her husband off on a business trip with a racy video, beamed directly into his Samsung phone via X-ray technology or whatever, with the sly admonition, “Probably shouldn’t watch it on the plane.”*

Needless to say, this ad is silly. If there is anything we have learned from the travails of Hulk Hogan, it is that if a video of anyone doing anything sort of sexual exists on a Wi-Fi-enabled device, that video will somehow make its way to the Internet in the way that an air bubble trapped underwater will, eventually, make its way to the surface. This husband and loving father, who seems so cute and beardy and clueless, will, in the rush to make his plane, leave his phone in the cab. Nefarious elements will find the phone. Within days, his mother-in-law will be asked at book club: “Was that your darling daughter I saw on YouPorn? “

But it doesn’t matter. For in that moment, as the wife gives that little waggle of her eyebrows, the husband all at once realizes what she’s saying, and she gives a chipper wave and a “Say bye to Daddy!”; they are the very picture of modern, technologically enhanced marital bliss. They are sexy and adorable. I would do anything to be like them (but I wouldn’t do that) (if by do that you mean buy a Samsung phone).

And then anyway, in the first quarter of Dec. 16’s early NFL games, Samsung ruined it by unveiling the ad’s follow-up—a shot-for-shot remake, like Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, with Santa and Mrs. Claus in place of the couple, and two elves in place of the kids. I love this ad even more than the previous one—not just because of general senior sex-positivity, but because it is so clearly the act of a company and an agency taking it juuuuuuust one step too far. It was such an obviously bad idea, but they did it anyway. The best thing about television in 2012 was that there were hundreds of channels, and they all had 525,600 minutes of airtime to fill this year, which means that just as there were times that everything went right, there were also plenty of chances for everything to go wrong.

Correction, Dec. 28 2012: This article initially punctuated the sexy wife's punchline with an exclamation point. She doesn't exclaim; she admonishes slyly. (Return.)

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.