HBO’s New Ads Highlight the Pain and Horror of Watching TV With Your Parents

A blog about business and economics.
April 22 2014 2:58 PM

HBO’s New Reason You Need #HBOGoplease

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Yikes.

Screenshot from YouTube.

A teenage girl is watching a graphic sex scene in Girls when in walks her middle-aged father. He pauses to munch a chip and then offers some fatherly wisdom: “See, honey? You have the right to speak up. You know, it’s your body.” The kicker text appears on the screen: “Might be a good time for HBO Go.”

HBO is cashing in on every teen and twentysomething TV-viewer’s worst nightmare in a new set of seven ads, which play on the cringe-worthy awkwardness of watching shows like Girls, Game of Thrones, and True Blood in a family setting. (An adultery scene in True Detective, for example, puts Dad in a reflective mood: "You know, I never cheated on your mother. ... Not that I didn't have opportunities.") The narrator swoops in with a rescue plan at the end of each ad: “HBO Go. The best of HBO on all your favorite devices. Far, far away from your parents.”

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HBO describes the new marketing campaign as “hilarious” and says the segments are “bound to hit home with millennials.” The network is promoting the ads on BuzzFeed and its YouTube and Twitter sites, and is also asking viewers to create content with their own “awkward HBO viewing moments” using the hashtag #HBOGoplease. Wistful pleas of young watchers have already flooded Twitter (though many are from HBO’s agents on college campuses).

But it seems as though the people getting asked for #HBOGoplease will be parents—the same parents you want out of the room once you've got #HBOGothankyou. And if you watch all of the commercials, you’ll notice that Mom and Dad don’t mind taking in the raunchy content alongside their kids—in fact, they seem to get a kick out of making their children squirm. Why would they want to guarantee their kids will never spend time watching TV with them again?

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

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