It wasn’t too long ago that the internet was a-buzz about blatant and distracting product placement in another Netflix series, House of Cards, with a least one commentator declaring the death of the series’ credibility. He vowed to never watch again (but later recanted after learning that no money changed hands).
Apple product placement in movies and TV is nothing new. In the 90s, Macs were featured prominently in Mission Impossible, Jurassic Park, Independence Day and Seinfeld.
More recently, Apple placement hit a new high with Modern Family’s “Connection Lost” episode, which was shot entirely within the interface of Claire Dunphy’s MacBook using apps such as iPhoto, Facetime and iMessage.
The Emmy-award winning episode was widely praised by critics and fans for its originality.
Apple product placement in Joe Swanberg’s Easy is just flagrant and ubiquitous.
However, I’m not here to complain. I was a little distracted by it, but to be fair, given the subject matter and the times we live in, the proliferation of Rose Gold iPhone 6s Plus’ and other Apple products seems perfectly natural.
While the integration is not as groundbreaking as “Connection Lost,” it’s easier to forgive than it would be in other storylines.
A series that features selfie artists and a Tinder-curious married couple would necessarily include iPhones to sustain a willing suspension of disbelief with its audience. You wouldn’t expect these urbane, artistic denizens of Chicago to use Android.
Swanberg’s hallmark is his improvisational approach that lends an authentic feel to the acting and storytelling in his films.
Though the lines may be improvised, the inclusion of Apple devices obviously is not.
Yet the net effect is no less authentic. It’s not too much of a stretch to believe that Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, for instance, would check her iPhone between swimming laps at the gym. In the same episode, it makes sense that she communicates with her ex-boyfriend via Facetime on a gleaming MacBook Pro. (The laptop gets a full five minutes of screen time during the half-hour episode).
Some of the placement is distracting. Kiersey Clemons texting on her iPhone while she is struggling to pilot her bicycle through traffic on a freezing Chicago night. Orlando Bloom repeatedly scratching his ear with his right hand, which just happens to display an Apple Watch.
Still, within the universe we are presented with in Easy, which feels hyper-real and modern, and is after all, our universe, this is what people do. Their phones are always out, snapping selfies, tapping out texts, answering (or ignoring) calls.
These devices are engrained into every minute of our lives. And now, into our entertainment, too. Joe Swanberg has succeeded in making it feel natural and seamless.
It may appear that he has sold out, but that’s only because we all have.
Photo Credit: Netflix (includes frame grabs from Easy)