Television with the most erudite Caveman
It’s not really news that the Cavemen ad campaign from Geico (the characters are usually referred to as the “Geico Cavemen”) is being adapted into a television series, that is the characters are being taken from the ad series and ABC is considering a sitcom with the characters at the center. Slate has an article analyzing the history and possibilities.
Two comedic elements here: 1) the lighthearted satire of interest-group pique, 2) Neanderthals as urbane sophisticates. An amusing dual premise, but the elevating genius is completely in the details… The caveman (en route to or from a vacation) totes a wooden tennis racket in a canvas shoulder bag. The implication of these careful cultural signifiers: The caveman has grasped not just literacy and reason but also the affectations of the modern hipster aesthete… At the campaign’s ancillary Web site, CavemensCrib.com (it lets you poke around their apartment), we learn that the cavemen are into (among other things): blogging, Tolstoy, yoga, smoked Hungarian paprikash, and Paddy Chayefsky movies. They have poetry magnets on their fridge … in Esperanto.
The ad folks are clearly having a blast curating the cavemen’s highbrow lifestyle. But the joke, unlike the cavemen, is not evolving. We get it: Cavemen are historically portrayed as brutish oafs, not au courant intellectuals. This limited approach is no problem (in fact, it’s a plus) in a 30-second ad. But can it sustain multiple episodes of a TV show?
I don’t really share the writer’s concerns, even though he has a point. What the article seems to be missing, ultimately, is that the cavemen in their characters, reversal of expectations aside, seem to be very very similar to Frasier, when it comes to the total package.