(a young teenage girl looking at her phone and eating lasagna over top of plinky piano music)
Female Narrator: As Jill puts her cell phone down for the first time all week, she realizes that Stouffer’s lasagna is topped with fresh cheese. It browns beautifully. Fresh cheese and a touch of aged parmesan is what gives us our irresistible flavor.
(the phone buzzes, her parents look mildly annoyed)
(the hapless dad shrugs)
Narrator: When you start with the best blend of cheese, you get the best lasagna. Stouffers.
And then there’s
(a family is sitting down for dinner, and a young teenage daughter is speaking)
Kim: …and so he ran into Justin Ashley, like literally ran into him, so awkward…
(the parents are exchanging Looks of Bemused Tolerance; the little brother in a karate uniform plays with a dinosaur or something idk)
Kim: …and so he spilled soda on his shirt…
(the narration starts over the sound of her talking)
Female Narrator: This story had thirty minutes left until Kim realized that Stouffer’s mac and cheese is made with real cheddar, aged to perfection for six long months. When you start with the best cheddar, you get the best mac and cheese.
Dad: So what about Jessica?
Kim: What about her?
Female Narrator: Stouffer’s. Made for you to love.
These commercials seem innocuous. They’ve got innocently sprightly music and bright lighting, a soothing female narrator. But boil it down.
“As Jill stops availing herself of the tool she has for being in contact and communication with her friends no matter where she is…”
“This story about Kim’s life and day and experiences that she’s actually probably in the minority for sharing so openly with her parents had thirty minutes left, but…”
Stouffer’s pasta: feed it to your teenage daughters to make them shut up.
Like, okay, maybe it wouldn’t be polite for Jill to be texting at the table if, say, she and her parents were at a formal dinner with the extended family or something, but it’s safe to say given her parents’ reactions being raised eyebrows and skepticism and not glares that she’s allowed to text at the table. They, being parents, just seem to not really understand that shockingly, text messaged communications can be meaningful. Who do they think she’s texting, spambots who are just giving her something to do because she needs to be playing with her phone so she’s cool? In all honesty, she’s probably communicating with one or two good friends at any given time. And sure, not every conversation is equally meaningful (inquiries about wanting to go somewhere, watch something, etcetera) but not every conversation you have with you parents at the dinner table is meaningful (“so honey how was your day” “fine” “learn anything?” “not really”).
But what do I know. I grew up eating dinner on the couch watching Friends like a heathen.
And okay, so sometimes daughters do try to engage their parents in meaningful conversation at the table. Clearly what happened that day at school was important to Kim, or else she wouldn’t have been relaying it so eagerly; and like I said above, it’s pretty rare, even, that Kim would be the sort of teenage girl to want to share that much gossip with her parents. (See the above “so honey how was your day” scenario). But there are her parents looking at each other like oh, silly girl let’s just humor her. I kind of feel like when Kim chipperly replies “what about her?” after her dad attempts to ask about Jessica, Kim isn’t actually distracted that fully by the macaroni and cheese. She’s just realized her parents are patronizing her and hey, she’s only a young girl and knows little of the ways of war.
But what do I know. While I’ve gotten some “oh my god please stop” when I talk from parental figures, I’ve also been lucky enough to have some genuine listening from them.
–your fangirl heroine.