I’ve watched many commercials recently. There are the commercials where companies say things like “We’re here for you” and “Your money matters to us even though you likely have less of it.” There are the Texas-specific ads about how we’re all in this together, narrated by a morale-raising Matthew McConaughey, and the ads about how tech products are helping companies work remotely, and how racism is bad.
But the commercial I’ve watched the most, and that I can’t stop seeing, is about the all-new Nissan Sentra, starring Brie Larson and Twitter comedian Alyssa Limperis. My brain does not exist anymore. In its place is this car commercial.
In the commercial, Limperis plays a dejected employee who’s just been told over street tacos by her boss that he won’t be promoting her. Larson plays herself, but the version of herself that drives around Los Angeles (probably) in the all-new Nissan Sentra and ambushes dejected women demoralized by their male boss’ lack of acknowledgement, showing them how the all-new Nissan Sentra doesn’t compromise, and that they shouldn’t either.
I know, it is actually as deranged as it sounds. Larson leaning into this “this car doesn’t take any shit and neither should you” ideology is capitalist feminism incarnate. Limperis’ hair is up at the beginning of the commercial but DOWN and BILLOWING in the wind as she exits Larson’s all-new Nissan Sentra, as if this car pep talk has unleashed her uncompromising inner girlboss. Gone are the days where car commercials were about “family” and “travel” and “freedom” and “masculinity” — women buy cars too, and we will make them want to buy the all-new Nissan Sentra.
It’s really not that deep, and I am unnecessarily analyzing an empty advertisement for what it is. It’s just that I keep seeing this commercial everywhere. In between workroom and runway scenes on RuPaul’s Drag Race. In the commercial breaks of Little Fires Everywhere and Nancy Drew, and any other show that I watch on a streaming platform where I can’t skip commercials, or refuse to pay to skip them. No promotion. Drop the taco. Look at this backup camera. Go get ‘em girl.
I have no idea how many times I’ve watched this commercial, but I’d argue at least 100. That is my estimation simply because it took me a few dozen watches to realize that the other woman is shouting “BRI, BRI BRI” when Larson starts backing up. For months, I just assumed she was yelling gibberish to get Larson’s attention.
And then it took me a few more dozen watches to realize that the other woman is Limperis, whose iconic Twitter videos include numerous impressions of women from Boston. Limperis is usually very funny, but she is no match for the weirdness of this ad. It’s the perfect balance of confusing and mundane. Very much the opposite of a fun Twitter video impression of random kinds of people you’ve encountered in your own life. Congrats to Larson and Limperis on gettin’ that all-new Nissan Sentra money, and you’re welcome that I’m too apathetic to pay for ad-free streaming, I suppose.
Screenshot via Nissan USA/YouTube; Remix by Samantha Grasso