In September, my colleague Megan Reynolds dubbed Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton’s “America’s Worst Couple,” and the title stuck—everything The Voice pairing does feels formulaic and stilted, like their slow road to marriage is part of an elaborate marketing scheme where neither party is a great actor. But hell, at least they’re having fun, right? Even if no one else is? Love is alive?
On Sunday, Stefani, Shelton, and their unfortunately fine pal Adam Levine, also of The Voice, starred in T-Mobile’s Super Bowl commercial. The joke is this: it is a few years in the past, and Stefani calls Levine to tell him she’s ready to start dating again. He asks what she’s looking for in a partner, and she rattles off, “I’m sick of L.A. guys. I want someone completely different, maybe from another country. And someone cultured and sensitive and who’s not threatened by a strong, confident woman.” The connection is spotty, her call cuts out, and Levine only hears, “I’m sick of L.A. guys. I want someone completely country, uncultured and threatened by a strong, confident woman.” He schemes—“I have your guy”—and sets her up with Shelton, who, I guess, is playing a slovenly version of himself, yelling over appetizers and wearing spurs to their date. He’s too rich to be the everyman in real life, so that bit doesn’t work, but it is the heart of the joke.
In the end, a narrator says, “Don’t trust your love life to just any network,” which doesn’t totally make sense. Wasn’t it because of the inadequate service provider that Stefani and Shelton got together? Isn’t it... good that Levine’s cell phone was unreliable? I shouldn’t be fixated on that—it’s just another example of America’s Worst Couple infiltrating everything—but I am only human, and this commercial sucks.
But hey, at least T-Mobile avoided any short-sighted unity posturing, or celebrated our country’s resiliency during covid-19, preying on collective vulnerabilities to sell, like, beer that tastes like piss. The bar, as always, is on the ground.