The Real Rob Lowe

Posted on November 1, 2014 by

You may have seen the commercials – especially if you watch pro sports – with the two Rob Lowes:

The handsome, successful, cool and wealthy Rob Lowe, and his nerdy, geeky and creepy counterparts, well-played (with the help of talented makeup and wardrobe artists) by Lowe himself.

These ads for Rupert Murdoch’s Direct TV are a version of standard celebrity product endorsement with an alter-ego twist.

So big deal, right?

We’re used to seeing performers making a cool million or two (or more?) for a few day’s work. Alex Baldwin, Morgan Freeman, Ellen DeGeneres and Tina Fey all push high-interest, high-fee credit cards. (Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re using the extra dough to fund a good cause).

But there’s something I find particularly irritating about the Lowe spots.

It takes a special kind of hubris for a celebrity to hold up his real self for us to admire while making a fool out of lost souls and deadbeats.

Satirizing and disparaging shlumps and outcasts are always good for a laugh. Great comic actors excel at this. They show us the fool but the fool within us all. Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners), down on his luck and desperate to make something of himself, finds redemption at the end of every episode; his humanity and self-worth revealed.

Lowe’s characters are just gross.

Maybe it’s ridiculous to be appalled by a particular television commercial when so much of the advertising industry is itself so offensive.

But my takeaway from those Direct TV ads is that it’s the greedy, corporate ass-kissing Rob Lowe who may be the real self-centered creep.

Comments (4)


  1. Jeff Polman says:

    What really bothers me about the Lowe ads is this assumption that ANYONE who willfully or not, has cable TV, is either slimy, half-retarded, or a bedwetter.

  2. Buddyg says:

    Each Lowe pair is really a caricature, one with purportedly no imperfections and the other with no redeeming quality at all. In that way, he’s making fun of himself; he has played a wide range of characters in his career (and has placed himself in a few embarrassing situations involving videos and nannies) and this is almost a mini-retrospective. And it’s an extension of those other Directv ads where having cable leads to major off the chart disaster. None of this can be taken literally, including the connections between DirecTV and white bread “virtue” and cable and underachievement, awkwardness or creepiness. So none of the Lowe characters he plays — even the one projected as admirable, are the real Lowe. He’s taking advantage of the image and rep he’s developed, and in that sense — much as I disapprove of what I understand his politics and extreme self-centeredness to be — he’s well-suited to play a chameleon with no tangible identity.

    And in a similar sense, he’s like the Allstate “mayhem” guy, who in part succeeded because he carries a certain menace, and by now has momentum.

  3. Rey says:

    Yeah…I agree with Jeff Polman. This generalization is terrible…furthermore, the reason I don’t have DIRECT TV is for one single reason…Rupert Murdoch. If his name shows up on anything I am opting for an alternative…period!

  4. SSM12 says:

    The Rob Lowe commercials always rubbed me the wrong way. Not only representing cable customers in the worst stereotypes possible, but Direct TV always lies about Direct TV’s services (HD capacity, ‘wireless’ connections, etc), while deliberately ignoring Cable offers not just good TV service, but Internet and Phone in some cases.

    All in all, kind of wish Direct TV was sued.

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