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Uber’s first UK TV advert “Effortless Night” imagines a hellish date in the city

Somebody help these poor, poor people.

Have you ever been on a first date and thought, “Well, that was beyond awkward, but think how well it could have gone if only we had made 12 different stops?” No? Well, Uber thinks you have! The ride-hailing app released its first TV advert this week, in an attempt to improve its reputation after a political backlash, sexual harassment charges and questions over the future of CEO Travis Kalanick. It’s not the world’s most impressive effort.

The advert sees “Grace” and “Miles” on a first date in an unspecified city – during which they get no less than SIX Ubers. SIX. Who has ever left the house and thought, “Hope tonight goes well and I manage to drop 75 quid on at least half a dozen painfully slow car trips across town”? “Grace” and “Miles”, that’s who.

First, delivered by Uber, “Grace” and “Miles” meet (seemingly for the first time) at a gig for the much-hyped postmodern hip hop trio “Hip Hop Trio”. It’s awkward, they can’t decide whether to go for the handshake or the hug and they bump into each other in the crowd. But they get on with it, and have a bit of a boogie alongside their fellow cardboard music-lovers. Before you can say “Hip Hop Trio” they’ve decided to hop in a car in order to head to – a street food stall.

Yes, a cart that sells food on the street. A stall of food specifically designed for passing pedestrians. The kind of food stall that would probably create crowds in the neighbouring streets of a venue hosting “Hip Hop Trio”.

But “Grace” and “Miles” are mavericks, and decide it is worth their time and money to pay someone to drive them halfway across town so they can sample the delights of this specific street-side stall. They buy two tiny tacos which “Miles” promptly drops on the floor, squirt ketchup everywhere, and (stomachs rumbling and clothes soiled) decide that what their night really needs is more travel sickness, and promptly jump in yet another Uber. Yep, they got an Uber to a street food stall, that they didn’t actually eat at, that wasn’t even near their next location.

They arrive via Uber number three at a jazz club. “Miles” has had a costume change and is wearing “Grace”’s sparkly jumper to hide the ketchup stains from the street food debacle. We can only assume they both spent the ride in stony silence, texting their friends about how they’ve been on this date for three hours and have forgotten each other’s names and still haven’t eaten – but somehow they felt their lips moving and their voice say “Yeah, go on then,” when the prospect of going somewhere else was floated and now they’re stuck, stuck, for at least another hour when they live in the opposite direction and any semblance of fun conversation dried up before the support act finished at “Hip Hop Trio”. But they’re at a jazz club now because isn’t that cute.

Barely five seconds pass at the jazz club before “Grace” is calling another fucking Uber – surely to go home, I hear you scream? But no! They get an Uber to some steps. Some steps! Big stone steps! They go to the steps, and they stand there for a bit, and do absolutely fuck all, and get in another Uber! Why! Why is this happening to these people! Who are they running from!?

They ball themselves – sweating, frantic – into Uber number five. Presumably, finally, this is the car that is taking them to the safe house. But no, friends, they go where any two people always hope to end up after a four-hour date that has involved five car journeys, two gigs, and absolutely no food or booze – bowling! BOWLING! I can’t see from this distance, but is “Grace” crying? Is this man holding her hostage? We can never truly know.

Because they are absolute wankers, “Grace” and “Miles” end their five-Uber date by simply strolling out into the road like they haven’t been desperately hiding from the pavement for the last four consecutive venues. It was at this point that I felt my confused, melted brain sliding out of my ears. Off they trot, hand-in-hand, just two sweethearts having a totally fun time, as though they’re on the most normal date in the world and not exploring a dystopian hellscape populated only by cardboard bystanders and driverless cars.

It starts to rain, and “Grace” calls Uber number six faster than you can say “weather-related surge pricing”.

I think I’ll just stay home, thanks.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

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SRSLY #99: GLOW / FANtasies / Search Party

On the pop culture podcast this week: the Netflix wrestling comedy GLOW, a new fanfiction-based web series called FANtasies and the millennial crime drama Search Party.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen using the player below. . .

. . .or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on StitcherRSS and SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s assistant editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links

GLOW

The show on Netflix.

Two interesting reviews: New York Times and Little White Lies.

Screen Rant on the real life wrestling connections.

FANtasies

The show on Fullscreen.

Amanda Hess’s NYT column about it.

Search Party

The show on All4.

For next time:

We are watching Happy Valley.

If you’d like to talk to us about the podcast or make a suggestion for something we should read or cover, you can email srslypod[at]gmail.com.

You can also find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at]gmail.com, or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!

PS If you missed #98, check it out here.

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