Lena Dunham loves The New Yorker with all her kale eating, Obama voting, brownstone Brooklyn heart, so it stands to reason that she’d jump at the chance to make an ad for the magazine’s new iPhone app. And what a strange ad it is.
The video opens with Lena playing a version of herself called “Lanny Dolan” on an old time-y, Johnny Carson style talk show hosted by Jon Hamm. As always, Jon Hamm does a great job playing a cartoon sexist, and the intentional awkwardness reminds me a little of Zach Galifiniakis‘ “Between Two Ferns.” However, besides seeming a bit cheesy, Lanny Dolan does little to parody Lena Dunham, instead using an “ironic” vibe to distance herself from her ass kissing praise of The New Yorker while still actually saying it:
“The New Yorker’s a very very reputable magazine: arts, culture, opinions, a real tastemaker, a lot of the most important minds of our time have written for The New Yorker.”
There’s an amusing bit with Hamm about how it’s basically like a horrible version of Rolling Stone, and then it cuts to a segment in which Lena plays “the editor of The New Yorker” (with Adam Karpovsky as her assistant!) and once again combines gentle satire with actually plugging the app. I think this bit is funnier, because it shows us what we imagine Lena Dunham imagines when she fantasizes about being editor of The New Yorker. “I’m the editor of The New Yorker…I’m incredibly busy editing things!”
As ads go, it’s not bad, but I can’t help wishing Lena Dunham would go a little farther with the self-parody. She only goes there a tiny bit at the end when she starts to say “I don’t do charity work,” and we’re meant to think her promotion of The New Yorker app is what she thinks of as her good deed for the day. (Tell me more!) With all the criticisms people have leveled at her, she’s certainly got a lot to choose from. If she really wants to earn her comparisons to Larry David and Woody Allen, she’s going to have to dig a little deeper.