The Times Square Ball Drop is an institution, and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve its faithful steward for the past 49 years. So, uh, what happened with those terrifying Planet Fitness festivities?
Thursday night on ABC, hosts Ryan Seacrest and Lucy Hale joined legendary guests like Cyndi Lauper and Gloria Gaynor in celebrating the start to 2021. Thanks to the pandemic, the evening had to be socially distant — a difficult task for an event typically attended by upwards of a million people — and of course, those physically present had to take proper safety precautions.
But pretty much everything that happened after that was A Choice.
Instead of allowing spectators to respectfully keep their distance using floor markings like we all do at the grocery store, the event’s sparse attendees were rounded up inside of branded barricades. The result was an extremely depressing lineup of pseudo-playpens for adults — all filled with bored-looking partygoers decked out in Planet Fitness gear.
Listen, this year has been a rough one, but I can’t imagine deciding that I wanted to end it decked out in Planet Fitness swag and sitting in a playpen in Times Square.
— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) January 1, 2021
Sparkly face masks and branded clothing could be seen everywhere, but at-home viewers were particularly taken with the inflatable hats evidently issued to all present.
Can’t believe I’m just at home wearing this inflatable Planet Fitness hat for no one
— Chase Mitchell (@ChaseMit) January 1, 2021
Surrounding the hat-wearing bystanders was a sea of similarly inflatable tube men (yes, like the kind you see at a car dealership) — a number of which were actually “interviewed” on air by ABC reporters. Think The Ellen Show‘s virtual audience, but somehow even more Black Mirror.
Backing the tube dudes up? A bunch of human dancers, who performed seemingly the entire night. The vaguely tragic performance marathon served as a constant reminder of Planet Fitness’s “Move It” campaign on social media, which encouraged all of us at home struggling to simply withstand the final evening of this monstrous year to, I don’t know, do jumping jacks or something.
On Twitter, viewers speculated just how much the elaborate advertisement was costing Planet Fitness (and fellow sponsor Kia, which wasn’t quite so ostentatious in its branding.)
We couldn’t find a decent guess in our research, but it was probably too much considering how many gyms remain closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and, oh yeah, a lot of people watching actively hated it.
Planet Fitness sponsoring a socially distanced New Years Eve in Times Square is about as fucking stupid as I expected this year to end.
— chris person, Game Freak (@Papapishu) January 1, 2021
Here’s to capitalism and cardio. Happy 2021 to everyone but Planet Fitness.