By In Stuff

You don’t have to be lonely

OK, so I’ve been avoiding this for too long. It just seemed too obvious, I guess. But if you want to embrace life, really embrace it, you should pause every now and again and acknowledge true genius when you see it. Even if it is blatantly obvious.

This is the greatest television commercial I have ever seen.

That is the commercial for the Farmer’s Only dating site, and it’s so brilliant — so utterly dazzling — that, like a great novel, I’m constantly finding something new and unexpectedly luminous in it. What I think makes the Farmer’s Only commercial even better than legends of the past like the Snuggie or The Hawaii Chair is that it hits an extraordinary high point, then somehow hits another higher point, then hits yet another even higher point and then finally, when you believe that the volume is all the way to 10 and there’s no place left to go, goes one higher.

Our story begins with three utterly unappealing people who apparently are supposed to be farmers though, realistically, they seem to have escaped from the 1978 set of Hee Haw. One wears suspenders and looks about 55. I shall call him Horatio. A second wears a green cap, boot, has a potbelly going over his jeans and stands near a dog. He shall be , for our purposes, Cinna. A third, the smart one apparently, wears a red cap and seems wistful in a Gomer Pyle sort of way. Let us call him Gomer.

It’s a bold move starting a commercial seemingly aimed at farmers by casting three actors who look like the awful and insulting cliche image of farmers that might be dreamed up by somebody who has never been outside of Los Angeles. But the genius has only begun.

The “farmers” are, of course, standing in front of a barn. Our tale begins with Horatio, who is telling a story.

Horatio: So I’m reelin’ her in, and that fish was that big.

Horatio holds out his hands so they are approximately 22 inches apart.

Cinna: No, it was only that big.

Cinna holds out his hands a mere 12 or so inches apart. The camera pans to the resting dog.

Gomer (as he looks at his cell phone): I gotta find myself a nice country girl already.

Horatio leans over too look at this magical device of Gomer’s. Cinna points at it suspiciously.

Cinna: On that thing?

Gomer: Yep.

The camera cuts to a shot of Gomer holding the phone. On it is a young woman in shorts who is looking at us but also, apparently, fishing. Anyway she his holding some sort of fishing rod.

Horatio: Wow, she sure is pretty.

Cinna: And she likes to fish too!

Camera cuts to dog, who also seems to want to see the girl but cannot get anyone’s attention.

Gomer: Boys, I’ve found myself a date. Gotta go.

Gomer exits.

At this point — we are now halfway into the commercial — and we have already achieved a pretty high level of excellence. Let’s say you are the target of Farmers Only. Let’s say you are a country woman who doesn’t particularly care for the city, who likes the simple American life and would like to meet a nice guy with similar interests and pastimes and passions. There are many millions of people like this, lonely people who, through no fault of their own, keep running into dead ends when it comes to meeting people. Here’s a dating site that might fit their lives, a dating site with no pretensions — it’s CALLED Farmers Only, for crying out loud. This really could be the place.

OK: Could there be a bigger nightmare on earth than putting your profile on the dating site and having THESE THREE GUYS poring over it?

But, the commercial has barely warmed up. Gomer has exited. And we are left with Horatio and Cinna in a familiar scene, back in front of the barn.

Horatio: I’m tellin’ ya, that fish was this big.

Again, he puts his hands apart 22 inches. The camera cuts to Cinna, who seems changed somehow.

Cinna (holding a new contraption called a computer): “What’s the name of that dating site again?”

Yes, you know women everywhere are thrilled THIS GUY figured out how to use a computer. But now the commercial explodes. There’s the rosebud scene in Citizen Kane. There’s the final scene in Sixth Sense. There’s the final angel’s appearance in “A Christmas Carol,” and the scene where Boo Radley comes to the rescue in “To Kill A Mockingbird.” There’s that extraordinary moment in the Bible when Moses asks in a roundabout way for the name of God, and from the burning bush God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”

Cinna asks “What’s the name of that dating site again?” And … well … three astonishing words.

The … dog … speaks.


I have come to realize that I have spent much of life in search of an answer. But I never knew the question. Now, as I close in on my 47th birthday, I finally know what I seek. The question is: “Why does that dog speak on the Farmer’s Only commercial?” Why? What combination of genius and madness and inspiration and drunkedness compelled the makers to have the dog speak? What was that pitch meeting like? What were they going for? How did they find a speaking dog?

I am no closer to an answer now than perhaps I will ever be. And if the commercial ended here, it would be magnificent, utterly magnificent, but no, it pushes forward because as Horatio and Cinna look down at the dog and then at each other in amazement — apparently their dog had never had something interesting enough to say before — a lovely little song begins.

You don’t have to be lonely.
At Farmers Only dot com.

OK, wait a minute, that song is, what, 11 words long (assuming Farmers Only dot com is four words). That’s not many words. So how could they have so totally whiffed on one of the eleven words. Shouldn’t it be: “You don’t have to be lonely WITH Farmer’s Only dot com?” Wouldn’t that be the point — that with Farmer’s Only out there you don’t have to be lonely? But that’s not what it says. It says, “At.” Why would somebody be lonely AT Farmer’s Only? Is this a worrisome possibility? And if it is, should they really be advertising it in the commercial?

And so, finally, with that song, we think we’re at the peak of Olympus. The country folk have conquered both their fear or loneliness and technology. The dog has spoken. The song has been sung. We are sure that it’s over. But, no, not here — there is one more push. There is the piece de resistance.

And that is: The slogan which appears as the commercial ends.


It’s almost the perfect commercial. There’s only one way I could even imagine it being better. And that is is if the final words had been “Les citadins ne comprennent tout simplement pas.”

That’s my best effort (brilliant reader Mr. Furious’ help) of “City folks just don’t get it” in French.

64 Responses to You don’t have to be lonely

  1. Mark Coale says:

    I hope the sequel features one of them marrying a city gal and bringing her to the country.

    The Chores. the Stores.

    I want my wife. Goodbye, city life.

  2. tombando says:

    Jack Morris trained the dog, see….

  3. Mr. Furious says:

    I think “Les citadins ne comprennent tout simplement pas” would be a bit closer to what they were going for.

  4. Andy says:

    I am sure @Mobute thanks you for using the link he suggested.

  5. Art Vandelay says:

    I think the dog spoke only because he feared Horatio and Cinna’s amorous advances…

  6. Drew says:

    I feel so cheated. We have a commercial that runs in Missouri for Farmers Only that has people wistfully walking through a field or some nonsense, but nothing having to do with a talking dog or these caricatures of country folk. I guess I need to move out of the Midwest to see real art.

  7. gwynn1984 says:

    This is my 6 and 9 year old sons’ favorite commercial. They are constantly singing the jingle, of course followed by “city folks just don’t get it”. I’ve begged my wife to set up a profile, just to see what happens, but so far she’s refused.

  8. Mark Daniel says:

    How late at night do you have to be awake watching TV to see a commercial like this? And what channel must you be watching?

  9. My theory is that this is a way of getting more city men into the database. What’s more appealing to a jerk from the city than the idea of competing with a bunch of buffoons for the attentions of an attractive, gullible young country girl who doesn’t speak?

  10. The first time I saw that commercial I thought to myself “I hope Joe sees this and writes about someday; it’s perfect for a lengthy Poz deconstruction.”
    There are three things that annoy me about the ad;
    1.) The way they keep saying “That fish….” A real fisherman would say “That Trout” or “That Walleye” or “That Catfish” instead of the generic “That fish”.
    2.) The stylized logo at the end of the ad, sort of a cartoon rendering of the famous Grant Wood painting “American Gothic”. The problem is, the painting (from what I’ve always read/heard) actually depicts a farmer and his daughter, not his wife.
    3.) You would think that a dating site would want to show a happy, cheerful couple, but the farmer and the woman in “American Gothic” appear to be the most grim, joyless people on the face of the earth.

    • Section 405 says:

      According to the notes at a recent Grant Woods retrospective at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Museum, the man in the painting was Grant Woods’ dentist, and the woman was Grant Woods’ sister

  11. Travis says:

    This feels like something Bill Bryson would have written. Nice piece. Also, HA.

  12. Jim says:

    This commercial is brilliant in much the same way as the old Earnest commercials from the Eighties (Know what I mean, Vern?). Jim Varney made a handsome living off of that character. Before the movies, I saw LOCAL commercials in DC, SF and Hawaii that ended with Earnest saying ‘Ya know what I mean, Vern) immediately before getting hurt some way (fingers crushed, ladder falls). The shtick never grows old, just changes with the times.

  13. kmassey99 says:

    Such a great commercial that the Red Reporter folks named their daily minor league reports after it.

  14. Mark says:

    Maybe the dog is related to the one from Bush’s Baked Beans:

  15. Jack Spellman says:

    Very minor quibble with a brilliant deconstruction and analysis. Near the beginning of the commercial…

    “Cinna holds out his hands a mere 12 or so inches apart. The camera pans to the resting dog…”

    This is doing a major injustice to the dog, which is doing some of the greatest dog-acting in the history of dog-acting. The expression on its face in its half-second reaction shot manages to communicate so much: “Good gravy, not again… I have heard this dumb-ass story a million times… I am in hell, surrounded by two-legged idiots… If only my two-legged could somehow find a mate and remove me from these horrible, soul-sucking circumstances…”

    That shot, just a handful of frames, totally establishes why the dog is compelled to pipe up at the end of the commercial. Pooch is the Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep of dog actors, I tell you.

  16. AaronB says:

    Grew up on a farm and still farm a little with my Dad (180 acres), but live in in a town of about 100,000 people now an hour from said farm. My 8 year old son loves the farm and riding in tractors, etc.

    Here was his observation about the commercial, “Dad, it’s no fair, that website is for ‘farmers only’, I can’t look at it!” He clearly didn’t realize that it was a dating site.

    He was really mad about it.

  17. Chris says:

    I live in the middle of Iowa. How could I have not seen this before?

  18. You are right, the greatness of this ad just keeps on coming. Are they literally promoting a dating via reeling in a fish, I mean a woman who can fish? Yes. Yes they are. Thank you,, for – much like sardines in a tin – you have packed as much as possible into our 30 seconds of viewing pleasure.

  19. John Gale says:

    Well, maybe I’m just one of those city folks who “don’t get it,” but I was pretty disappointed by the commercial. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t bad. It was fine. But there are literally dozens and dozens of *much* better commercials out there. I feel like Joe just tried to convince me that the ending of Revenge of the Sith is the greatest artistic achievement of the last 30 years (oh wait, that was Camille Paglia).

  20. Julie Sayles says:

    Well it worked for me. I’m a believer.

    • Beverly Lewis says:

      It is very nice it worked for you, Julie Sayles. It most likely does for many. I thought I had met every form of users and player out there but the one I met on this site put them all to shame. I believed him and was good to him right up to the minute he said ‘I need to tell you the truth’. Any chance you are from Wooster, Ohio? Beverly Lewis

      • Julie Sayles says:

        Sorry to hear that Beverly. I encountered many playerson different sites. I just don’t understand what why someone would just lie. Unreal. My now husband was the first man to contact me shortly after I joined. I guess I just lucked out. I wish you the best.

        • Beverly Lewis says:

          Thank you. Congratulations and much happiness to you both. I didn’t mean to pry, the person I was spending time with was also spending time with a lady from Wooster, Oh named Julie or so he said. It has only been a couple of weeks since I was told ‘ the truth’ and your name caught my attention. I am sure there are many sincere and wonderful people on that site, I just didn’t find the one. Thank you again and all the best to you, also.

  21. sknicholls says:

    Genius, pure genius.

  22. Steve Cole says:

    I’m obviously missing something here. The greatest commercial I ever saw was the “Lemmings” commercial Apple ran once (and once only – now that was genius) during a Super Bowl in the late 80’s or early 90’s. It was visually arresting and hilarious. Even Apple haters like me were forced into a moment of self-conscious nervousness about our unreflective certainty that the PC would reign forever. The commercial was brilliant because it forced us to question our certainties. Here’s a link if you’ve never seen it

    The Farmer’s Only commercial invites us to revel in our contempt for uneducated yokels, to revel in our most pathetic certainties about the people who are beneath us. How hard can it be to get a date if idiots like these guys can score with the sexy babe (whose sexiness for these guys, and perhaps also for the losers who seem to be the target of the commercial, is probably enhanced by the fact that she isn’t allowed to say anything) that we see for a moment? Good god, these guys are so dumb they need a dog to explain things to them. Maybe there’s still a chance for a loser like me. How does such a message (and it is clearly the message of the commercial) not pander to the worst sort of contempt that people have for those they think are beneath them? What could possibly be brilliant about a commercial that seems designed to appeal to those whose sense of self-worth comes from their judgments of others?

    I’ve never met a woman who would find it thrilling that a man had learned to use a computer, and most of the women I know would find it offensive to assume that they would find anything thrilling about a man who was too dumb or too obtuse to know about computers (I’m also dubious that such a man exists). Ask your wife, Joe. Given what you’ve written about her in the past, I’d be shocked if she didn’t agree with me.

    There was another Super Bowl commercial about ten years ago that hilariously listed the five things that needed to be included in a commercial if it was going to be mentioned in the inevitable rankings of commercials that follow every Super Bowl. One of the things was animals that seem like humans, most obviously animals that can talk. I guess I just can’t see the genius of now including a talking dog in a commercial – it’s already been done, and it’s already been mocked.

    But, like I said, I’m obviously missing something.

    • berkowit28 says:

      You don’t seem to have read Joe’s critique, to understand what he means by “best” – that’s what you’re missing. Read it.

  23. wow…

    variations on a theme by Posnanski…

    it’s not for us to wonder why
    this fine commercial makes him cry
    though he attempts to boost his cause
    invoking several suspect laws.

    • Steve Cole says:

      I wonder could it be a lie?
      He’s so brilliant when he argues for Bly-
      leven’s worth, but here it seems he was
      perhaps unaware of what he does.

    • Gary says:

      I never need to wonder why
      a commercial would make Joe cry.
      I just join the loud applause
      from human hands and doggy paws.

  24. Shonepup says:

    Re: Steve Cole

    Are you serious? Um, tongue in cheek.

  25. Dave says:

    Not many of we farmers are in the commercial making business, or you could see the stereotypes we have for you city people.

  26. Bill Caffrey says:

    The number of people who seem to have missed that Joe means this commercial is good in the same way that Plan 9 From Outer Space is good is sort of astounding.

    • John Gale says:

      No, I get it. I just disagree. See, I don’t think it’s good on any level. Intentional. Unintentional. Whatever. It’s not one of those “so bad it’s great” things like the Journey “Separate Ways” video (simultaneously the best and worst music video ever made) in my view. It’s just uninspired. I mean, a talking dog in 2014? “Hilarious” stereotypes about country folk? Pass.

  27. A. Mashtin-Bakir says:

    Sometimes a fish is not just a fish.
    To wit, they guys without dates are bragging about the size of their fish, while the third guy is getting acquainted with a girl who “knows how to fish.”
    Incidentally, they comment that she is “purty”, not “pretty.” Because that obviously builds cred with the target audience.

  28. shane o'neill says:

    what Dave said

  29. critterjams says:

    I don’t think this’ll help but the commercial that we get in Wisconsin features a lot of talking animals as well.

    “Do you think that Dave will ever find his true love?
    Not hanging around us all day!”

    The most shocking thing about this is the upload date. It just started running locally, but on Youtube this commercial is over SIX YEARS OLD! I guess people like me just don’t get it.

  30. Scott P. says:

    I am hoping Joe will take on the commercial for the Perfect Bacon Bowl:

  31. James Reeves says:

    Hi guys,
    On a similar bent check out this New Zealand commercial
    Well worth a watch.

  32. bluesabriel says:

    We have a different one here in Florida and it is truly a masterpiece, as well. My husband and I don’t have cable so we didn’t see it until just recently and I thought for certain it had to be a joke.

    But it isn’t, because here is the punchline. My husband informed me that that’s how my brother-in-law met his current girlfriend.

  33. Jordan says:

    Loved it but thought but there were two typos you probably want to fix real quick:

    Horatio leans over too look *to look

    Anyway she his holding *is holding

  34. […] writer/honorary GG contributor Joe Posnanski did the same thing, and man oh man is his post like 50x better than mine.  Go read that one real quick — he does a much better job with it than old […]

  35. tess says:

    let me tell ya having used that site that it is SCARIER than what you get on the “regular” dating sites. I live rurally, not rustically and those I encountered can I just say they weren’t REGULAR folk, it was NOT rocket science why those men can’t find relationships. I went out on 10 different dates and those were the WORST dates ever. It gave me a new respect for staying alone!

  36. Todd Blood says:

    As Horatio in the commercial. I can tell you, I just loved reading all your comments. Such nice people. Pleasant and friendly. Quick little note. The DAY we showed up to film this little gem. The owner of called the director and said, “now don’t make it funny, I don’t want to offend any farmers” The director looked like he swallowed that fish. But they played it during the AFC & NFC playoffs and dang if they didn’t play it during the Super Bowl. Plus 1,000’s of times more and that’s just here in LA. I guess city folks do get it after all.

  37. Todd Blood says:

    It really was. Very nice and professional people. Worked with some of them since. Happy New Year.

  38. Peckerwood says:

    They recently changed it to Really Ugly Fat Ass

  39. G. H. D. says:

    Why a young girl in the picture with old ugly guys????? Absurd and tiresome to see such junk. Can’t believe farmers are not upset about the way they are being portrayed.

  40. bill chambers says:

    isint this site for ugly people who cant tell time?dont they molest the goats to get the good cheese?does each date come with a set of false teeth? or do they just buy there gums at the trading post?heres a tip?if they could bottle that manure smell they coulld thow in a bottle of shit with the moonshine.only a farmer would waste time making flash ya can buy it in a store.a store is a clean place unlike the barns they kiss there sisters in.

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