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The biggest television event in any given year will undoubtedly be the Super Bowl, though it's impossible to peg down how many people are tuning in to see the game itself, and how many people are watching just for the commercials. Brands big and small throw tons of money at creating Super Bowl commercials meant to stay in viewers' minds long after the NFL season has finished. Sometimes they're hilarious, sometimes they're weird, and other times, they're about heroin.
Super Bowl LIII was no exception when it came to delivering oddball ads and thought-provoking TV trailers. (Why, Backstreet Boys, why?) Here, we've rounded up the best of the best for everyone to either rewatch or to enjoy for the first time. Let's kick things off with a spot featuring former CBS mainstay Charlie Sheen.
Planters - Mr. Peanut As An Action Star
Viewers got to see trailers for action-packed projects such as Avengers: Endgame and Alita: Battle Angel, but it was possibly Planters that delivered the most pulse-pounding spot of the night. (Not really, but play along.) The nut-tastic commercial features Mr. Peanut zipping around town in his big peanut-mobile, all so he can stop MLB vet Alex Rodriguez from regretfully snacking on kale chips. Fact: I would probably watch a Mr. Peanut animated series in this vein.
The Best Part: Charlie Sheen's self-aware cameo, of course.
Olay - Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy-esque Return
Sarah Michelle Gellar rose to fame as a horror genre icon, both for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and for films like Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer. She returned to those roots with this Super Bowl ad, and thanks to the presumed use of Olay products, she doesn't look like she's aged very much in the meantime. Not even being chased by a killer can give the actress stress wrinkles. Just don't expect her to return for more Buffy.
The Best Part: Gellar's face in that comparison picture. Who took that picture, developed it and then framed it?
Bud Light #1 - Throwing Shade At Miller And Coors
It's not often that brands go directly after their competition in TV commercials, but the dilly-dilly folks at Bud Light took things up a notch with this year's Super Bowl ads. Boasting about the lack of corn syrup in its recipe, Bud Light took some blatant shots at Miller Lite and Coors Light, which both do use corn syrup. Thankfully, the voyage-heavy ad was far more amusing than a list of ingredients. Sea monsters make everything better.
The Best Part: The Bud Knight getting hit by lightning.
Bud Light #2: Stealth Game Of Thrones Promo
What started off as another light and airy Bud Light ad took a most dramatic and surprising turn. Though the Bud Knight seemed ready to joust, he didn't know the power of his opponent, the Mountain. Amazingly, the "Mountain and the Viper" battle from Game of Thrones Season 4 got referenced, which led to one of Dany's dragons flying by and immolating everything and everyone. Did that really happen?
The Best Part: Fire is cool, but I was most blown away by the moment when the Mountain gouged out the Bud Knight's eyes off-screen, cluing viewers in that this wasn't your average beer commercial that doesn't have eye-gouging.
Audi - Cashew Catastrophe
How many people out there thought that Audi's ad was indeed the traditional car commercial that it was intentionally aping? (It actually looked like a years-late parody of the Interstellar trailer.) But instead of actually getting behind the wheel of a dream vehicle, the guy in this ad is actually just having a near-death experience after choking on a cashew. Not as big a twist as a Game of Thrones crossover, but still surprising.
The Best Part: The defeat on his face at the end, as compared to the joy on his face when he got behind the wheel.
The Handmaid's Tale - Reaganomical Season 3 Teaser
Twists were definitely a theme of the night, and Hulu took a surprise approach with The Handmaid's Tale. In order to tease its upcoming third season, The Handmaid's Tale looked back into history and referenced the "Morning in America" ad used as part of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign in 1984. It may be morning again in certain parts of America, but there is still much darkness to be thwarted in Gilead. Will the women find freedom in Season 3?
The Best Part: "Wake up, America. Morning's over." Chills!
Burger King - The Andy Warhol Experience
Viewers were no doubt baffled to see late artist and pop culture provider Andy Warhol sitting down for a Whopper meal in Burger King's big Super Bowl ad. In case anyone thought it was a newly created stunt, this actually was Warhol eating a Whopper, as it was filmed by Danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth for his 1981 art movie 66 Scenes from America. The ad only showed the first part of the video, but you can watch the whole thing above. Why? Because it's there, duh.
The Best Part: That this footage exists in the first place.
Mint Mobile - Chunky Milk
The company Mint Mobile is not one that is synonymous with incredible Super Bowl commercials, but it made its mark in a splendidly disgusting way with this year's big ad. Nothing about the faux commercial-within-a-commercial was right, and the thought of chunky-style milk is enough to instantly turn my stomach, but I'll definitely think about Mint Mobile the next time I'm unsure about dairy freshness.
The Best Part: All those chunks pouring out of the carton. So terrible and so wonderful at the same time.
The Twilight Zone - Do Not Adjust Your Televisions
Genre fans are more than thirsty for Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone reboot, which is heading to CBS All Access on April 1. (No fooling.) This trailer had perhaps the biggest bait-and-switch of them all, as it actually started off by pretending to be the official Super Bowl telecast. Before long, though, everything starts glitching and Peele arrives to take us into the place between science and superstition.
The Best Part: That it all happened inside the stadium. I absolutely love how the door moment looks.
Amazon Alexa - Harrison Ford, Technology & You
Last year's Super Bowl saw Amazon's voice assistant Alexa getting one of the more hilarious ads, and viewers got another star-studded commercial this year as well. The concept concerns failed plans for Alexa-friendly devices, which his already a solid idea. Throw in celebs like Harrison Ford, Broad City's Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Forest Whitaker, and Queen on the soundtrack, and I've never been more interested in having a smart hot tub.
The Best Part: When Forest Whitaker can't hear the podcast playing inside his mouth.
Honorable Mention: bubly - Michael Bublé Confusion
There isn't anything high art about bubly's Super Bowl commercial, although one might consider it art if one is high. The pitch is simple: iconic crooner Michael Bublé's surname sounds like the lowercase-leaning sparkling water brand bubly. This probably went right up the flagpole at pitch meetings, too, with the hardest part of the process presumably being "contacting the singer's publicist." I'm pretty thirsty now, though.
The Best Part: His pronunciation of "Dave" is genius.
Sadly, we'll have to wait a whole other year until we get to see what the next batch of Super Bowl trailers will look like. Fortunately, there are lots of great midseason television premieres to enjoy in the meantime.