People Are Losing Their Minds Over a Confusing Commercial for 'Ms. Monopoly'

Robin Zlotnick - Author

May 9 2020, Updated 8:58 a.m. ET

The commercial starts with an appalling statistic: "Women hold just 10 percent of all patented inventions." The Instagram-filtered footage proceeds to introduce us to three young women who are working hard to change that number. 

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They are inventors and innovators. They are showing the world that women deserve to be heard. It's not until one minute and 45 seconds into the commercial that it becomes clear, though, what it actually being sold. Turns out, it's Ms. Monopoly, a "female empowerment" version of classic Monopoly. This is not a joke.

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Not only is it not clear what is being sold until the very last seconds of the ad, but the game is also an...insane thing? To exist at all? Although the ad was just posted to Twitter, where it went totally viral, Hasbro actually released the game in September 2019. 

Critics of this version of the game jumped out immediately. While it's supposed to empower women, it seems to be doing exactly the opposite. 

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According to CNBC, in Ms. Monopoly, "female players receive $1,900 at the beginning of the game, compared with $1,500 for male players. Girls also get $240 each time they pass 'Go' on the board, while boys get $200. Instead of a real-estate mogul, Ms. Monopoly invests in female entrepreneurs." Yikes and a half. 

While the concept of the game might be OK, the execution is, um, lacking. Maybe instead of reversing the gender pay gap, the game should acknowledge reality! The solution isn't just to give women more money. 

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That doesn't address the root of the workplace and real-world struggles women face every day just because they're women. And that commercial isn't doing the game any favors. 

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We don't want to be knocked over the head with messaging about something we deal with every day. We're women. We know what it's like to be treated disrespectfully. We don't want our board games to remind us of that too. 

Ms. Monopoly just seems to get it wrong in all the ways. The game even claims that Ms. Monopoly is "self-made," but she's also the niece of Mr. Monopoly, so she is definitely not!

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Somehow, Hasbro seemed to make the wrong choice at every turn. And these wild choices become extra pertinent when you learn a little bit about the history of the original Monopoly game. 

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(Hint: It was designed by a woman and meant to teach about the perils of unchecked capitalism. The idea was basically stolen from her and she received no royalties after it became hugely successful.)

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So in a sense, the spectacularly off-message direction of Ms. Monopoly squares perfectly with the insidious origins of the original. None of it sits right. Ms. Monopoly has been out and quietly terrible for months, but now that The Internet has found it, it will not escape unscathed. 

As one Twitter user writes, Ms. Monopoly seems to say, "Want to know what business would feel like if you were part of the patriarchy?" Instead, it maybe should have explored what life might look like if no one was part of the patriarchy. 

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