You weren’t ready for this Super Bowl. I wasn’t ready for this Super Bowl. First my 49ers got 86’d. Then came the letter from Dylan Farrow. Then game day brought the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Outside the leafy confines of Colorado and Washington State, who still wanted a Super Bowl? Luckily, it turned out to be this Super Bowl…the Hume-an Super Bowl.

Fox’s own Brit Hume recently caused a ripple of news stories when he defended the recent conduct of the Super Bowl host state’s governor by saying, “I would have to say that in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old fashioned tough guys, run some risk…” Oh, so the feminized atmosphere was what the weather forecasters were worried about! Funny thing about that. Turned out that a Hume-an Super Bowl made for one of the easiest Super Bowls to digest in quite some time. (Is it fair to use “Hume-an” as the adjective when he was describing what he didn’t like? I don’t know, are “Orwellian” and “Kafkaesque” fair? Moving on!)

If the logic of blockbuster summer films is that the next one has to be the MOST BIGGEST EVER, the logic of previous Super Bowls was somewhat similar. There’s always got to be MORE than before – more money on ads, more halftime foofaraw, more reasons this will be the best game evah. But in a welcome respite, the production choices for this year’s NFL championship game seemed dialed-down from years past. Despite the nominal best-O vs. best-D showdown, someone in Central Planning seemed determined to perhaps feminize, certainly normalize the annual #1 show of the year.

What do I mean by normal? Let’s say it started with the first opera singer to sing the national anthem, Renee Fleming. I realize opera isn’t necessarily what some people mean by back-to-basics, but skipping the breathless chase to get the hottest singer of the moment certainly is. Fleming was dignified and splendid. She was matched by Bruno Mars at halftime, so charming and effervescent that Sade called to say she felt outclassed. It seems like someone else in Central Planning wasn’t quite ready to hand over the show to someone other than Beyoncé or anyone in the baby boomer hall of fame (for example, Madonna, Prince, The Who, The Stones, etc), so they padded Mars with exactly one song by Red Hot Chili Peppers, an odd choice considering that RHCP, U2 and Metallica are pretty much the most successful bands of the last 35 years. You pad with Keli$, not Anthony Keidis. But hey, Mars was terrific, and I think we all appreciated the focus on music instead of stagecraft. We don’t need to see 100 plates spelling out Beyoncé’s name or dozens of dancers doing dive motions.

The commercials were a little less like the typical frat party and closer to seeing the cleaned-up, dressed-down cast of How I Met Your Mother at their bar. The New York Times has already commented on that here. Even in the beer commercials, nowhere did you see anything like a Swedish bikini team or mud-wrestling Barbie doll-alikes. Heck, even the Axe Body Spray ad was about world peace. You know something’s different when even the Axe and GoDaddy commercials aren’t hitting you over the head with Victoria’s Secret-like sexual titillation. And I haven’t even mentioned the amazing GoldieBlox commercial of girls dumping their pink castles and tiaras. If all this was caused by the creation of the NotBuyingIt application, a reaction to last year’s sexist commercials, then the makers of that app have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Certainly Fox made the opening paragraph of this article wrong. The Times thinks that a change happened because of social media pressure; I can see other, more cynical calculations. Fox could have calculated that their mancave base is secure, and with a couple of (surprising) Golden Globe Comedy wins under their man-belts, it was time to branch out. (I also liked the promotions for postgame shows. In the past it was WATCH THIS OR ELSE. This year it was We got New Girl! We got Brooklyn Nine-Nine! We got Fox Sports 1! They’re all right after the game, somehow! Watch whatever works for you!) Perhaps more important, after a season of horrible press, the NFL didn’t want to present a concussion-laden, bully-excusing League; this would be a Super Bowl fathers could watch with their daughters.

What do more Hume-an, feminized, normalized ads look like? Let’s just use cars as examples. Ford kicked things off with Rob Riggle and James Franco talking about making history. And that’s fine, but when I see James Franco say “I’m Rob Riggle,” I don’t think Nearly Double, I think Severely Doobie. Maserati hired the girl from Beasts of the Southern Wild and turned their car experience into more of a movie epic than Noah looked like in later ads. (Let me get this straight: 12 years after A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly are in two movies together inside of two months? Are we allowed to skip any one that doesn’t have him solving math problems on the camera lens while she looks on adoringly?) Chevy really wanted to prove Hume right – one ad with pro-gay subtext or even pro-bestiality? (lot of love lyrics during the cutting between that cowboy and that cow), and a second ad about cancer awareness. Well, this week I expect to see Chevys sporting new rainbow and pink ribbon bumper stickers. Meanwhile, whatcu talkin’ bout Willis? “Honda car safety” was probably never the answer until today. Hyundai: sure, everyone loves women refusing Johnny Galecki. Can I ask, when you called Richard Lewis to see if he was available to sit in the back seat, did he cut you off in the middle of the word “available” with “YESSSS”? Kia: if Larry Fishburne offers me the red key or the blue key, I think I might ask which one won’t have me riddled with 10,000 slow-motion bullets. I guess just ignoring that question counts as Hume-an. Finally, the arc of Bob Dylan’s career was somehow summarized in two commercials. The first one featured one of his songs selling you a hippie organic yogurt in a pastoral American town (uh, with a bear). The second one featured Dylan himself and it almost made you feel bad for liking the first one. This was about as close as it got to the Chris Christie that Hume loves. We’re men, we drive tough cars, we play pool, and we have American pride, now buy a Chrysler. But it was still gentle. (And the real use of Dylan should have been him singing, “Every Bronco must be stoned.”)

The football game in question supplemented the amped-down production values by providing all the thrills of a decomposing sponge. How the heck was Denver ever favored to win this thing? In January, they’d barely beaten the listless Chargers and were slightly more convincing against a Patriots team more depleted than the cast of After-M*A*S*H. Seattle had fought and won two wars against two actual Super Bowl contenders, the Saints and the 49ers. If this was the Doobie Bowl, or whatever pot-related euphemism we’re using (remember, these two teams did have the top seeds), Denver was the one playing like they were smoking Mile High Club. I hadn’t seen a Seattle defense this dominant since Amanda Knox’s last trial. Down by three touchdowns and forced to pass, the announcers asked if Peyton Manning was truly going to challenge Richard Sherman, and I thought yes, but if he challenged him too much, the media would then complain that Sherman went from Compton to Stanford and gave back to his community.

Give it to Bill Simmons (he’s the most important non-player in sports, if you haven’t been paying attention) – he may have failed every other sports bet over the course of the season, but he did pick the Seahawks at the outset; sometimes the big things count more than the little ones. Kudos also to Russell Wilson, who just gave an argument to 5’11” quarterbacks everywhere, and Seattle in general; I’m beginning to realize what an uphill climb my 49ers will have to get to next year’s Super Bowl, despite it having our number (49). But in the humane, Hume-an spirit, let’s quickly mention yesterday’s real winners. You know those Super Bowl grids where everyone gets randomly assigned two digits, and your buddy gets 3 meeting 7 and makes all the money and you never do? Yesterday’s game began with a safety! Hallelujah! 8-0 won the first quarter! 2-0 won the half! A good day for the underdog – on your couch. And also the first time I hadn’t played one of those grids in two decades.

I don’t pretend that every Super Bowl will be Hume-an from now on. I seem to remember an early 90s feminist streak that crested with the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings and led to decades of The Man Show, Girls Gone Wild, certain Howard Stern stunts, a Lindsey-Paris-Britney-obsessed media, et al. This could go sour again, but it’s nice to think that in the age of social media there are more reasons that it won’t. One Super Bowl isn’t everything; it’s more like a nice speech from Pope Francis, a welcome change of tone. For the parishioners who pray to the gods of television and sports, this was Easter-Christmas, and it was better than anyone might have expected. You know, when Bruce Willis said to hug your loved ones, I actually did. Die Hard, but live soft. I could get used to this.