Who would have thought that Britta could actually make a good therapist? I mean, sure she got all the technical stuff wrong when trying to explain to the group that it was the “edible complex” that Pierce had with his father. But she got the gist of it – he has daddy issues. And that at its core is what “Advanced Gay” was all about.
It’s no secret that Harmon and his writers have been drawing comparisons between Pierce and Jeff for some time now. In a lot of ways, they are very similar to one another, both in their personality and upbringing. And while this is a bit of a mean way to put it: Jeff was terrified in this season’s premiere when he realized he was heading down the same path that would eventually lead him to be like Pierce in his old age. So it felt appropriate that in an episode centered around Pierce, Jeff was heavily interwoven into the plot and themes of it. And because Pierce is easily one of the most misunderstood members of the group (I mean hell, he was pretty much the villain of season two) – it was great finally getting some more depth to his character, and seeing why he is the way he is.
Pierce’s father is a terrible person. As Shirley put it: “he’s like the Abed of racism”. Even in his old age, Pierce cowers at the sight of him, and wants to do whatever it takes to please him. Getting to see Pierce (a man who is often crass and boastful) become so little, really helped us empathize with him. I’ve always liked Pierce anyways, but more so than any other member of the group, he always felt the most wound up. Understanding why he is so crude and always feeling left out, is something that I’ve wanted to know for a while now. “Advanced Gay” did a great job painting that picture. When your father wears a toupee made out of elephant bone (because it’s the only thing that can be guaranteed to be “pure”), how could you not sympathize with his offspring? Pierce’s constant need to impress others and fit in now makes much more sense, when he has a father that is so hard to impress (even on a genetic level no less!).
Jeff stepping in to support Pierce when his father makes him cancel the “Gay Bash”, was nice. Because as I’ve mentioned in my other reviews, this season has been a lot more darker with the group and their toxic relationship. So it’s always great to get these moments where the group will ban together, and tackle a cause in the defense of a member. It’s also an interesting situation, because leading up to season three, Pierce and Jeff have not been getting along. At the beginning of this semester Jeff was trying to get Pierce out of the group. So to finally see a moment where Jeff is willing to stick up for Pierce, it really shows growth in the group and how their dynamic is evolving. Of course as Britta points out, Jeff takes personal offence to Pierce being told what he can and can’t do by his father, because Jeff has issues with his own father. His denial of this was in part, a big reason why he was quick to stick up for him. Still, I would like to think that regardless, Jeff would take offense to anyone trying to harm Pierce – as we saw in season one’s “Basic Genealogy”. Even that episode dealt with another one of Pierce’s family members using him. It’s safe to say, he hasn’t had it easy. Jeff throwing the “Gay Bash” anyways, and getting Pierce to enjoy his party, was as much for himself as it was for Pierce. When Jeff finally confronts Pierce’s father in the hospital (after he causes Pierce to have a heart attack), he wasn’t just talking to Cornelius Hawthorne, he was unloading the baggage he has with his own father. The same way Jeff beat the crap out of Pierce for posing as his father in “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking”, Jeff was letting out emotions pent up his entire life. It will be interesting to see how Jeff finally deals with his father when he finally confronts him in person.
Even Troy’s plot tonight was somewhat in line with the “daddy issue” theme. As is often the case, we feel the pressure of our parents (or others) to be something we might not want to be. While Pierce was being pressured into keeping his families legacy in check, Troy was being pressured into taking advantage of his skills. Following up from season one’s “English as a Second Language”, Troy continues to have an almost supernatural knack when it comes to fixing things. I originally found the plot in that episode to be bizarrely off kilter and awesome. So getting another episode that expanded on this was more than welcome. It helps that the absurdity of Troy being a plumber as some “higher calling” was amped up, when Vice Dean Laybourne kidnaps Troy to recruit him to join the Air Conditioning Annex. The “Skull and Bones” society initiation ceremony was over the top, and quite frankly one of the funniest things I have ever seen on Community. Having an astronaut serve Panini, and a “black Hitler” present just so no one would believe them if they had told anyone else about the initiation was hilarious. The ridiculousness of the air conditioning annex being portrayed as some secret society with immense wealth, is something I hope the show uses more. John Goodman is always a pleasure to watch, and it’s just funny to think such an organization is hiding in a community college. Troy seeking advice from Abed led to one of the best scenes between the two, where Abed acted like he was Troy (since Troy could tell himself, but no one else). And somewhere in the conversation, Troy became Abed, and their wires got crossed. All of this led to an extremely warm moment, where Troy realized all he wanted to do is watch TV with Abed, and he turns down Laybourne. While the moment wasn’t the central focus of the episode, it only furthers my belief that Troy and Abed are two of the best written characters in television. Their dynamic is just undeniable, and I’m extremely happy with their development across these three seasons. It’s hard to imagine the show started out with Troy as a Jock, and Abed as a weird pop culture geek. But when they do their secret hand shake, it actually means something.
The episode concludes at Cornelius Hawthorne’s funeral. Jeff has officially killed Pierce’s father, and Pierce is okay with that. It seems both fitting and ironic that Jeff would be the one to finally liberate Pierce from a life of obedience and feeling intimated by his father (something he himself has yet to conquer with his own father). Ever since the beginning of season three, I’ve felt Pierce has been in a much better place than he has ever been. He’s more laid back, and more accepting of his place in the group. Simultaneously, the group has accepted him (except Jeff, who had to warm up to the idea). “Advanced Gay” both explained why Pierce is who he is, while also giving him the sort of redemption that comes with his biggest problem being…dead. Now I just can’t wait for Jeff to finally face his internal issues, and really open up. If anything, this episode gives us a glance at all the possibilities this season has to offer with these characters. Getting to see more of these kind of episode for the rest of the group is exciting, and will in the long run be a major pay off for the series, and the characters you have come to love.
Some Random Lines:
- “Unclog one toilet with me, and tell me you don’t feel something”.
- Pierce: “At your cervix. Oops, sorry I thought you were a lady”.
- Pierce: “In the moist towel business we call them towel heads”
- Pierce: “I’m going to sue the pants off that lady”. Annie: “I don’t think that’s a lady”. Troy: “Annnnd why do you want his pants off?” Pierce: “Shut up! I only wanted his pants off when I thought he was a lady”, Jeff: “So you were attracted to him?” Pierce: “The only thing I’m attracted to, is taking him to court and eating his ass alive”. Pierce: “That’s not what I meant, stop putting gay things in my mouth”.
- Britta: “Wow, Pierce. Congratulations on meeting the minimum requirement for open-mindedness”.
- Troy: “I’m going to eat spaceman paninis with black Hitler, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
- Troy: “No, I’m not going to be a plumber because they have to deal with poop”.
- Jeff: “You are going to make a terrible therapist. If you need someone to talk to about it, I don’t recommend you”.
- Britta: “I can excuse racism, I draw the line at animal cruelty”. Shirley: “You can excuse racism?”.
- Jeff: “This isn’t about fathers. This is about a long suffering community, with a constitutional right to wipe whoever and whatever they want”.