Episode 306: Advanced Gay
3×06 – “Advanced Gay”
Urbana Champaign. These two words are the key to understanding the third season of Community. There’s a reason the character Shangela played in this episode had that name.In Champaign there is a Greendale Drive. And almost directly next to it is… Chevy Chase Drive. These two streets are conveniently located a few blocks away from where Digifreak went to middle school and high school. So this explains Champaign. What about Urbana? Digifreak’s dorm, where he binge watched season 1 of Community freshman year of college, was located in Urbana. So why is this significant? The writer of Advanced Gay is Matt Murray. Digifreak’s first name is Matt. During the commentary of this episode Gillian tried to get Matt to talk about conspiracies and the free masons. He couldn’t then for reasons that Grrr. Argh. will get into in her review of “Curriculum Unavailable.” But now, I can finally reveal…
There are three characters that have important arcs in this episode: Jeff, Troy, and Pierce. Let’s start with Troy because his is mostly disconnected from the rest of the action. Yet he’s the first of our main characters shown. Troy spends much of this episode interacting with guest characters. Jerry the Janitor, Murray, and of course John Goodman. Troy is spending less time with his friends because he’s contemplating what he’s going to do with his future, something that may not involve the study group (season 5 foreshadowing). The only other character Troy interacts with (besides some stuff with Tron-Dean and this) isAbed. Troy practices for Basic Human Anatomy by pretending to be Abed pretending to be Han Solo in one of the funniest bits of episodes. Butt Soup Barnes is supposed to keep it a secret that these two entities are vying for him, but there’s another reason he retreats into a gimmick to tell his best friend what’s going on.
This episode spends more time in air conditioning than plumbing. Part of this is because if you have John Goodman you should use him as much as you can, but part of it is because we’ve already seen Troy’s plumbing skills in the first two seasons. We still get some great moments with Jerry Minor, who feels at home in Greendale. “Unclog one toilet with me and tell me you don’t feel something.” But it’s not until Troy is captured and brought before these guys that the storyline really gets rolling. This is where the storyline starts getting weird. The astronaut making paninis and Black Hitler seem a bit out of place in Greendale, but that’s purposeful. Personally, I’ve always found them to be somewhat funny but a little lacking. But they’re only there for a moment, as Jerry gives some exposition to the study group which leads to us learning that Shirley smiles at murder-suicide. Troy proves how great he is at air conditioning and we head towards the room that holds THE room temperature. This storyline largely focuses as setup for future Troy (and Abed) storylines, but Goodman’s monologues and Glover’s wonder save it from being just that. The strangeness of what Troy is going through sometimes gives off a similar vibe as the trampoline storyline in Aerodynamics of Gender. Of course, it ends with Troy choosing neither air conditioning nor plumbing. Troy chooses Abed. In future episodes Troy will go through more inner turmoil, but for now he can play with his best friend.
The other half of this episode concerns the main character of season 1 (Jeff) and the main character of season 2 (Pierce). Although other study room members factor into this storyline Britta the most significant with the classic edible line, hilarious argument with Jeff that echoes their argument in season 2 Documentary, and getting called the worst at the funeral), this is all about Dads, this fall on Fox. Wrong! It’s all about gays! Wrong, the gays are used stereotypically and this episode is offensive. Wrong, Miss Urbana Champaign is one of the best characters in the history of television. Wrong, that character is used as the butt of a joke in the Chang runner, which is the worst part of the episode. Wrong, the worst part of the episode is the tag because INSPECTOR SPACETIME SUCKS GUYS! Wrong, the tag was supposed to be in a different episode also what the hell are we talking about right now. Oh yeah, Jeff and Pierce.
Pierce story circle: Top right = I don’t like gays but I can make money off them so I like them. Bottom right = I want to please my father so I hate gays. Bottom left = Look at me now Dad! I’m with the gays! Top left = my dad is dead so he can suck it. So Pierce forgets about the gays at the end. But that’s okay because this episode wasn’t really about them. Ha, suck it first guy who said “Wrong!” Cornelius Hawthorne, played by Larry Cedar, exceeds expectations considering he was foreshadowed in multiple episodes. His racism and homophobia is hilarious as a lens to why Pierce is how he is. Pierce’s wipes set this story in motion, but it’s Jeff who takes it to its inevitable dark conclusion when he kills Pierce’s father. We all know Jeff has daddy issues, but this came as a surprise. Now that we know how many deaths occur in season 3, it makes more sense. But the funeral scene is a little jarring at first. Is this a drama or a comedy? But Pierce’s eulogy brings us back to our comfort zone. His father was evil so his death isn’t a tragedy.
Great work from both McHale and Chase in this episode. Joel nails the speech “from every son to every crap dad that ever lived” and even makes the “sorry for killing your Dad” line work. It’s always great to see Chevy Case enjoy his work on the best job he ever had. Overall this isn’t a top tier episode of Community, but I think it’s solid. Both storylines contribute to important arcs and supply a good amount of laughs. There are some throwaway moments that don’t work but they don’t stop the episode’s momentum. The tonal shifts work even though they probably shouldn’t, and that’s credit to director Joe Russo.
1. What do you think of the depiction of homosexuals in this episode?
2. Do you wish that Troy got to interact with the study group more in this episode instead of hanging with the guest stars?
3. Who was better, Cedar or Goodman?
4. Do you like that we got little bursts of Chang throughout the episode instead of a true C-story or were the jokes so dumb that the structure of his “story” is moot?
5. Do you think Shangela should come back in season 5?