Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations (Season 4, Ep 5)

Link to this episode Here 

Thanksgiving: Food, Family, and Fighting

We find the gang finishing their studying (in their study room), discussing their plans for Thanksgiving. Shirley informs the group that everyone is invited over to her house to join her and her husbands family for dinner. Everyone is excited except for Jeff who grunts that he already has plans. The Dean then tells everyone that he is actually having dinner with his estranged father. The gang (and I) were all excited to hear this especially Britta (note the picture) who took the credit for their reunion.

Jeff drives over to his Dad's house, only to panic and run away. He then calls Britta and she reveals to him that she is already in Willy Winger's house. Now Jeff has to return. It seems that Britta was really only there to provide comic relief to this plot line. Jeff finally confronting and bonding with his Dad is a bit tense so its understandable. One could argue that the second plot line was also set up so that it would counter balance the heavy themes and dialogue of this section of the show.

"This Ain't No Fairytale, This is Thanksgiving"

The other plot line, which to be honest didn't add much to the overarching plot of the series, took place in Shirley's home.We immediately find out that Shirley's in-laws are rude and overall horrible to be around. Abed, Troy, Annie, and Pierce all retreat into the garage to escape all of the "tension, the back fighting, and judgmental comments."

They declare that they feel like they are in prison and Abed starts to narrate this plot line as though it was a prison movie such as "Shawshank Redemption." Abed becomes 'the guy who can get you things" like Red from "Shawshank," Troy starts to lift, and Shirley is their warden. They tag team taking turns out with the  family as the rest of the Gang waits for dinner in the garage. But the prison theme soon breaks as Shirley figures out that they are trying to escape her house. She tells them that normally the Bennet family makes fun of her all night so she invited her friends over in an attempt to even the odds. So it turns out she is just as much of a prison her has they are.

Scotch, Scotch, Scotch, They love scotch
Jeff’s reunion with his father, played by James Brolin, can be compared with a similar reunion in an episode of "How I Met Your Mother". On that show, Neil Patrick Harris plays the smooth talking, womanizing, fashionable, lawyer named Barney Stinson. Similarly, Jeff was a lawyer for 7 years, is known for his fashion sense and prides himself  in his romantic abilities. But more importantly, both of their characters were raised by their mothers after their fathers left their family. During the reunion with Barney’s father, played by John Lithgow, originally tells his group of friends that his dad was exactly like he was; smooth talking, ladies man, who drank scotch and had a manly job. But we later find out that his father lives in suburbia with another family and makes a living as a driving instructor. He is mild mannered and and upstanding father. When Barney visits his father’s family, he becomes jealous, emotional, then lashes out at his father for leaving him.

            Although Jeff and Barney’s familial and personality situations mirror each other, Jeff’s confrontation occurs in a very different fashion. Jeff’s father is equally manly, has con stories, drinks scotch, and the two get along quite well. But the emotional conflict reveals itself in a different way. Jeff’s father tells him that he is proud of him. Hooray, fatherly acceptance! But Willy Winger goes on to say that Jeff should thank him for leaving him because his leaving him caused Jeff to be an independent, resourceful, self-made man. Jeff's father blames himself for Willy Jr who has turned out to be "softer than wet cheese." After one of his epiphanies, Jeff confronts his dad by telling him that he is also responsible for Jeff’s abandonment, insecurity, and other all relationship issues.

Willy Jr.
 I think the most dramatic and surprisingly serious story was of a young Jeff who lied to a class mate telling him that he got his appendix out. When the classmate asked to see the scar, Jeff went home and made a scar with some scissors. Everyone at school believed him and he got 13 get well soon cards from his class mates. Jeff still keeps those cards today to remind himself that there are people who cared about him. “I am not well adjusted. I’m barely holding it together. I’m constantly testing and there is no one on the other end. I’m afraid that they will see that I am broken.” –Jeff

Heartbreaking! The desperation, the vulnerability, Jeff’s fears of losing his friends. It was an unexpected realization in a normally light comedy. Barney eventually has a sitcom moment with his dad, but Jeff’s new relationship with his father seems more real because we see the damage that the abandonment caused Jeff. Barney is more of a womanizing jester than a three dimensional character. 

Overall, the show was alright. Jeff's plot line was the best as we learned so much more about his character and got to see some resolution between him and his father. The Bennet Prison plot line was alright but then even Abed admits that it fell short. But I have high hopes for the next episode, I think its going to focus on Kevin's Changnisa? 

Well, see you all next week. Thanks for reading.
Tweet @TomBrande or leave a comment. 

PS, no clue what this is about, have to search around online to find if there is a clip with the cast as puppets. 
Check out this link, of the cast with their puppets.

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