Welcome to Looking Streets Behind, a Community retrospective column! Join me as I dive into a Community episode that has reached its 10th-anniversary milestone! This go-round, we’re delving into “Advanced Gay,” the outing wherein Piercinald Anastasia Hawthorne broadened his worldview and moist towelette empire.
While it’s not my favorite Community episode (it didn’t make this list or that list), “Advanced Gay” is still a fun installment with killer one-liners from Britta and Troy’s delightful B story involving the AC Repair School.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into “Advanced Gay” before Pierce’s racist dad stops Greendale’s hottest party!
Troy (Donald Glover) helps Jerry the Janitor (Jerry Minor) fix a machine in the cafeteria. Naturally, Troy’s innate know-how impresses Jerry the Janitor. Two men approach Pierce (Chevy Chase), asking him for an autograph. After Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) wonders why the men were so jazzed about Hawthorne Wipes, Abed (Danny Pudi) shows the study group Urbana Champaign’s (Shangela Pierce) music video, entitled “Pocket Full of Hawthornes.”
Later, Pierce returns to the study room sporting an Urbana Champaign t-shirt. Sure, he’s spent decades of his life spouting racist, misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric, but now Pierce embraces the LGBTQ+ community wholeheartedly. His newfound gay friends are boosting the Hawthorne brand, so, in return, Pierce’s team whipped up Pride Wipes. Oh, and there’s going to be a big shindig to commemorate the occasion.
Meanwhile, Troy unplugs a toilet with Jerry. One of the AC repairmen spies on Troy, and Jerry makes him promise to utilize his plumbing powers for good.
Then, Pierce’s father, Cornelius Hawthorne (Larry Cedar), disapproves of the Hawthorne empire’s support of the LGBTQ+ community.
A mysterious someone kidnaps Troy, who winds up in a room with four other students, situated before Vice Dean Laybourne (John Goodman). Laybourne’s chosen the aforementioned students to compete for entry into Greendale’s legendary Air Conditioning Repair School.
Next, Pierce introduces Jeff (Joel McHale), Britta (Gillian Jacobs), Annie (Alison Brie), Shirley and Abed to Cornelius. Cornelius proceeds to direct racist language toward everyone in the room nonchalantly. Pierce announces his decision to cancel the “Gay Bash” and revoke Hawthorne Wipes’ support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Thus, Jeff decides to resume the party since a homophobe tried to oppress it.
Later, a furious Pierce finds the Gay Bash moving forward as planned. However, Jeff appeals to Pierce’s inherent vanity by revealing a portrait of Pierce and crowning him the “guest of honor.” Even Urbana Champaign is a guest speaker!
The crowd eagerly chants Pierce’s name, making him more comfortable with having the party.
After Troy assembles an air conditioner while blindfolded, Laybourne pulls him aside and shows him the “Room Temperature Room.” Laybourne urges Troy to join the AC Repair School and gives him 24 hours to decide.
At the bash, Troy seeks advice regarding his future from Abed. Pierce prepares to impart a speech when he spots his father in the audience. Then, he backtracks, denouncing his support of the LGBTQ+ community. Amid all the emphatic boos from the crowd, Pierce fakes a heart attack.
Jeff angrily confronts Cornelius at the hospital. Jeff channels his issues with his father via his speech to Cornelius. The confrontation is so intense that it kills Cornelius.
Later, at the funeral, Pierce’s eulogy assumes a competitive tone. “You’re dead, and I’m not!” he exclaims. Meanwhile, Troy gives Laybourne his decision — all he wants to do is watch TV with Abed. However, after Troy leaves, Laybourne vows to reel Troy in one way or another.
Jeff believes Britta will make an excellent therapist, especially after diagnosing Pierce’s “edible” issues.
Troy and Abed play “Inspector Spacetime” for the end-tag scene while Jeff sits in the study room. Of course, they cease the make-believe when an attractive girl walks by.
The one-liners, gags and facts!
As I mentioned before, Britta’s one-liners are pure, unadulterated ivory, much like Cornelius Hawthorne’s “wig.” There’s “I can excuse racism, but I draw the line at animal cruelty,” for starters.
“Oh, I see what’s going on here. In my psych class, I’m learning about this thing called the ‘Edible Complex.’ All men have to kill their fathers so that they can do something to their mothers. I haven’t finished the chapter.” I hope Britta never finishes that chapter.
And, as per usual, my boy Troy delivers the verbal goods. “I’m gonna eat spaceman paninis with Black Hitler, and there’s nothing you can do about it!” might be one of my favorite Troy bits ever.
Jeff’s speech to Cornelius is surprisingly poignant, and it’s certainly more than one line, but I’ll include it here:
Listen up, Colonel Cryptkeeper. I could live a million years, and I could spend every minute of it doing important things. But at the end of it all, I would’ve only lived half a life if I had not raised a son. This was a gift that was handed to you, and you squandered it. The reason you have so much hatred in your heart is because you’re trying to fill a hole where your kid was supposed to go.
And now it’s too late — now you’re just stomping around try to prove you exist. Well, mission accomplished. But here’s a question I’d like to pass on to you from every son of every crap dad that ever lived. So what? I’m done with you; he’s done with you. The world is done with you.
In this episode, Pierce feigns a heart attack, and this isn’t the first time on Community he does this. Hawthornes love to fake medical issues!
According to the writer of “Advanced Gay,” Matt Murray, Cornelius’s “wig” is composed of rubber, and it cost five thousand dollars to make.
Larry Cedar, who portrays Pierce’s father, is 12 years younger than Chevy Chase in real life. Fun fact: Chevy Chase, like Pierce, boasts a family fortune courtesy of a sanitation product. Chevy, a.k.a. Cornelius Crane Chase, is the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane, heir to Crane Plumbing Corporation.
This is the first time we hear Pierce’s full name. At the funeral, Pierce’s “You’re dead, and I’m not” is a reference to Chevy’s famous line from Saturday Night Live: “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.”
In the M*A*S*H episode “Private Charles Lamb,” Hawkeye Pierce defines the “Edible Complex” as when a boy likes his mother’s cooking better than eating out. I want to think Britta didn’t watch that episode and misconstrued Oedipal for edible on her own terms.
Urbana-Champaign is where the University of Illinois is located.
The “Edible Complex” of it all!
My favorite aspect of “Advanced Gay” is just how seriously Laybourne takes the AC Repair School. Of course, Community sprinkling in the somber score is icing on the cake.
It’s nice to see more of Pierce and his upbringing, even though he sure knows how to rub people the wrong way. I don’t believe Community seizes this opportunity to excuse his racism, misogyny and homophobia, especially since the group continuously calls him out on his remarks. Rather, we see where he learned those toxic behaviors from.
And it’s great to see Pierce with an open mind, even if the source of the opening is moist towelette revenue. Britta correctly diagnosing everyone despite Britta-ing Oedipal is pretty damn funny and a very Britta thing to do.
Overall, “Advanced Gay” is a delightful romp with a catchy, toe-tapping tune that’ll never, ever leave my brain.
What do you love most about Community’s “Advanced Gay”? Sound off in the comments below! Join me next week as I dive deep into “Studies in Modern Movement,” wherein we all make #AnniesMove trend on Twitter.
Until then, stay streets ahead.
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