Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim
Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
Welcome back to another episode of Everybody Hates Tom as we take a look at how our beloved and beloathed protagonist handle the mysterious concept of… FRIENDSHIP! I hear it’s a kind of magic! Anyway, the episode begins with Good ol’ Tom Peters dropping his friend Gibbons (Brian Posehn) off at the train station after what appears to have been a very pleasant get together. Apparently that all happened in an episode we never got to see, and while I’m SURE Tom is happy to have spent some time with his bestest buddy, he’s got some planning to do for Jefferton’s Friendship Expo and needs to hurry this tearful goodbye along so that he can get back to work. No wait, Gibbons is there too because he apparently missed his train (how the hell did he miss it!? IT WAS RIGHT THERE!) and is just gonna hang out for the time being. Clearly Tom is not too comfortable with this as he was clearly ready to recharge his batteries after spending that afternoon with Gibbons, but he can’t focus on that as he has to get his booth ready to sell his Books On Tiny Cassettes as well as his wife’s Friendship Skirts For Men (meant to be worn in tandem). Oh look! Even The Mayor manages to stop by to wish his buddy good luck, though he seems a little bit put off by Gibbons.
So there are a few things to unpack here. First of all, the VERY tall Brian Posehn had their body shrunk during the editing process to make him a short man which is a cute visual gag but really shouldn’t be dismissed as such. Now being short in and of itself isn’t a disability and the show never addresses what Gibbons actual height is (around 4’10” and shorter is usually the cutoff point for dwarfism as defined by Little People of America) or if he suffers from any medical problems because of it. Then again, this is a silly show that probably didn’t think about ANY of that when crafting this character and just thought it’d be funny if 6’7” Brian Posehn was really small and that it freaked out The Mayor for whatever reason. You don’t have to ACTUALLY know anything about what you’re mocking for it to be offensive and while I doubt that Tim & Eric were being MALICIOUS with this character, it does feel rather tone oblivious to be so flippant about The Mayor’s bigotry here. Then again, outside of The Mayor who is very clearly an inhuman monster, Gibbons is never shown in a mocking light as far as his height is concerned and the man is pretty much just allowed to be who his is; a rather cloying and somewhat absentminded buddy to Tom. Still, the humor whenever The Mayor is around him can be a bit much as he exoticizes Gibbons quite a bit and the fact that a character is a terrible awful person has rarely ever kept similarly terrible awful people from subscribing to their worldview (*cough* Rick Sanchez *cough*). It’s also kind of lazy to just have The Mayor act this way towards Gibbons for laughs; especially when there’s something far more interesting going on between him and Tom. After the first day of the Convention, seemingly having sold very little of his inventory, Tom goes back home for a good night’s sleep so he can start the next day fresh with a renewed conviction to sell his crappy nick-knacks! However, there’s someone ringing his doorbell at what has to be very late into the evening, and it turns out to be… Gibbons. For whatever reason, Gibbons decided to come over and have an inane conversation about cell phone plans and Caesar salads when Tom is trying to rest and Tom blows up at him; telling him to go home and that he’s taking this whole “friendship” thing WAY too seriously. Ouch…
To a certain extent, I do relate Tom’s plight here. Being an emotionally stunted introverted man child who spends most of his time thinking up silly puns for his website, it certainly takes very little provocation for me to try and find an exit to social situations, and while Tom comes off a bit hostile for it to just be social awkwardness, I can see where Gibbons’s shtick can be a bit overbearing. As described by Kevin Gallegly (series art director) on the audio commentary, Gibbons is the kind of guy who will start a conversation and then expect you to carry it. Shit man, I can barely handle my OWN conversations; let alone someone else’s! So after Tom blows up at Gibbons, he starts wandering the streets; shedding tears because his best friend was mean to him just for waking him up in the morning and expecting him to hold a rather boring conversation. Sadly his grief had blinded him to The Mayor coming down the road on his scooter (driving it asleep of course) and he gets run over by this thirty-five horsepower metallic painted missile of death! The Mayor, seeing who he has injured, couldn’t be more ecstatic because he now has a brand new friend to do all sorts of stuff with; presumably having gotten over his initial jitters about the guy.
The next day at the convention, Tom tries to give Gibbons a sincere apology about what happened last night, but Gibbons is not in a place right now where he can accept it; especially now that he has a much BETTER friend in the form of The Mayor, and he’s already becoming a bit of a local celebrity due to his influence. The Mayor even made him the keynote speaker at the Friendship Expo which comes with a prize of second story to add to his house; a thing that ACTUALLY exists and is WILDLY expensive (in the ball park of a hundred grand), so it’s a pretty good prize to get for such a small town convention! Oh well. I guess Gibbons can go off and do his thing while Tom can focus on his booth which is due to get a spotlight any minute now. Unfortunately for Tom though, it seems that Gibbons has just fallen down a well and everyone in the town is pulling together to get him out! Wait, what?
Now I have seen this episode A DOZEN times and always felt this had come completely out of nowhere, but in rewatching it watch this recap, there’s a quick scene where Tom and The Mayor are talking where you can see Gibbons fall over into a well. I’m surprised that I NEVER noticed it until right now, but in any case Gibbons is still able to communicate with the convention through a camera that Channel 5 sent down, and he takes the opportunity to give his keynote speech. Of course, it’s mostly about telling everyone about how much Tom sucks, but I’m guessing that Tom of used to that by now. Honestly, he’s also at a point where he’d be more than happy to just let his friendship with Gibbons fade away considering how annoying he can be and how quickly they devolved into bickering, but in an attempt to prove to everyone how much better he is than Tom, Gibbons graciously awards his prize of a second story to Tom so that he can have a place to stay whenever he comes to town. Tom graciously accepts the free addition to his house and we cut to sometime later where Gibbons has already been freed from the well and the construction company is carefully putting the second story in place. And so the episode ends with their friendship somewhat still intact and Tom’s shanty of a house collapsing under the weight of the second story.
I really do like this episode and I think it’s pretty funny overall, but in trying to watch it with a more critical eye the flaws become a lot more apparent which sadly makes the humor a bit less effective. One of the more glaring issues with Tom Goes to the Mayor is that it’s a satire that rarely has anyone WITHIN the show to point out just how ridiculous it is, so they’re always walking that fine line between EXPOSING the awfulness of Middle America and PERPETUATING it; hence why the Married News Team bit where they describe Gibbons as a freak COULD have seemed like a good send up of bigoted news broadcasts on paper, but it doesn’t come across as a condemnation of that in the show proper. Still, I love seeing what a Jefferton convention would look like (sad and cheap, mostly), and it’s got enough wacky twists and turns to keep things interesting even if not entirely coherent. Maybe it doesn’t quite hold up like it did back in its heyday, but it’s still a solid enough entry in the series.
The Recap Recap!!
- Brian Posehn plays the insufferable best friend of Tom Peters who’s rather friendly but without much social grace or understanding of boundaries. Also, he’s pretty short.
- Sadly no Bob Odenkirk this time around. The only reasonable conclusion to draw from this is that Bob hates friendship. SHAME ON YOU, BOB!!
Tom Who Now?
- During Tom’s convention spotlight, they misspell his name as Tom Peter.
Fun Facts from the Commentary!
(NOTE: Since Tim & Eric are… well Tim & Eric, anything said on the DVD commentaries should PROBABLY be taken with a grain of salt)
- Senior Art Director Kevin Gallegly has a cameo in this episode as the train conductor, though it’s someone else who says the character’s single line.
- Whenever Tim & Eric did shot scenes as The Married News Team, Tim while still in character as Jan Skylar would constantly bother Kevin Gallegly and ask him questions about his job.
The Bonus Screenshot