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
We’re back with another episode of Tim & Eric’s Brazil, where government bureaucracy and dark humor go hand in hand like chocolate and something that goes really well with chocolate! The episode begins with Tom who decided NOT to go to The Mayor this time and instead is taking his case directly to the city council. His plan is to start a consultation company called Tom Peters Business Consulting, and I’m guessing he’s at the point where he needs to apply for local licenses and permits. I assumed that would just involve filling out a form rather than giving a power point presentation in front of city council, but I guess each town has their own laws regarding this stuff. Speaking of laws, the City Council is unable to grant Tom his license yet as he hasn’t registered his family through Jefferton’s Department of Families; a system put in place by The Mayor himself. I actually like this idea because it’s one of the few times where The Mayor being THE MAYOR plays a legitimate role in the story. He may be a wild and unpredictable agent of pure evil, but it helps to be reminded that he DOES have power in this town and that he was in fact voted in by the people despite him being… well, The Mayor. This would have been a lot harder to believe a little over a year ago, but considering what happened in 2016, it’s not TOO far outside the realm of possibilities that people would vote in such a megalomaniacal monster. Wait, DID TIM AND ERIC SEE ALL THIS COMING!?
So Tom visits the Department of Families and uses one of the kiosks to register (nice visual touch with there being a dozen kiosks yet only ONE is operational), but it turns out that Jefferton is VERY discriminatory against dudes with step children and his entire family is considered illegal; arrested on the spot by what I can only assume are the Jefferton equivalent of ICE officers. Well this stinks! If only there was a way for Tom to make his family legal! Wait a minute… what about The Mayor? Maybe HE has a way to get his family legalized!?
A lot of what Tim & Eric excel at is exploring the mundanities of middle class (and lower middle class) existence and mining nominally normal parts of that life for comedic exaggeration; showing the awkward and even sinister side of things that we would just take for granted. In this case, we’re dealing with self-help videos. Oh no, not just ANY videos like YouTube or even DVD! This is going WAY back to the heyday of VHS tapes which in the late eighties and throughout the nineties were cheap enough to produce so that pretty much anyone could be set up their own film studio and sell garbage to undiscerning viewers. A lot of this is stuff that we still laugh at to this day like Bible Man or have been justly forgotten like Y2K prepper tapes (I actually found one of those at a Goodwill by the way), and in this case we’re looking at self-help videos; a market where any yahoo could give questionable advice and stamp it onto a tape. More specifically, The Mayor is a subscriber to this series of tapes where Dr. Victor Peppar (Scott Chernoff) fixes any number of problems in three easy steps; including Legalizing Your Family. You know, considering how Jefferton is the ONLY town that seems to have this program, I’m guessing there are a few shady dealings behind the scenes. The Mayor enacts an esoteric program that all citizens are required to comply with, and then this guy JUST SO HAPPENS to create a video tape you can buy that’ll help you with that process? Hm… Well the idle speculation will have to be put on hold for now because Tom is ready to get his family good and legalized! What is step one? Why VR games of course!!
It’s a decent enough bit with the virtual reality game looking suspiciously like the Lawnmower Man video game, but things get REALLY absurd once we get to step two in the process which this episode gets its title from; RE-Birth! Now this one is a bit more complicated than playing a video game as this step involves the rest of his family who will need a one day pass to get out of CRAPPY FAMILY JAIL. To break it down, the father needs to shave ALL the hair from his body (so he can share in the re-birthing experience or something like that), then the family constructs a fake vagina out of giant tube that’s wrapped in blankets. The tube is set up at an angle like a slide and it empties out into a children’s pool to simulate the birthing process; all the while the mother sits at the TOP of the vagina slide pretending she’s giving birth. After each child slides through the tube, the family then decides on a new name for them.
Now as ludicrous as this idea is and how funny Tim & Eric are able to make it, this actually DOES come from a true story as Eric Wareheim explains on the audio commentary. The episode was inspired by a story he had read which SEEMS to be the case of Candace Newmaker who died during an Attachment Therapy Session in a treatment her therapists called Rebirthing. I won’t get into the details as they’re pretty freaking awful, but you can see the same kind of reckless certainty in Dr. Victor Peppar that you’d have to have in order to not heed a girl’s cries for help as she suffocated to death. I didn’t know about this until pretty recently and it makes me enjoy the episode all the more as the mean streak and utter contempt on display for Tom as he continually gets jerked around by The Mayor is that much more a genuine reflection of how EVERYONE needs to do better and think for themselves more often. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t EVER question your doctors or professionals when they clearly don’t understand your needs or are working for their own self-interest, but easily disproven ideas about vaccines, global warming, and immigration that still somehow manage to take hold in this country are the kind of toxic ignorance (mostly willful, sometimes not) that Tim & Eric shine a light on in this show and actively judge Tom for going along with. Anyway, Tom presents this all to City Council (we also learn that his sons are now named Brandon, Brendon, and Brindon which is one of the ONLY pieces of continuity this show adheres to) but shock of all shocks, they have no idea who Dr. Victor Peppar is or anything about this whole “rebirthing” process. I know, you’re all in utter disbelief that The Mayor would be duplicitous. Given all that Tom has gone through however, the mustachioed City Council Member takes pity on him and just stamps his Family Registration form as approved; putting an end to all this madness and finally paving the way for Tom to start his consultation business. So that’s it, right? Oh, you know better than to think it ends there! Tom TRIES to escape at least, but The Mayor convinces him to go through with the final step in the three step program; public consummation of your wedding vows! Yeah, apparently The Mayor wants to make a porno between Tom and Joy and has a whole scenario planned out; including a wig for Tom to wear to cover up his bald head and a scenario involving a pizza delivery with extra sausage! Yeah, well once The Mayor releases the DVD (I can only assume Tom and Joy got no money out of that), Tom starts having difficulty lining up clients for his consulting business who believe him to be a pornographer now. Oh well. It’s not like it’s anyone’s fault but Tom’s. He was SO CLOSE to getting what he wanted, but he just couldn’t stick the landing!
This is an episode that ended up really growing on me the more and more I thought about it and in that sense it might be one of the more subversive episodes in the series. Normally The Mayor acts as a rouge and unpredictable agent with the town of Jefferton merely serving as one big victim to his ever changing and increasingly asinine whims, but this episode places them as complicit in his hurtful policies which is something Tim Heidecker brings up in the audio commentary; cheering on his “family Friendly” act that has a nice name but actually harms and discriminates against people who don’t fit into the town’s preconceived notion of normalcy. Now sure, this is still an episode where the biggest victim of these kinds of laws is an exceeding average white guy (something that will hold true throughout the entire series) but it does dovetail nicely into the show’s overarching themes about complacency and cowardice in the face of powers trying to take advantage of you; no matter how mundane or silly said powers come across as. The Mayor is often shown to be a monster seemingly created outside the bounds of our (somewhat) functioning society, but episodes like this remind you that he’s very much a product of his environment or at the very least a nefarious outside that the teeming masses clamor for regardless of how destructive he may be. Boy would it be terrible if something like THAT existed in our own world, am I right!? It’s both impressive and depressing just how well the themes of this show hold up in today’s political climate, which may not say great things about us but at least shows how brilliant Tim & Eric can be when they find just the right idea to work with.
The Recap Recap!!
- Scott Chernoff plays Dr. Victor Peppar, a VHS self-help guru with classes on Braille Thru Learning, Home Finance Messups, and Jazz Dance.
- Sadly Bob Odenkirk does not make an appearance this time around and I bet it was probably due to how MESSED UP the backstory of this episode is! He will stick to more WHOLESOME episodes like the one where he played an animatronic Hitler, thank you very much!
Tom Who Now?
- Tom printed up four hundred and fifty THOUSAND business cards for his consultation business, but the name is misspelled as Tom Petres.
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)
- Tim Heidecker believes this to be the most political episode in the series as it deals with a town so conservative a puritan that it enacts policies that intend to keep out those who don’t adhere to the strict norms of a nuclear family.
- The two of them get into an argument over Jazz Guitar and Jazz Vocals… for some reason.
- The new names of Tom’s step children came from something that Tim Heidecker would do at one of his previous jobs. He had invented a fake family (his wife was named Joy so you can probably see where A LOT of Tom came from) and told his coworkers he wanted to have twins so he can name them Brendon and Brindon.
The Bonus Screenshot
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