Congratulations, Office! Other than Andy’s play a few weeks back, this was by far the strongest episode of the season and even made me feel like we had the snappy spark and humorous heart of the early years—it almost had a Dundies vibe to it! It was a little ironic, though, that it took an episode about another show to really up the ante and deliver solid storylines and jokes from start to finish. It turned out that mash-ups don’t just work on Glee, but with Glee.
The Office has always been clever at incorporating pop culture references and “it” movies and TV shows into their character dialogue. But, this usually entails a quick passing reference (often by our pop-culture diva Kelly). So, it was definitely an inspired choice to select the hot show of the year—Glee—and have the office gather for a viewing party. Gleeks Erin and Gabe are the hosts of this shindig at Gabe’s well-manicured townhouse, which also happens to be “full of Asian stuff.” While everyone decides to attend, some have ulterior motives. Andy is still hurting from Erin choosing Gabe, so he wants to be the ultimate life of the party to impress her. Michael (as always) feels the need to exercise his authority as the big boss versus Gabe, the corporate “boss.” Meanwhile, Erin is desperate for Michael to bond more with Gabe and give him a chance. Amidst these motivations, everyone else arrives with their usual issues: Dwight and Angela’s sex contract (“get in the real world, they exist!”) and Jim and Pam struggling as new parents with a crying baby. And for the first time in a long time, these conflicts actually worked set in a new environment and with a special twist—Dwight has the magic touch with baby CeCe and can keep her calmly sleeping.
The Glee-watching itself was extremely enjoyable for the range of reactions we got to witness. From Erin running around the house in a tizzy announcing “It’s starting! It’s starting!” and Phyllis asking about each Glee character “Who’s that? Which one is ‘Glee’?” to the massive freak out when Jim doesn’t change the channel back in time (“Why would we have to record it?” – “THIS is why. We are living it!”). Michael’s jealousy gets the best of him, as it tends to do, and after sulking in the bedroom he eventually sneaks outside to cut the cable. Cue second massive freak out for the Gleeks, which results in Kelly checking her phone to learn that “they perfomed Blinded by the Light with a blind guy” and Creed placing a call to…someone…to announce that apparently Puck and Finn were able to work things out.
There was some bedroom action happening as well, but not the kind you would think (or, maybe it is the kind you would think given this is The Office). When sleep-deprived Pam learns that CeCe sleeps peacefully in Dwight’s arms, she is willing to do anything (or make Jim do anything) to keep Dwight content. This involves Dwight asking his sworn enemy to pizza and beer him, while Pam must serve as the authorized messenger to Angela who awaits another of Dwight’s powers out in the car. Andy tries to make himself a powerful life of the party by downing some of Gabe’s mysterious “seahorse powder” in what is perhaps the strangest story of the night. You have got to give it to Andy Bernard for trying with all his might to flirt with Erin while holding back the waves of sickness that descend upon him. Ed Helms, you are amazing—between this episode and the one with Andy’s play, you are owed an Emmy, good sir. From the physical comedy he shows to heartbroken sadness when asking Phyllis to help him find out about Erin and Gabe’s relationship, I really feel for you, Nard Dog. And Phyllis—your little “girl talk” with Erin, in which you described your first time nude with Bob Vance, made me almost as sick as Andy…but it was hilarious.
The night doesn’t end as a total bust. Even though things don’t go for Andy and Michael as they had hoped, they both do experience progression on the relationship front (just not the relationships they expected). Andy and Gabe bond ever so slightly when Gabe nurtures a violently ill Andy. And, in a truly touching moment, family-less Erin makes it clear that she really cares if Michael likes Gabe and wants his approval. What makes this unspoken realization so special is that, out of everyone in the office, Erin and Michael are probably the most similar. They both lack traditional filters and do not operate in everyday reality when it comes to social cues and norms. The fact that Michael is able to pick up on Erin’s emotional need and then use their own unique brand of humor to connect in a father-daughter way is what really sells this development.
There are so many great lines from this gleeful episode, so here are just a few more I did not already mention:
- Angela: “Just say copies…why do you need to drag cats into it?” (reacting to Dwight’s comment that televising the Scranton Strangler arrest just inspires copycats). And, side note, I also really enjoyed the cold opening with the Scranton Strangler television watch.
- Michael collecting the gravel from the ‘now infamous’ street after the high-speed car chase goes by…you know, for his grandkids to buy a spaceship one day.
- Kelly railing on the inconsistency of Glee plot twists and calling the writing “irresponsible.” (Great meta-critique of the show!)
- “Those posters used to be real French ads” (Erin giving a tour of Gabe’s house)
- “Is this a Glee watching party or Glee pausing party?” (avid TV watcher Kelly growing frustrated)
- “Are you going to quiet that baby or do I have to?” (Dwight). Apparently you have to, Dwight.
- “If I was a girl who had to choose between a tall looking dude who likes Asia and a you-looking dude who likes sweaters, I’d choose you” (Daryl to Andy)…This might be the nicest thing Daryl has ever said!
- I am still disturbed by the sight of Andy vomiting on Gabe’s bed and covering it with a pillow. Shudder.
Did you enjoy “Viewing Party” like I did? Did it almost make you wish that they spend the rest of this season viewing different TV shows at various characters’ homes? I could totally imagine a Man Men party! Also, this may be a weird question, but does anyone else get the strange feeling that Andy, Gabe and Erin could totally develop into a three-way relationship and all live in a house together like a reverse Three’s Company with one girl and two guys?