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July 31, 2014

Tom Goes to the Mayor: Couple's Therapy

by Adam Finley, posted Aug 25th 2006 7:30PM

tom goes to the mayor(S02E13) This is an early review.

Tom Peters has a less than stellar marriage, and it's been implied, though never blatantly shown, that his wife Joy might be unfaithful. The real question doesn't seem to be why Joy cheats on Tom, but how an ugly screaming whale of a woman like her would be able to find someone willing to make love to her. Of course, plenty of men dig the rotund dames, but Joy manages to make herself unpleasant in so many other ways that seems like a moot point.

Part of enjoying Tom Goes to the Mayor --and I think by this point those who don't enjoy the show have moved on to other things-- is that it exists in a world pretty much void of any adherence to physical or moral laws. Tom has been killed, gone to hell, inexplicably transported both his father and the Mayor to an airplane in mid-flight, and been trapped underwater with a tiny man trapped inside him. He's also married to a woman who hates his guts, and it's never made clear why they're married. If you start asking these kind of questions, though, you really shouldn't be watching the show in the first place.

This episode begins with a message from Janeane Garofalo on behalf of the Oil Turtle Charity Fund (OTCF), an organization dedicated to encouraging folks to keep dumping oil into the water because the precious "oil turtles" need it to survive. The Mayor is watching the commercial when Tom comes into his office to show him a videotape he made of a powerline tower that's been built right over his house and is causing sporadic lawn fires. The Mayor calls his new assistant, who, unbeknownst to Tom, is his wife, Joy. Tom also isn't aware that Joy has been telling everyone, including the Mayor, that she's single. Throughout the episode the Mayor keeps calling Tom's phone and whispering sexually suggestive things, unaware he's speaking to Tom.

Because of his marital problems, the Mayor suggests Tom and Joy attend a couple's therapy cruise hosted by Pat Lewellen (Garry Shandling). Lewellen is qualified to teach the couples because he was in twenty-one bad relationships and eight of them turned into friendships. Joy is unable to attend, but from the boat's observation deck Tom can see a cavalcade of men filing in and out of their home throughout the day. He begins to suspect something might be up, as if the fact that the Mayor tells everyone in group therapy that he himself is there because he and his partner Joy are having problems. This could mean Joy and the Mayor are having an affair, or the Mayor could just be delusional. It's difficult to tell with the Mayor, and with this show in general, which is part of its don't-think-too-much-and-just-enjoy-the-weirdness style.

As it turns out, Joy is not having an affair with any of the men, they're simply installing a toilet in her bed. Seriously, who wouldn't want to do it with a woman like that? Unfortunately, Tom is followed home by several oil turtles who ignite the powerline tower and send it rocketing into the air and crashing into the cruise ship, leaving only a few survivors.

What stood out for me the most about this episode is that I actually found myself feeling sorry for Tom. He's always treated badly by everyone, but in this episode there were moments when he seemed genuinely upset at the idea of Joy seeing other men behind his back, rather than simply ignoring it as he's prone to do, or relying on the same self delusion that allows him to call himself an "entrepreneur" and still keep a straight face. The episode never let it itself get too sentimental, though, and that's fine. If it started taking itself too seriously, I'd be worried.

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