Most comedies do a Christmas episode. Many do a Halloween one. Sometimes there’s a live one, or a Very Special one, or a flashback episode, or a musical. But much, much rarer is the herpes episode. Maybe with good reason?
It’s not that herpes isn’t hilarious. I think we can all agree that it is. But “Sex Ed” never quite found its rhythm, between Michael’s daytrip around Scranton to inform Jan, Helene, and Carol of his recent outbreak; his legitimately heartbreaking phone conversation with Holly; and Andy’s ill-conceived attempts to teach the other Dunder Mifflinites about safer sex. While Michael was cobbling together the sad narrative of his romantic life, everyone else was just making penis jokes.
Michael’s first call, upon convincing himself that he had herpes, was to his one true love, Holly. “You romanticize things,” she said over the phone, telling Michael they had a fling a long time ago – that he’s overstating the significance of their brief relationship. Oof. His emotional tailspin was only exacerbated by seeing the now full-on crazy Jan (who has “released an album of Doris Day covers on [her] own label”) and getting thoroughly dressed down by Helene. Carol was a little more sympathetic to Michael’s herpes-quest, but told him, “You do make a bigger deal out of things than you need to.” Could this sliver of self-awareness percolate its way into Michael Scott’s brain? His last pleading phone call, even though it veered into predictable excess, showed that flash of clarity we only see from Michael every once in a long while. “I did not make us up,” he told Holly’s voicemail. Again, oof.
On the sillier side of things, Andy tried to bust out his RA skills and educate everyone about the dangers of unprotected sex. “The number one sexually transmitted disease is ignorance,” he reminded them, and later showed some “perfectly normal” pictures of herpes-riddled genitalia. His pros/cons list about sex backfired when he moved “risk” and “unplanned pregnancy” into the pros column, per Creed and the Halperts’ requests. Mostly, though, his plan to be the super cool sex educator fell through because Erin was sitting there with Gabe instead of with him. You know things have taken a turn for the terrible when you’re about to put a condom on a pencil. (Words to live by, kids.)
Andy snapped, in another great moment for Ed Helms, but then he and Gabe had a little heart-to-heart, where we found out Gabe had asked for Andy’s blessing before asking Erin out. I’m still wondering what happened to break Erin and Andy up. Anyone?
++ The opening segment, with Dwight kidnapping day laborers, was completely lost on me. I usually love Dwight’s bizarre antics, but this just didn’t hit. “I’m just a normal guy who enjoys revenge,” on the other hand, was right on the money.
++ Best exchange ever?
Meredith: It’s on my genitals.
Kevin: You have a penis?
++ Darryl’s advice to a lovelorn Andy: “My advice is…stop crying.”
I just didn’t think “Sex Ed” clicked, despite some fantastically funny moments. What did you think, Office watchers?
THINK OF YOUR TELEVISION AS A VITAL MEMBER OF THE FAMILY? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Jeff Jensen weigh in on the returning series that are hitting creative peaks this season, and dish the latest happenings on Mad Men, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to a YouTube embed below!