Crushes are horrible. They can drive you crazy, ruin your appetite, distract you, and generally make your life a living hell. And while crushes may never get easier even as you get older—though drinking a lot helps at a certain point—they’re especially onerous when you’re in school.
Thus was the pressure that Gene faced in this episode as he became the target of Courtney’s affections. Courtney, the blonde queen bee who sucks on her necklace and has a congetial heart condition and talks too much and kicks the back of people’s seats, was just the worst sort of crusher, and Gene was simply not prepared to turn her down, let alone deal with such a high degree of annoying.
The episode didn’t offer a particularly compelling story, and it could be because Gene isn’t exactly the show’s strongest character. While we routinely get a sense of his interior world, like his notion of music gear heaven, it’s an interior world that isn’t very deep. It’s full of whimsy and randomness, and there’s a certain amount of charm to that, but it doesn’t make Gene strong enough to carry this sort of emotionally driven story. Contrast Gene to Tina or Louise, both of whom have very definitive personalities and way of relating to the world, and a story similar to this one would likely have gone differently, whether it be Tina hesitating and being neurotic or Louise being, well, psychotic.
I think the show was aware of this, and that was the reason for introducing Doug and all his music and jingle gear. Doug was a way to keep this story moving when it likely should’ve ended following the date at the movies. Sitcoms often serve up such contrivances to keep an episode’s romantic entanglement going when it’s clear everyone is mismatched; this one connected to one of the defining characteristic of Gene, which is more than other sitcoms typically do (most of the time, it’s just that the sex is fantastic).
But overall, "The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene" didn’t offer a lot of laughs. Courtney’s annoying behavior wasn’t amusingly annoying, just outright annoying. I did appreciate short bits, like Tina and Louise running and screaming through the school in an effort to stop Gene from agreeing to like-like Courtney, and Tina trying to give Louise amnesia. The main plot was never very funny, despite the character-based humor, and so the episode was definitely not one of my favorites.
At least it wasn’t the manatee puppet. But then again, the puppet didn’t have an oral fixation.
Notes & Quotes
– Burger of the Day board: Yes I Cayenne Burger and then some burger that comes with beans.
– Linda attempted the skin-deep diet to lose her muffin top. It was pretty forgettable, though I think the best bit was when she tried to eat Tina’s hair. “Did you use that cocoa butter shampoo?”
– “Good luck finding a drive-thru hammer store!”
– "Can't I just wait 'til we go to different colleges and lose touch?"
– "They make a cute couple, huh?" "They're certainly standing next to each other."
– "Do you think I've ruined her birthday?" [In a helium voice] "Nah."
– "Aw, horny little grandpa."