Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Regular Show: “Country Club”

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At the risk of hyperbole, tonight’s episode may be built around the single dumbest joke in the show’s history, and I intend that as the highest of compliments. I would call the joke toilet humor, because that’s exactly what it is, but that particular phrase doesn’t generally carry such a literal connotation. Really, what makes “Country Club” so memorable is that it finds the most absurd possible way to be stupid. It dusts off the old “slobs versus snobs” formula, as Mordecai and Rigby face off against a bunch of sadistic rich people at the nearby country club. But the episode zeroes in on such a singularly bizarre explanation of what brings joy to these local millionaires. For reasons we could not possibly hope to understand—because we’re not rich, you see—“the only thing that matters in life is turning other people’s things into toilets.” That is, verbatim, how the Mark Hamill-voiced villain explains his fundamental motivation to Mordecai and Rigby. Well, there’s also the fact that shooting a golf cart toilet into space is “the richest way to celebrate the summer solstice.”

Frankly, it’s difficult to know where to start with lines like that because they are absolutely bonkers. Regular Show is no stranger to absurdity, but rarely does it present such insane concepts without even the slightest buildup. In most adventures, Mordecai understands just enough of the craziness unfolding around him that he’s willing to accept it without much fuss; here, he actually yells that the country clubbers’ plan makes no sense at all. It’s easy to think of these jokes as intentionally random humor, and there’s certainly an aspect to that; part of the giddy thrill of watching an episode like this is the knowledge that never before in human civilization, and quite possibly never again, has a narrative featured two heroes trying to stop some rich people from turning their golf cart into a toilet and blasting it into space. Such a story attempts to singlehandedly disprove that old Ecclesiastes canard about there being nothing new under the sun. While this episode certainly adheres to a familiar Regular Show formula, as the park staffers fight the forces of evil to save something they care about, the episode’s specific elements make this feel like a fresh take. It’s perhaps telling that, after four seasons, the show has to go quite so far afield to make an old story feel new, but it’s hard to argue with such entertaining results.

Indeed, it would be unnecessarily reductive to think of “Country Club” purely as a triumph of random humor, because there’s a certain, brilliantly silly logic behind this particular plot. Although toilets do have plenty of use as a functional—nay, essential—household appliance, that’s clearly not how the rich people view them. As evidenced by the pyre of burning toilets, the country clubbers simply enjoy destroying toilets, specifically those made out of other people’s cherished possessions. The underlying idea is that the episode’s villains have so much money and so much power they can no longer take any pleasure from simple acquisition; the secret to their happiness now lies in depriving the less fortunate and doing so in the most degrading way possible. This is probably all far too dumb to count as actual social commentary, but it’s a rather wonderful encapsulation of unfettered, predatory greed at its most vile.

Essentially, the country clubbers are so wealthy that they are able to buy complete thoughtlessness, and it takes some brave words and braver deeds from Mordecai, Rigby, and ultimately Benson to force these jerks into recognizing their error; as Benson points out in an increasingly personal example, not everyone can just buy another boombox when it’s stolen and turned into a toilet. Tellingly, all the other country clubbers scatter when the older, weirdly baby-faced guy pulls out a solid gold flare gun. With this one psychotic exception, the rich people are more than happy to revel in the misery of others, but they aren’t prepared to stick around when their social inferiors fight back. Instead, that’s left to the cavalry—a bunch of polo players, naturally—and the country club staff, which is led by a pair of hulking Scandinavian twins. The fight sequence offers all of the park employees a chance to shine. It’s hard to beat Skips actually pulling an entire pipe out of a wall and using it in much the same way others might use a hose, as he temporarily subdues most of the country club’s fighting force. Muscle Man also quite literally shows off his stuff, as he doffs his barf-scented shirt and grabs command of the country club’s tennis cannon. Still, the most valuable player for this sequence really has to be Pops, who reveals a truly impressive, ripped physique and a well-established willingness to settle matters with fisticuffs.

In the midst of this, as always, are Mordecai and Rigby. While the other park staffers fight off the entire country club horde, our main heroes only have to fight a single middle-aged country clubber. However, said rich old guy has had 67 facelifts, leaving him utterly immune to being punched in the face, and he has had tiger tendons injected into his hands, making him virtually unstoppable. Again, this is probably all a little too silly to really sensibly count as satire, but the character speaks to the idea that those with power have the tools and the means to make themselves even more powerful, to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots until not even the semblance of competition exists. He is quite possibly the ugliest character in Regular Show’s long history, and only a tiny fraction of that assessment refers to his external appearance. One of his final lines, in which he bellows that Mordecai and Rigby are “ruining the solstice,” makes it clear just how petty his concerns really are; while our heroes’ livelihoods—not to mention some reasonably beloved memories—depend on the recovery of that golf cart, all the villain cares about is ensuring an appropriately ostentatious celebration of something that happens twice a year anyway (four times if you count the equinoxes, though I imagine the rich would not). If anyone ever deserved to be turned into a toilet and cast out into space for all eternity, then yes, it’s probably that guy.

Stray observations:

  • It is both hilarious and a little maddening just how slowly that golf cart moves through that tube. It clearly retraces the same two feet of tube about a dozen times over the course of the fight.
  • “Wait, there’s a country club?” That line from Thomas made me realize something—if Regular Show were a half-hour long, it would almost certainly use that time for subplots it just can’t do in 11 minutes. Thomas semi-secretly trying to join the country club seems like just the sort of subplot a 30-minute Regular Show might explore.