The My Brother, My Brother and Me TV series sought to bring us joy and laughs, but alas, it was not without its casualties. Characters and concepts were introduced to us one moment only to be snatched away the next. And so, it is with a heavy heart that I take on the responsibility of mourning their losses and telling their stories.
Mac the Turtle
One of the first deaths we experience is that of Mac the Turtle. The joyful turtle-shaped stool set out for patrons of a local antique store captured the hearts of the McElroys as well as the audience. We learned early on of Mac’s myriad abilities: toy, stool, hiding place for weed, etc.
But while his journey with us ended at the checkout line, his memory was felt well past the exit doors. Perhaps losing Mac so soon cursed the McElroys in the rest of their endeavors that episode. Attempting to fill a dorm room with spooks from other antique store purchases, the McElroys were less than successful. “It doesn’t feel… okay I’ll say this, it feels very clinical in here, it doesn’t feel very spooky,” Justin says of the McElroy’s design abilities. Perhaps the only spectre haunting this dorm room was Mac himself.
Mac was more than just a turtle—he represented an idea larger than any toy could contain. In this first episode, the boys are transitioning from podcast to television and initially seem to stumble. We can see in the cold open how this new format freezes them with fear, unsure how or even when to start acting when in front of a camera and not just a microphone. The brothers can be heard congratulating themselves on performing simple requirements of this foreign genre like introducing a scene, which demonstrates a kind of innocence—an innocence represented by Mac, the children’s toy from an age long past. His loss, his abandonment is a representation as indicative of the boys’ gradual acceptance of and adjustment to their new format, akin to the childhood loss of innocence we must all go through.
Pornography for Birds
Mac was not the only idea we lost in MBMBaM—episode two, for instance, introduced us to the high-concept business idea of pornography for birds.
Like most things ahead of its time, bird porn had a short life not even lasting the cold open. Despite this, however, bird porn left many memories in its wake—memories of birdseed and bird lube and a generally wrong headspace for comedy as well as a powerful impact on the tone of the episode.
The idea of pornography for birds was pitched by Griffin to his less-than-receptive brothers. Pitted against each other over this one, episode-defining issue, the brothers drew battle lines that would structure the rest of the episode—in which Justin and Travis take pleasure in dressing their youngest brother in ridiculous costume and mocking the results.
“You look like an undertaker for clowns,” Justin says of the clothes he himself had chosen for his brother. “You look like you tripped and fell into a Spencer’s Gifts,” adds Travis. The vitriol spewn throughout this episode seems a logical result of the initial disagreement over pornography for birds. If only bird porn had brought the brothers together instead of dividing them, perhaps then it would have survived for more than one episode.
Finally, we must mourn Griffinsitions. Though they don’t make it past Episode 3, these scene transitions ad-libbed by Griffin use what little time they have to leave a lasting impression on our hearts. They brought us some of the most drama-infused moments of the MBMBaM series, from a violent physical altercation between two brothers to exposure therapy for deep-seated arachnophobia.
Such personal moments are not unfamiliar—the McElroys have never shied away from sharing personal issues with their audience. Most fans are aware that Justin has recently rescheduled his vasectomy appointment to prevent scrotal swelling for his trip to Disney World, for instance, and yet this episode more than any other truly highlights these brothers’ humanity.
These human moments were set against the background of roughly-animated sketches of wildly thrown together ideas, making Griffinsitions chaotic expressions of complex humanity. These moments weren’t for us, the audience. They were of and for the McElroys themselves. So too were Griffinsitions, and perhaps that’s why we are never treated to them again.
So gone but not forgotten are Mac, bird porn, and Griffinsitions. We lay them to rest in the burial ground of our memory and delight in the joy that they have left behind. We MBMBaMbinos hold these losses close and experience the pain of each one as a heartbreak whose only cure is goofs.