Whitney Houston likely didn’t know when she sang “Greatest Love of All” that she was referring to Mr. Peepers (Michael Ian Black) and Garfield (Armen Weitzman), Another Period’s head butler and boyish manservant. But what other song could define the central crux of the downstairs world on the show? Since the outset, Garfield—he of the high voice and insecure demeanor—has displayed a kind of deferential love for the person who taught him everything and gave him a home. Garfield regards Peepers with a father-like respect while Peepers returns that admiration with something close to love. At least, as much love as the show musters.
Another Period takes rather a bleak view when it comes to the loftier emotions. In a world where extreme characters and the outrageous situations they often land themselves in are the modus operandi for plotlines, loving relationships simply don’t fit. With everyone plotting and scheming for a higher rank in society or for a sexual relationship with their sibling or for new marriage arrangements for their daughters for their own financial gain, there isn’t much room left for love.
Not so for Peepers and Garfield. In the way other characters love things—think Lillian (Natasha Leggero) and popularity, Frederick (Jason Ritter) and rocks, and Dodo (Paget Brewster) and opium—Garfield loves Peepers. And Peepers, whether he’s willing to admit it or not, loves Garfield, perhaps the show’s most immature and mature character all rolled up into one thanks to Weitzman’s skill at understated hilarity.
In a show practically overflowing with ridiculous characters, Peepers and Garfield are by no means the odd men out. In fact, they comprise two of the sillier personalities. Peeper’s low, almost hyperbolically mannered accent contrasts Garfield’s timid squeak; where Peepers is all bluster and bravado when dealing with the servants he oversees, Garfield is mild-mannered and almost physically clumsy in his desire to accommodate his masters’ (and in turn Peepers’) wishes. The two are juxtaposed continually in ways other characters are not. In large part, that’s because Black and Reitzman play off each other to such hilarious effect. They exacerbate the father-son/ boss-employee relationship that defines Peepers and Garfield.
It’s not the first time they have experienced tension in their relationship. Another Period clearly adores these two characters (and the actors who play them), providing any opportunity to get them in a scene together. In “Roosevelt,” their bond undergoes the ultimate test when Garfield decides to strike with the other servants, going against Peepers’ distinct command not to get involved. Garfield feels himself swept up in their passionate revolt for three hours of sleep and occasional bathroom breaks. “I’m sorry, Mr. Peepers, I don’t want to. My body may be striking, but my heart will be working!” he despairingly exclaims before being dragged away by a fellow servant to join the picket line. Peeper’s effect on Garfield is too ingrained, though. He doesn’t know what to do without the structure of nearly 24-hour work and someone dictating how to best use that time.
Enter Hamish (Brett Gelman). The ne’er do well becomes pseudo father figure for an evening, convincing Garfield to let loose. “Loose” in this instance involving gasoline as a liqueur, which has the same reaction in Garfield’s system that one imagines meth would have on an entire chicken coop. He runs amok, unable to contain himself. He is forever the boy who, when given sugar, cannot handle it. He needs Peepers as much as Peepers needs him, the only servant who seems to hang on his every word and provide him the reverence he so desires.
When Peepers discovers Garfield recovering downstairs in his bed, he scolds his prodigy turned Icarus about flying too close to the sun. Garfield moans, “I had free will,” a dilemma no servant should ever have to face, clearly, as their life and agenda revolve solely around that of the family they serve. Although Peepers at times feels like the most grating character on Another Period, Garfield balances him out. The two create a dynamic that could be labeled the show’s true love story—unless we’re counting Beatrice and her brother Frederick as contenders. But let’s not.
Amanda Wicks is a freelance journalist specializing in comedy and music. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.