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Community – Early 21st Century Romanticism

Following a strong episode last week, Community follows the trend with a similarly good episode tonight. This week’s episode didn’t directly parody an obvious genre and felt more like a standard half hour sitcom. Despite this, the content was strong and the writing was refreshingly witty. This episode is just more evidence that Community generally knows when to use sitcom standards and when to subvert them for laughs. This week the team split up and followed individual story lines. Jeff wants some space from the group and ends up watching a football (or soccer for my American friends) match with Professor Duncan and Chang. Troy and Abed fall in love with the same woman and decide to let her choose who she wants to be with. Pierce continues his struggle with pain medication and Britta spends some time schooling Annie on being accepting to ‘friends of Ellen’ (a delightfully funny term Annie uses to describe lesbians). Oh, and Shirley does literally nothing this entire episode.

As is the case for episodes where the characters have their own story threads to deal with, the group dynamic is purely used as an excuse for back-and-forth dialogue. However, even though each of the stories is separate, certain themes connect up all of the stories. For instance, the constant mentions of potential sexual relationships between same-sex friends in Britta and Annie’s story reflect back on Troy and Abed’s story. Troy and Abed are truly the cutest couple in Community, if not on tv right now. Their (and I apologize for partaking in this overused pun) bromance is pivotal to the show’s success, and they have superb on-screen chemistry. Throughout the history of the show, there have been subtle hints that their relationship could be seen as more than just friendship, but the writers stepped it up a notch this week, allowing us to see a moment when Troy and Abed may choose each other over an extremely attractive librarian hottie.

Abed, Troy and Boobs

It seems the writers brought this aspect of Troy and Abed’s relationship to the foreground because Britta was struggling with something similar. And yet for how fluid and real Troy and Abed’s story felt, Britta and Annie’s felt a bit forced and cliché.  In this story arc, Britta makes a new friend who she thinks is a lesbian. She then berates Annie for being naive about homosexuality. Britta then explains that she doesn’t care what people think of her hanging out with a lesbian. Little does Britta know that her new friend, Paige, thinks Britta herself is the lesbian!

The classic sitcom scenario of two characters simply misunderstanding each other for an entire episode has been done to death by everything from Friends to Meet the Parents. On top of that, Britta’s superiority complexes are getting bigger and more frustrating. While the way she talks down to Annie is both marginally in character, it is equally annoying. We’ve had so many episodes where it ends with Britta being humbled for one reason or another, and I hope that one day she will learn her lesson.

Talking about learning lessons, it seems that finally Jeff might have! This episode expands on Jeff’s relationships with characters outside of the study group. Professor Duncan and Jeff always have some good dialogue together and Chang once again stood out as star of this episode (and series in general).  Like Pierce a few episodes ago, Jeff discovers that even though he hates having to do things for his friends, he needs to be needed. When the group seemingly abandons him for their own issues, he gets his kicks by being nice to Duncan and Chang in a way we’ve never seen before. And Chang needs some loving this episode. It’s revealed that Chang is now homeless and concocts a convoluted plan to get Jeff to let him stay at his place for a while. In this episode Chang embodies what I like most about shows like Community (and Scrubs before it). While Chang delivers some of the best jokes of the episode, such as his random and over-excited use of nunchakus, there is within the comedy gold a deep character filled with emotion and drama. When Chang begs for Jeff to let him stay, I felt the helplessness, and later when Chang yells at his hermit crabs, I was slightly distressed by how sad Chang really seemed. Chang works best when he isn’t just a crazy guy. He works best when his craziness is explained. When he’s human.


I’ve recently watched a lot of Community.  But watching a season and a half in under 3 days was just as entertaining as ever. Going back to the first few episodes, though, it surprised me how different these characters have become. How much they’ve subtly grown over the episodes. At the beginning, Troy and Abed would never work as best friends, but now they do. In the beginning, Chang was strong and cocky and in control, and now he’s seemingly pathetic and helpless. In the beginning, Britta was pretentious and superior, and now she’s... Well, she’s exactly the same. But you can’t win them all. Either way, I’m just glad to have another episode of Community that I will enjoy returning to again and again. Watch this show. You won’t regret it.



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