Community: Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing

"I am at a total loss about what lesson to learn from any of this."
"Maybe that's the lesson."

The Dean is given a place on the School Board, Annie and Chang do some amdram, and Abed and Elroy take a moral stand not to fix the wifi for at least a week.

The A plot of this episode, in which the School Board want to use the Dean as a gay figurehead to prove they aren't homophobic, provides a welcome opportunity for the Dean to take front and centre again. He's one of my favourite characters, and increasingly one of the richest on the show, so it's nice to see, though ultimately perhaps not quite as satisfying as his first moment in the limelight, season 3's 'Documentary Filmmaking: Redux'. It's well played, though, and the constant presence of Dalmatian-themed memorabilia around the Dean's office is a good visual reminder of the fact he's so much more than gay. The Dean's comments about politicians at the climax may be a bit obvious and on the nose, but they're generally worth saying anyway.

Annie and Chang's storyline is a pretty good use of my least favourite character (Chang, not Annie). The Internet informs me it's a parody of Whiplash, which I haven't seen, but it works well with the Chang character, who is generally at his least irritating when being victimised instead of victimising other people. It's not a bad story for over-achieving Annie either, and I liked the callback to earlier seasons with Annie Kim replacing her. Community also continues the sitcom theme of identifying alternative heroes in The Karate Kid (which I also haven't seen), following Barney in How I Met Your Mother's insistence that the real hero is Billy Zabka's Johnny Lawrence.

The C plot featuring Abed, Elroy and some birds doesn't really register much, though it does intersect neatly with the Dean's story at one point, making it feel a bit more integral to the episode than it otherwise could have. The final shot is so predictable as to be more aggravating than funny, though.

Overall, a solid instalment of the show - enjoyable enough with nothing awful or ludicrous in it, though nothing especially memorable either. All these season 6 episodes still feel a little bit too long as well, with Chang's play in this one going on far longer than it needed to - it is certainly possible to produce a tight, fast-paced sitcom episode that lasts 30 minutes (all BBC sitcoms including Blackadder and Red Dwarf are this length) but you need a little bit more to either the plot or the depth of the character work to pull it off, and it's clear the writers, more accustomed to the shorter, sharper 20-minute format, haven't quite worked out how to adapt their writing style to include 10 extra minutes yet. But still, a perfectly pleasant visit to Greendale.

Bits and pieces

 - There are times when, as a lecturer in a former community-college-type institution that recently became a university, some of the storylines on Community are so real to me, it hurts. The thing about the wifi is one of them. The wifi in my office goes down every lunchtime, I only have an hour between classes on Tuesdays to check my e-mail. If I can't do it at lunch I have to do it when I get in the evening. It's a serious problem! Well, a very annoying one, anyway.

 - Loved the Dean and Jeff's silent conversation about Frankie's sexuality.

 - There's no separate extended tag on this episode (just the culmination of the bird storyline), with Chang's play filling that role instead. I think I preferred the extended tags.

 - You will have 'Jolene' stuck in your head for hours after watching this episode.


Dean: Get ready, America - Dean Pelton is coming out as approximately two-sevenths of what he is!

Dean: Are politicians like you? Well we look like you, but we will say and do whatever we have to in order to acquire and keep our jobs. It means nothing I say and very few of the things I think can be trusted.

Annie (on Chang): It's such a relief to be able to support him out of something other than fear.

Annie: I'm jealous.
Chang: No, no, don't be. Believe me, I sit in my dressing room and all I dream about is a white picket fence and a dog.
Annie: I don't have those either.

Bland but sorta nice. Two out of four dramatic re-interpretations of The Karate Kid.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.


Josie Kafka said...

Bland but sorta nice.

Well said.

I rewatched the first two seasons of Community recently, and I was struck by how incredible they were. Not having seen them in a while, I had thought that I was just not as into the show as I used to be. But, no, that's not correct: Community just doesn't have the same punch it used to. Still fun, but not as much fun.

FlopHairedWuss said...

While I agree about the pacing issues, I actually really enjoyed this one. I thought the A and B plots worked really well, and the C-plot, while not great wasn't overt enough to distract from the episode.

I loved the reference to Paget Brewster's previous appearance on the show.
Also "I'm not openly anything, and gay doesn't even begin to cover it."
Such a great summation of the Dean's sexuality.

While I have been enjoying this season more than most, I agree that it's not quite the Community we know and love. It is still very funny, but it's just a shame that the heart and soul of the show present in earlier seasons, seems to have been somewhat lost along the way. The show feels a bit too cynical at times and that's really not what Community was ever about.