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Community: Spanish 101

“You understand that TV and life are different, right?”

Britta’s “douche-ray vision” can tell that Jeff is “cute, but selfish, and narcissistic to the point of near delusion.” Jeff’s happy he’s cute. And that’s the predominant tension thus far: will Jeff redeem himself enough to win the approval of a woman who knows stuff about, like, journalists in Guatemala? Will they? Won’t they? Community defuses that tension by drawing attention to it, making it one big 'shipper joke.

The focus in this second episode remains primarily on Jeff and Britta. But “Spanish 101” gives us a better sense of the group, although Annie, Shirley, Abed, Troy, and Pierce are still in sidekick mode: every scene contains either Jeff or Britta. As the group begins to coalesce, though, we can see that even the wacky sidekicks have fascinating perspectives, habits, and quirks:

Pierce, whose sperm “shoot through the eggs like bullets,” is the tone-deaf, out-of-touch inheritor of a moist-toilette company who just wants friends. Abed sees everything through the lens of television, and provides most of the in-joke commentaries. (He would be so happy to realize that he’s in a TV show and not a real person.) Troy is still just a rough sketch, but he and Abed seem to be forming some sort of bond. Annie is a crazed overachiever, and Shirley is Annie plus age, pastry, and Jesus.

While the main cast is slowly transforming into real characters, “Spanish 101” also introduced us to Señor Chang, the world’s worst Spanish teacher. Now is a good time for me to admit that Señor Chang drives me crazy. He’s like a terrible one-off character who doesn’t realize that he should have stopped showing up to the set years ago. (That I’ve spent billions of hours in Spanish classes probably just makes it worse; I always had great Spanish teachers who were awesome, interesting women that for some odd reason tended to provide useful life advice. To say the least, Chang is not any of that.)

“Spanish 101” is really “Community Pilot 102”: a stronger entry than the previous episode, but in retrospect the show still has a lot of growing to do. Jeff’s and Pierce’s montage was funny, some of the quips were great, and Allison Brie in particular did a great job of crafting a character from quirky line readings. But the highlight for me is Abed’s and Troy’s Spanish rap about goats, cold potatoes, and Cameron Diaz. That’s the sort of craziness that Community does best, and it will take a few more episodes before the show becomes comfortable with its strengths.

Mark Says...

Let's talk about Chang for a minute. Nah, on second thought let's not talk about Chang. He is a silly character, and Josie has said all that needed to be said.

Instead let's talk about Pierce, the senile uncle of this unlikely family. Even though is appalling Spanish presentation with Jeff (complete with Amiee Mann soundtrack) was the highlight of the episode, Pierce is by far the least popular and least funny member of the Greendale 7. So how do you solve a problem like Pierce Hawthorne? How do you catch a cloud and get it to stop making inappropriate remarks?

Well, first of all create a character that is twice as annoying (Chang) so Pierce looks better by default. And second, limit his screentime, something this episode does not do. Pierce is a character who is only bearable in small doses. Very small doses. So use him sparingly. I know Chevy Chase is the most famous member of the cast and you want to make use of him, but let's be honest, this isn't exactly Fletch era Chevy we're talking about.

On a more positive note, Abed and Troy are already start to orbit towards each other. The defining relationship of the show is coming together nicely. But they really need to put more work into their trademark hand slap. You guys are close but you're not quite there yet.

Cool Cool Cool:

• Annie: “Maybe when Jeff gets here we can talk to him about his tardiness.”
Pierce: “Oh, c’mon. Don’t use that word around Abed.”

• Pierce: “We can have what the kids are calling a sausage-fest.”

• Annie: “We could have a candlelight vigil like lesbians have on the news!”
Shirley: “I could make brownies!”

• Pierce: “To the empowerage of words.”
Jeff: “To the irony of that sentence.”

• Jeff looked silly in Abed’s shirt.

• But he looked great in the angel/butterfly wings. And don’t get me started on the tinfoil robot costumes.

Two and a half out of four sausage-fests.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Totally agree about Chang. I just don't see the appeal. And I could live without Pierce too, though I like the broad age range of the study group, and it would be a lot less broad without him.

  2. The surreal scene in the class about the weird Pierce-Jeff exposé blew my mind.

    Still does today.

  3. My fave line in this episode? Troy (about Pierce): That dude is CRAZY. He told me girls have two pee holes.

  4. I agree completely about Abed's and Troy's rap at the end. I laughed so hard through it the first time that I had to watch it again. Simply hilarious.

    This show still feels a bit uneven to me. Some of the scenes drag (Pierce getting drunk and writing the sketch) and others I would like to have spent more time in (the protest). But, it is making me laugh.

    What has struck me through both of these episodes is how much Go On, the only sitcom I am currently watching religiously, borrows from this one. The cute, damaged lead character who finds himself surrounded by a group of misfits who slowly become his friends and family. There is even the woman, who leads the group, with whom the sexual sparks fly. As I have seen more episodes of the newer show than I have this one, I will be interested to see how much of an homage is eventually paid.

  5. Chris,

    Re read my previous comment up there. If you're willing to go over the weaker moments, you will find some dazzling ones. The best has yet to come......


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