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Community: The Politics of Human Sexuality

“Catch knowledge!”

An STD Fair is easy game, even for a show like Community that manages to make the most obvious jokes delightfully complicated. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the three plot lines in this episode have more to do with the characters learning about themselves and admitting hard truths (pun!) than sex.

Pierce’s “date” claims that as men get older they want someone to talk to rather than sleep with. Jeff Winger started out as a shallow, insensitive, lusty bundle of narcissism and hair-gel. Over the past half-season, though, he has grown into a…well, not quite a grown-up. But at least he doesn’t have the call list of a 20 year old boy anymore. He’s certainly learning something in college.

Meanwhile, Troy has to come to terms with his own inadequacies: he’s just not the superjock anymore, at least not compared to the all-purpose Abed. In the previous episode, Troy had to deal with giving as well as taking in a friendlationship, and this time ‘round he has learned that sometimes friends have to admit that one is better than another. His willingness to let Abed enjoy the Great Fame and Wonderous Accolades of being The Best Athlete on Campus shows that he, like Jeff, is starting to move past the person he was before Greendale.

So is Annie. Her inadequate knowledge of the male anatomy is a fun character piece, and her decision to remain completely comfortable with being completely uncomfortable about sex is as close as this episode ever gets to making a joke about the inadequacies of the STD fair in the context of America’s (lack of) sex education. It also raises a weird question, though: if the love triangle that started to emerge in “Debate 109” is something we’re supposed to be invested in, how creepy is it that Jeff has feelings towards a girl who is as close to a virgin as someone who’s had sex can be? The age thing doesn’t bother me, but that’s a little skeevy. It will be interesting to see how Community manages, or doesn’t, to deal with that issue. (I’ve seen through Season Three, so I know exactly what happens, but I don’t want to spoil anything.)

So what did we learn at the educational event of the week? That giant stuffed bears are awesome prizes, that a penis looks like a giant thumb in a turtleneck (I'm never having sex again, thanks to that imagery), that Jeff is maturing enough to think of women as people with names rather than physical features, that Abed is an awesome athlete. Not bad for a fair so ill-run that people are advised not to use the condoms if they’re having sex.

Mark Says...

One of the things I love most about Community is that it doesn't go for the obvious choices when selecting films to parody. A lesser show would just settle for a recent blockbuster or a famous classic to ensure that everyone got the joke. Community isn't like that. This show doesn't make the joke fit the reference. It makes the reference fit the joke. So rather than select something everyone is familiar with, they instead go for something as obscure (and dreadful) as Over the Top, Sylvester Stallone's 1987 arm wrestling 'classic'. I know many will have looked at this scene and gone 'huh?' but I for one thought it was inspired. How Danny Pundi failed to win an Emmy for his Stallone face remains a complete mystery to me. I mean, look at it:

If that isn't award winning comedy acting I don't know what is.

Cool Cool Cool:

• Sabrina: “‘Secretary’ is a little demeaning to women. I help the dean do officey things.”
Britta: “Gender saved.”

• Troy: “Taking a call girl to an STD fair? There’s a joke here...Something to do with crabs? They’re like a food but they’re also a disease...Don’t eat the crab dip, ya ya!”

• Shirley: “Being a virgin in this day is something to be proud of. You’re like a unicorn.”

• Annie: “A giant thumb in a turtleneck. Whoop-de-doo!”

• Annie wore gloves to the Great Penis Heist...

• And Abed waited for the appropriate dramatic music before commencing the arm-wrestling fight...

• While Britta and Shirley have clearly had different penile experiences.

Three out of four anatomically correct thingamabobs.

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


  1. You two crack me up.

    No wonder I come back for more...

  2. In addition to the Stallone reference, the "Reverse Porky's" reference made me laugh out loud. Guess we know in which generation these writers grew up!

    A joke only works if the image works. And, let's admit it, a thumb in a turtleneck is an image that works.


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