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Community: Romantic Expressionism

“So clearly, we’re all a bunch of funny people.”

We all want something we can’t have. I want a koala, but let’s be honest—that’s not gonna happen under today’s tyrannical exotic pet laws. Pierce wants to be funny, but that’s about as likely as my koala fantasy. Annie wants Troy, but she also just wants romantic attention. Troy wants to get laid. Jeff and Britta want to do good and spite Mr. Micro-Nipples. Even a koala couldn’t improve those opportunities for double-crosses and silly mistakes.

“Romantic Expressionism” doesn’t quite have the hook of many other Community episodes. But it does have heart, and it makes great use of the various past experiences of this group of hapless, hopeless, loveless friends. Let’s re-cap:

• Jeff’s affair with Professor Hot Stuff takes him off the romantic table, even though...
• Annie and Jeff’s debate kiss is still the sexy elephant in the room, which Britta brings up because...
• Britta used to date Vaughn, which means...
• Jeff hates Vaughn on principle, which means...
• Annie cannot date him, also on principle, and also because...
• Britta is jealous...
• Just like Shirley and everyone else is jealous of Troy and Abed’s relationship...
• Especially Pierce, who will never “get with” anyone in the group...

...All of which results in an extended series of complicated glances as everyone ponders Jeff’s theory that sexual attraction within the group is likely. And all of which winds up, as it would have to, with Jeff’s and Britta’s secret scheme utterly backfiring and making everyone realize the power of letting little Annie Adderall make her own mistakes with a shoeless, shirtless hippie.

The episode ends (before the title card; I’m not referring to the impending Troy/Abed cyborg sex scene) with the group walking away from each other, disgusted by Pierce’s lust. It’s telling that they walk away, as the intrusion of an outside love interest does threaten the group, even if everyone is willing to let Annie find her own way. But the group can walk away, because they know they’ll always have the study room to come back to.

This week in B-plots: I’ve mentioned before that Chevy Chase is great at falling, and Community managed to make that a delightful in-joke: unable to be funny in the Mystery Science Theatre-inspired dorm activities, Pierce gets the biggest laugh of the night with an unintentionally slapstick fall. Laughter is the key to joining Team Tro-Bed, and Pierce starts to find a home in the “creepy circle” of sexually frustrated losers.

Mark Says...

This was the episode that gave us Kickpuncher, the awesomely awful Robocop knock-off that doesn't exist but really should. Oh, Kickpuncher. Why have we forsaken you? You were Inspector Spacetime before there was an Inspector Spacetime. I guess your punches were just not powerful enough to compete with a Doctor Who parody.

I'm glad that Annie has gotten over Troy. She finally realised that he will never love her the same way he does his other half. Too bad she decided to move on with Greendale's resident hippie gateway douchebag, Vaughan (first or last name unknown). You want to be careful, Annie. You're about to start down a dark path, one that will possibly lead all the way to the back-seat of Starburns' car. Get out now. Get out before Vaughan seduces you with more of his simplistic, yet adorable, songs.

Cool Cool Cool:

• Pierce: “You think I’m too old to make monkeyshines at a picture show?”
• Pierce: “Sorry, Shirley. I’ll wait if you want to serve beverages.”
Shirley: “You’re going to be waiting a long-ass time.”
• Troy: “I know chemistry is sexy. But Annie? I don’t see it.”
• SeƱor Chang: “I’m a tenured professor sitting in a bean-bag chair.”
Abed: “You’re not a professor.”
• Troy’s sexy eyes vaguely resemble his Forest Whitaker eyes.
• I love that Shirley kept her purse on her lap the entire time.

Three out of four kickpunchers.

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


  1. That series of glances was one of Community's greatest visual gags - definitely worth the ticket price alone! They did a similar one in Remedial Chaos Theory which was almost as good, though you just can't beat the first time... that sentence ended up in a different place from where it started.

  2. I'm not sure that an outside love interest would be as big a threat as an internal one. When one is involved in a group with dynamics as complicated this one, any shift in those dynamics can be much scarier to the ones not directly involved in the switch.

    But, the series of glances was comic gold.


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