21
Oct
2010
Community: Season 2, Episode 5
Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples
Jordan
One of the sitcom trope that Community often latches onto is the idea that one member of the group leaving said group to join another group, one that they might fit in better with. The show has done this with several characters (most recently with Jeff in "Accounting for Lawyers"), and "Ancient Peoples" was finally time for Pierce to begin hanging out with his own age group. I generally think these plotlines are a waste of time when other shows do them, especially because its obvious that the character won't actually be leaving the group for longer than the twenty minutes that comprise the episode, but somehow this show makes it work each and every time. It helps that "Ancient Peoples" has some inspired subplots, but even the Pierce story works sufficiently well to overcome the cliche that it could easily end up mired in.

Pierce is tired of everyone mocking his old person sense of humor and view of the world, and he's tired of being bossed around by younger people in his group (which leads to a clever running gag that I'll discuss below) and so he begins hanging out with the "hipsters on campus," so called because they have all had hip replacements. Leonard, of course, is their leader, and the gang pretty much functions like a gaggle of rastabout teenagers, with Pierce playing the role of the concerned do-gooder who has fallen in with the bad crowd for the course of the episode. Once the hipsters steal a car and crash it into a light pole, Pierce realizes where he truly belongs. If I have a problem with this plotline, its less that its cliche, and more that it plays an old man's descent into senility as a running gag. The moment is actually pretty heartbreaking, and it is played for a pretty cheap laugh.

However, that misstep is saved by the brilliant running gag that casts Jeff and Britta as Pierce's over-protective parent figures. While the "character leaves the group" storyline is overused, and the "generally good teenager who tries to rebel" storyline comes up pretty much as often, I thought turning Pierce into the teenage character, and having Jeff and Britta spout the lines usually handed to "concerned parents," albeit reluctantly, breathed new life into what is a pretty tired premise.

In the excellent subplot, Shirley tries to recruit Abed to help her make a pro-Christian movie, and Abed ends up splintering off to become his own Christ-like figure for the post-post modern age. The brilliance of this storyline comes in the way it already anticipates the praise that will be heaped upon it by fans of the meta (myself included) and mocks them for adoring meta jokes for meta's sake. I like to think that I enjoy meta jokes for deeper reasons than the episode points out, but maybe I'm just the Dean in disguise (I do love Charlie Kaufman...). Anyway, its pretty hard to deny the comedic glory of Abed in a Jesus wig preaching about how we all live films every second of every day. "Ancient Peoples" subverted a standard sitcom trope in its A-plot and a standard Community joke in its B-plot. In other words, it was a solid episode of an incredibly solid, incredibly intelligent sitcom that is quickly becoming the best comedy on tv.

Grade: A-

Notes:

-"I'm the ski lift ninja!"

-"That's blasphemous. Who would want to see that?" "17 million people." "Oh. There were 9 people at my church last night..."

-"Auto tun God of Farts."

-"ABED. All caps. Film making beyond film making."

-"I mean come on Charlie Kaufman, some of us have work in the morning, damn!"

-"Unacceptable. None of your business. And barely the whole truth."

-"We are film." "This is totally meta."

-"I heard that the deleted scenes are the scenes, and the scenes are the deleted scenes."

-"Every minute of our lives is the premiere, and my dad's already bought the popcorn."

-"Say what you will about Abed, but its almost like he can't be killed...Because he's just like Jesus." "I got it!"

-"I'm Pierce Hawthorne's emergency contact." "Are you here to pick him up?" "No, I'm here to be removed as his emergency contact." It was a sweet moment that Jeff stayed on there, and a sad one that no one was coming for Leonard.

-"Ok. Open your books. Because Abed has broken the Internet."
Tags: Community
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