Community: Season 2, Episode 7
Aerodynamics of Gender
If last week proved anything, its that Community has created a universe in which pretty much anything is possible. That allows the show a great deal of freedom to go to the weird places it seems most drawn to, and also makes it the most original show around right now. Unlike its main comedy competition, Modern Family (a show I quite like, but also one that just pulls out a standard family sitcom plot every week), this show often comes up with concepts so strange and out there that they could only work here. "Aerodynamics of Gender" is a step down after two stellar episodes in a row, but it also goes to a stranger place than any episode since the group learned to sail in a parking lot last season (and wasn't over-relying on parody to get it there).
The transcendence in this episode was all confined to the B-story, where Jeff and Troy discovered a Secret Garden-like paradise with a trampoline, and discovered true tranquility. This storyline was flat out strange, from the gardner Joshua, to Troy and Jeff's sudden peace-out, to Pierce's brand new ability to fly remote control spy planes very well (and a drug habit that had him hallucinating Andy Dick as the pilot). Just summarizing this plotline makes it sound like the show might have gone a step too far, but because it established the garden as a place that was literally magical, almost everything it threw in fell within my suspension of disbelief (which this show carefully expands week by week to allow it to get away with zombia apocalypses and magical trampolines when it wants to). That the subplot ended with the fall of the garden and paradise being lost because of the evils that men (mostly Pierce) do was pretty expected, but the reveal that Joshua was a racist the whole time added a twist to it, and the fact that the show took it to the next level with Jeff's realization that "purity that demands exclusivity isn't purity at all. Maybe paradise is a lie..." made the subplot even better. Community gets a lot of leeway from me in the absurdity department not only because I happen to love absurdity, but also because it almost always grounds its crazy plots in real human emotions, telling meaningful stories in inventive new ways. That the show can drop a realistic and meaningful philosophical nugget into a subplot with a trampoline being needlessly chainsawed apart is what I love most about the show.
The A-plot is problematic however, and mostly because it lacks the careful attention to character detail and the resonant meaning of the subplot. I buy that Britta would want to take a women's studies class (hell, I'd buy that as her major), and I completely believe that Shirley and Annie have devious sides, but Britta's rise to queen bitch felt very off to me. I think it could have been made to fit in her character, as she is at heart just as vain and needy as Jeff, but the episode didn't devote any time to explaining her sudden desperate need to take down all of the "mean girls." Abed was used perfectly, and his realization that his power was evil and that the social order needed to be restored was a nice little arc for him, yet I can't help but feel like the storyline for the girls in an episode called "Aerodynamics of Gender" was a little lazy and undercooked. The show could have had an actual discussion on women in the media or on gender, but instead it went for the stereotypical "girls fight bitchy girls" plotline and mostly used its female characters as the necessary pawns in the story. Community has excellent, fully realized female characters, and is quite capable of digging into deep issues (see the B-plot), but this plotline failed to utilize the show's skills.
Yet even with a weak A-plot, "Aerodynamics of Gender" was very funny and singularly Community. Even with the decrease in quality from the last two weeks, this was a solid episode of a show that's barreling guns blazing through what's becoming a stellar second season.
-"I usually wear contacts, but I couldn't find them without my glasses...which I wear..."
-"Why name your daughter Megan? Are you stocking up for a bitch shortage?"
-"Who else saw you come in?" "If we say nobody are you going to stab us with your bush scissors?"
-"But then you started bouncing. Like a baby on the knees of a goddess."
-"Its called a muffin top, Abed." "Like a muffin. Clever."
-"You look like you're smuggling a lime and a coconut."
-"Exactly like Rowboat Cop! Charisse is a bad rowboat. Sink her."
-"Are those as comfortable as they look?""They're like wearing a pair of dreams."
-"Tell me how to get this laid back, or I'll kill your families!"
-"It's going to be a maze."-Joshua, showing off his swastika tatoo to an oblivious Troy and Jeff.
-Starburns really wants people to call him by Alex, his real name.