10
Feb
2011
Community: Season 2, Episode 15
Early 21st Century Romanticism
Jordan
Community handles big, sweeping emotions very well. When it wants to be a romance, it manages to get everyone on board with whoever it wants that week. When it needs a heartwarming ending, it will arm those hearts. The show knows how to get people on board with its message. So I expected to be blown away by "Early 21st Century Romanticism." Perhaps my high expectations are the reason I was disappointed by tonight. I was looking for a bit of sweeping romance tonight. The show instead delivered a fairly subtle examination of modern interpersonal relationships. It wasn't what I was looking for, and it wasn't the show's best episode by a long shot, but "Early 21st Century Romanticism" was ultimately sort of satisfying, in its own quiet way.

Really, this is probably the sort of episode the show needed to do at this point. After the high concept Dungeons and Dragons episode last week, it needed to take things down several notches and do a character episode. This is that, certainly, and maybe even a bit too much so. Other than Pierce, who seems to have gone completely off the deep end this week (with the returning Andy Dick as his hallucinated companion), everyone pretty much goes through the motions that we're used to seeing. Jeff claims to not care about anyone, but by episode's end he knows that he needs everyone. Britta is self-righteous and superior, hanging out with a girl she thinks is a lesbian just to show she's not homophobic, but is humbled by the end and realizes she's kind of silly. Troy and Abed think they might like a girl more than each other, but of course they don't and end up together. Chang is crazy and needy. Duncan is lonely. Everyone goes through the usual motions, and doesn't really seem to have changed all that much.

This season, Community has left Greendale a lot more than it did in its first, when it stayed confined there almost exclusively. So it made sense that in an episode seemingly dedicated to proving that the show can still be exactly as it was last year (which I guess is a good thing?), the show stayed confined mostly to Greendale. Though, because at this point it has expanded the world its set in, we also got a subplot set in Jeff's apartment. I'm glad that the show can still do small-scale like it did tonight, but small-scale doesn't necessarily have to mean low ambition or fewer jokes (didn't it seem like the laughs came less regularly tonight?).

The show still did a few interesting things tonight though. Jeff, for example, sort of had fun at the party with Duncan, Chang, Starburns, Leonard, and people named things like Magnitude and Glisten. We know Jeff grudgingly loves the maniacs he hangs out with, but this episode demonstrated, and fairly subtly, that Jeff is starting to care about people in general. I also like where the show left us, with the potential that Jeff and Chang will be roommates for a little while, which I think could play great dividends in weeks to come. Pierce's loneliness and isolation have been slowly building for episodes (leading me to think next week HAS to be a Pierce episode), sometimes in the background and sometimes in the foreground. More than I'm interested in Pierce's apparent drug addiction (which is interesting, don't get me wrong), I'm interested in how well the show has learned to work with its characters. Last season it was Jeff's show, with Britta and Abed as the main supporting characters. This year, we've seen Troy, Shirley, Pierce, and even Chang on their own journeys, and it has all worked into the show's narrative very fluidly.

Admittedly, most of those journeys weren't on display here this evening, and what was didn't work as well as the show usually does. There was nothing inherently wrong with Britta's attempts to befriend a lesbian (who really just thought that Britta was a lesbian) or with troy and Abed trying to co-date the librarian, and both stories had laughs. Its just that neither of them were as funny as I hoped they might be. Even the heartwarming ending didn't get me anywhere beyond, "well that was nice," which probably wasn't what they were going for, but at this point, I need something more than just "Jeff really DOES like the gang" to get a full "aww." I'm chalking all of this up to the idea that this is a breather episode between big sweeps episodes, and that's ok. It just wasn't as good as I think the show can be, even in an off episode.

Grade: B-

Notes:

-I love John Oliver. I wish he was always around. I also love BNL.

-"And, in summation, good luck and bon appetit."

-"I'm a stylish American, professor. I've been forcing myself to be into soccer since 2004."

-"In England, everything means vagina."

-"Where are the white women at?"

-"Troy. I would love to be his friend." "I know you would. Its incredible."

-I loved how Allison Brie played the moment when Annie thought she and Britta were going to make out.

-"These knuckleheads are right outside your heart. Let them in before its too late." Okay. Minor aww there.
Tags: Community
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