24
Feb
2011
Community: Season 2, Episode 17
Intro to Political Science
Jordan
After last week's harrowing journey into Pierce's soul, it was obvious that Community would need to go lighter to keep things from straying into the abyss. And so, Pierce's cruelty last week was barely mentioned (except when the group wondered if they were glad to have him back) and the show was turned over, kinda sorta, to my favorite coupling for a Jeff and Annie storyline. Jeff and Annie have phenomenal chemistry that the show can turn on whenever it needs a great romantically charged episode. But the problem with the pairing, and, I think, the problem with "Intro to Political Science" is that the show doesn't honestly know how it would handle a Jeff and Annie relationship. The writers recognize, just as Jeff does, that Annie is 19, and that having her date someone in his thirties would probably be very creepy. Empirically, this is true, but I wish the writers would get over their squeamishness already, because the more they return to this plotline, the clearer it seems that these two belong together.

When Community began, it set Jeff and Britta up as the "will-they-won't-they," but thankfully the show pretty much abandoned that idea once Jeff and Annie worked so well. I love the Jeff-Britta pairing now mostly because it has become some freakish revelry of self-loathing that is a terrible thing the two keep seeming to fall into. That's much funnier than trying to put them together, and it makes episodes when the show decides it wants Jeff-Britta tension that much funnier. What the writers haven't quite figured out is hoe to let Jeff have what he, and everyone else, seems to want. This is good because it never makes the stalling portion of any "will-they-won't they" feel forced, a big problem in most tv shows that fear putting their couple together too early. In this case, the two have real reasons not to be together, and it never feels like stalling when Jeff is uncomfortable with his attraction. Yet that uncomfortableness squelched the ending of this episode, which took the pairing so far, and then no further, on their road to a relationship.

The construct that this tension plays out in is pretty predictable, really, but also pretty funny so I can't complain too much. Joe Biden is coming to Greendale (ok...) and the Dean needs to elect a student body president to meet with him. Obviously Annie, ever the idealist, wants to be elected, and Jeff, ever the cynic, wants to prove to her that politics is silly and the least common denominator wins votes. You expect both of them to behave exactly as they do, and this might have gotten a little boring for its patness were it not for the chemistry between Jeff and Annie, whose competition is as much about winning the other's respect as it is about winning the election.

The Election is pretty great stuff, honestly. The Dean is wearing a ridiculous Uncle Sam get up, and we get appearances from some great recurrign characters, including Starburns, Leonard, and Magnitude. We're left with a strange, Greendale-ized refraction of the 2008 election as Leonard plays his age card and changes his name to Rodriguez to court the Latino vote, and Magnitude just yells "pop pop," is youthful, and seems to want to bring an eternal party to Greendale. Yet this is a terrible, silly place and so instead of electing either of the only sort of legitimate candidates, Greendale elects South Park president (with help from Troy and Abed, who both voted for it).

While all of this is going on, Abed has a suitably strange, abortive romance with an awkward Secret Service Agent (Eliza Coupe, who played a sassy intern in late-era Scrubs) who continues to try to make him seem threatening so she can spend more time with him. There wasn't much here, and I kind of hope to never see her character again, but it was a little fun watching someone be truly interested in Abed and watching him actually know just what to do to win her heart (like saying the recipe for napalm during his campus TV election coverage). Look, there were some very good things in this episode, but ultimately it was felled by something this show almost never has a problem with: tentativeness. Community is a brave, audacious, experimental sitcom that seems willing to try just about anything. Its time for the writers to man up and give Jeff and Annie the real effort their plotline deserves.

Grade: B

Notes:

-I LOVED Jeff's Real World audition. I'd like to see more young, stupid Jeff in the future please.

-Abed keeps notches on the desk of "Classic Winger's" and also, apparently of "Notches."

-Newscrawl items: Apparently Slater is still missing (?), there are still chicken finger shortages, Starburns REALLY wants people to call him Alan, and there will be no paintball this spring. Also, it looks like there may be a Western episode in the show's future.

-"I'm more a silverback gorilla with the claws of a lion, the teeth of a shark, and the quite dignity of a tortoise."

-"I believe humankind should not be governed!...I don't care." "Well, its good to know there's a floor to this thing."

-"Its like God spilled a person."

-"Do you just constantly have your own side adventures?" "Yup." "...Me too..."

-Nice to see Greendale is still represented by the butthole flag from earlier this season.

-"I always found the distinction between duck and goose very arbitrary."

-"The margin of error is 98%." "Could be higher. We don't even know how to do a margin of error. We just talked to two people by the vending machines."

-I think our own Chris will be a little upset tonight, as his dream of an episode set around Greendale's TV Station seems to have been sort of crushed.

-"You smell like nice soap. I have to go. I'm sorry you aren't a more obvious threat to the country."

-Joe Biden: "I just had a dream that I was a regular president."
Tags: Community
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