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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: Community, "Herstory of Dance"

Season 4, Episode 8
Grade: C-
Verdict: This is a forgettable episode that suffers from two mistakes: 1) showcasing Abed as a romantic, emotional character and 2) Jeff is a jerk, learns a silly lesson and then eat humble pie like he does in _every_episode_ever.

The start of this episode was incredibly promising. It looked like Britta and the dean were basically pitted against each other for a competition to see who could throw the better dance, and nothing on Community is better than Britta vs. the dean. Somehow, though, that got way from the episode quickly, and the episode turned into a Jeff Vs. Britta battle, which we basically see every week.

In this week's opening, the dean - decked out in black and white make up and clothing - announces he's throwing a 50s-themed dance a la Sadie Hawkins. Britta denounces the concept of a Sadie Hawkins dance as feminist and declares she wants to throw a Sophie B. Hawkins themed night instead. She means Susan B. Anthony, but she refers to the singer by mistake. Jeff pounces on the opportunity to make Britta admit she's wrong, and Britta follows through, insisting she meant Sophie B. Hawkins instead of admitting she's wrong. The ante ups throughout the episode as the two continue to play chicken.

The B plot of this episode centers around Abed. Annie and Shirley want to set him up with a date for the dance, and they begin their own competition to see who can pick the better match. Abed decides to go for the two-dates-one-dance trope and accepts invitations from them both, but while playing the game, he meets a woman he actually relates to.

Did you ever look at something so closely that you can't really see it for what it is anymore? Sometimes I worry I do that with TV shows by reviewing them. Like perhaps this would have been a decent, enjoyable episode of a show I generally like if it weren't for the fact that I'm putting it under a microscope. Maybe this is one of those shows where you really can't/shouldn't think too hard.

Rant aside, I obviously really didn't enjoy this episode. If I'd seen it right out of the gate of season 4 I'd be a bit more amenable to it, but I'm completely bored with the same-y nature of the episodes lately. The show did break from standard formula by highlighting Abed as a romantic lead and protagonist, which was a nice idea in theory, but they've focused on making him eccentric and stoic for so long that it's hard for me to feel like he's capable of genuine emotion. I also know this is fiction and the writers can do whatever they want, but for people who have a hard time dealing with other people and feelings, it's unusual for cute, quirky women to fall into your lap and find you irresistible. It all felt a bit unearned.

And you're probably as tired of hearing me complain about it as I am of seeing it, but why does this show always focus on making Jeff a jerk at the beginning of each episode and then a really nice guy by the end? Can he not just STAY nice ever? He's continuously used as a vehicle for the show to get lesson-y and teach us all morals about being good little humans. As I mentioned earlier, this episode could have been miles more successful if it'd focused on the conflict between the dean and Britta and kept Jeff's character and growth out of the equation.

To end on a more positive note, I thought the threads of this week's episodes blended together much more nicely than they have lately. There weren't extraneous or strange stories going on in a way that felt like time-fillers, and Britta's character is still pulling off her antics in a way that is surprisingly charming.

I also quite enjoyed the puppet scene at the end. Can next week's episode please actually be in puppet format?

Favorite quote: "According to Dean Law I must now give her my amulet."
Favorite moment: The Dean in 50s black-and-white makeup/costuming
Least favorite moment: Shirley and Annie fighting over who comes up with the better date
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