Community Watch: Aerodynamics Of Gender

Abed may be the best character on Community, but he’s the worst character to write about. For one thing, he always pulls up the most obscure movie references that leave me feeling like an uncultured swine for not getting. And secondly, he’s too damn funny! In Abed-heavy episodes, one-liners often burst forth with machine-gun cadence, leaving my poor fingers weary as I struggle to type out my favorites. This was one such episode.

The main storyline centers on the ladies of the study group as they take a Women’s Studies course. When Abed decides to tag along, the ladies are at first apprehensive; they view the class as a way for the trio to bond as women away from their testosterone-driven counterparts. However, they soon find the value of Abed’s company as he reveals remarkable talent in the field of keen observation, i.e. extreme bitchiness.

The ladies use Abed’s catty zingers to drive off a pack of “mean girls” and their leader Meghan (played by Hilary Duff). But with an ultimate weapon at their disposal, the ladies begin using Abed vindictively to settle old scores. Abed has no wish to be mean-spirited, but the girls teach him that being mean to mean girls isn’t being mean at all. Abed takes this to mean he is some sort of Robocop (which Britta tries to reinforce by saying mean girls are like “bad rowboats” which must be sunk), and he becomes a machine Hell-bent on the verbal destruction of mean girls.

But of course, the ladies are unable to contain themselves, and soon become the very people they once conspired against. This causes Abed’s behavioral sensors to become corrupt, and soon he judges all people to be bitches. Soon, Abed has gone berserk, and begins pointing out the flaws of everyone around him – unprovoked or no. This includes Britta, Shirley and Annie, all of whom are caught in the blast radius of Abed’s bitch bomb.

Abed is so adept at his verbal assaults that the only one powerful enough to stop him is: himself. Realizing this, he initiates a self-destruct sequence by giving Meghan notes on his own biggest character flaws. Meghan, now loaded with ammunition, confronts Abed publicly and retakes the Greendale bitch throne. Annie, Britta and Shirley warm up to the now-powerless Abed, and life in the study group returns to the status quo.

To be honest, I didn’t expect much from Hillary Duff in her guest starring role, but she was very believable in her limited time on screen. Who knew she could play a bitch with such authenticity? But seriously, she did a good job playing the Rachel McAdams character from Mean Girls -- who was both immensely cruel and overly insecure about her social standing.

Duff’s appearance on Community likely outshone the appearance of Matt Walsh, which is a darned shame. Walsh -- whose work you might recognize from small roles in Role Models, The Hangover or Old School -- was able to deliver ludicrous lines of dialogue with deadpan delivery, and completely anchored the subplot of the episode.

When Troy and Jeff are playing basketball, the pair discovers a trampoline tucked away in a secret garden, protected by a peaceful maintenance worker named Joshua (Walsh). While bouncing on this trampoline, both Jeff and Troy find inner peace as they continually hear “the world’s whisper” – a moment of tranquility experienced at the apex of every bounce.

Joshua tells Jeff and Troy that with the trampoline comes two rules: keep the trampoline secret, and never double bounce (two people at one time). They leave the secret garden, and take their tranquil attitude with them. The two no longer fight or compete, but live in harmony and enjoy one another's company.

This behavior is noticed instantaneously by Pierce, who is already miffed for feeling left out of the guys’ secret getaways. Pierce, with the help of a remote-controlled dragonfly, is able to discover their hidden lair, and demands that Troy double bounces him. Troy very reluctantly does so, and accidentally sends Pierce flying out of the garden and into an adjacent dumpster. Pierce spills the beans to everyone about the trampoline (which isn’t allowed on school property), resulting in its dismantling and Joshua’s termination.

This isn’t so bad, as it turns out Joshua is a swastika-tattoo-sporting racist. Joshua blames Troy for letting the word get out, saying that ”non-whites ruin everything.” A disillusioned Jeff and Troy begin to question the merits of their paradise, and whether or not purity can be achieved. Pierce (inadvertently) reminds them that true peace comes from within, and the pair leaves to go get ice cream.

All in all, it was a fine episode of Community. Sure, I didn’t get all the references, and I couldn’t jot down Abed’s zingers quick enough, but it’s still a great show that more people should really be watching.

Now let’s all bring it in for a boob bump! No? We’ll get there.

Extra Credit:

- Speaking of cinema reference ignorance, I have no idea what the secret garden/trampoline was in reference to, but the whole sequence looked awesome. Bright colors and ample use of bloom helped to create a dream-like atmosphere, and the slow-mo jumps (especially Pierce’s wayward leap) were awfully entertaining to watch.

- The Quote of the Week this week was tough to nail down. I’d have to go back and watch it again to be completely confident in my decision, especially with so much comedic gold coming from Abed. In particular, I loved his burn on Duff’s uneven bra padding, saying she looked like she was smuggling both a lime and a coconut. But my QotW this week goes once more to Troy. After Troy and Jeff are discovered in the garden by Joshua, Joshua asks if anyone saw the pair come in. Troy, with wide eyes and a straight face, asks, “If we say ‘nobody’, are you going to stab us with your bush scissors?” It’s another instance where the delivery is better than the dialogue – something Troy brings to the table every week.

- Some other great quotes:

Abed: “On Wednesdays, I sometimes eat in Jeff’s car. Don’t tell him.”

Pierce: “Tell me how you get this laid back, or I’ll kill your families!”

Troy: “Are those as comfortable as they look?”

Jeff: “They’re like wearing a pair of dreams. But your shoes look fine too.”

Troy: “You know what? They are.”

- As nice as it was to see the “Troy and Abed in the Morning” skit make a return, it didn’t work for me as well this time around. Mostly because nobody likes Star Burns.