Community Watch: Anthropology 101

He’s snarky. He’s sexy. He’s got a haughty attitude, a lot of heart, and even more hair gel. He’s Jeff Winger, and he and his study group are back in the NBC hit comedy Community. And I couldn’t possibly be happier.

Fans flock to Community for many reasons, and the writers of the show really seem to understand just what those reasons are. I say that because just about everything I personally like about the show was condensed and crammed into a rib-cracking, laugh inducing season premiere.

When the study group reconvenes for the first time since the new semester, ready to tackle their new communal class of Anthropology, they are not joined by Britta (at first), who is still embarrassed from her public display of affection for Jeff during the season one finale. Jeff, in typical Winger fashion, wastes no time making a tool of himself, and doesn’t feel any sympathy for Britta’s plight. Britta, however, suddenly finds she has become the plucky underdog hero of Greendale Community College because of her bravery to showcase her feelings in such a public spectacle.

The best part of the Jeff/Britta drama this episode was the genesis of a “loving” relationship neither wanted the slightest part of. This started when Jeff, finding his social standing in jeopardy, decides to one-up Britta by declaring his love right back to her. Britta, not wanting to be out-done, accepts his advances, and thus begins their relationship of furious kissing and reluctant hand-holding.

Meanwhile, we find out that Annie still has a crush on Jeff ever since their stolen kiss at the end of last season. Jeff is adamant (and kind of a jerk) in his insistence that Annie remain discreet about their romantic rendezvous, and Annie agrees… though it’s painfully obvious she’s still holding a candle for him. As such, Annie is heartbroken when she sees Jeff and Britta engaged in their fake relationship.

This naturally devolves quickly and results in a shit-storm of epic proportions, bringing the foundation of the group down with it. Britta and Jeff’s eventual fight brings out a confession from Annie, which nets Jeff a well-deserved sock to the nose. Jeff, wanting the hot seat to be shifted off him, tells Pierce that Troy has been sharing Pierce’s ignorant remarks to the world with the Old White Man Says Twitter feed. Everyone becomes angry with everyone else. Even Abed becomes upset with Jeff, saying that TV is most unlike life Greendale because TV shows have a likeable leading man. Jeff does not fit that bill.

It looks like sad times are ahead. But things are patched up after Jeff makes a rousing feel-good speech in the middle of Anthropology class about the merits of respect.

Prof. June Bauer, played by the timeless Betty White in one of the best Community guest-starring roles, takes exception to Jeff’s speech (which was supposed to be an answer about mankind’s most important tool). She opts to show the class her version of mankind’s most important tool… a spear-shooting, hammer-throwing noose! She tells Jeff that she’ll use her tool against him, and he should defend himself with respect as best as he can. As he’s being strangled, Jeff cries out: “I respect you!” “That’s why you fail,” she answers. Advantage: Bauer. That tool is pretty damned effective.

Prof. Bauer was suspended for her unorthodox teaching methods in this lesson – which is unfortunate, as I’d have loved to see Betty White stick around for a few more episodes. Goodbye, Betty. We hope to see you back before the season is out.

This wraps things up pretty nicely for the study group. The group forgives Jeff for acting like a tool. Troy apologizes to Pierce for the Old White Man Says Twitter feed, but Pierce decides to keep the feed going after he learns he has 600,000 followers (and yes, it exists, and it’s hilarious… though it only has around 10,000 followers as of this article’s writing). Annie also drops her infatuation with Jeff after he reveals what a gross pig he is. The study group has once again reached a point of homeostasis.

And best of all, it looks like everyone’s favorite ex-Spanish-professor-turned-Anthropology-student Sr. Chang will be joining the group! As the episode draws to a close, we see Sr. Chang undergo an internal battle (in a hilarious, Gollum-inspired scene), pitting his admiration of the group against his anger of having lost his job due to the very same group. Will we see Chang turn over a new leaf? Or will he need to be cast in the fires of Mt. Doom? It’s anyone’s guess at this point.

What a great way to start off the new season. Community remains one of my favorite shows on television, and there are no signs that the laughs are slowing down in the slightest.

Extra Credit

- A couple of references were made to Donald Glover’s (regrettably failed) campaign to be cast as Spider-Man on Twitter this summer. In the opening sequence, we see Troy sporting a Spider-Man tee-shirt. A couple minutes later, Pierce is talking about how he and Troy are like Batman and Shaft. When Troy points out Batman had a partner, Pierce retorts that Troy shouldn’t let society limit the aspirations of his race. A few website commenters could stand to learn from that.

- Speaking of Troy, he wins my award for Quote of the Week. When Troy is called out for believing that all dogs are male, and all cats are female, he comes back with: “There’s no way to disprove that. Have you ever seen a cat penis?” I know I haven’t. He’s onto something.

- Abed was at his most self-referential this week, constantly commenting on the state of the study group like the state of a popular TV show. This reaches its zenith when Shirley asks him, “Is this you being ‘meta’?” If the show gets any more “meta”, we may be entering several Inception-like levels of self-referential humor. Brace yourselves… we’ve got to go deeper.

- Near the end of the show, Pierce wonders aloud whether or not Old White Man Says could work as a TV show. It is shot down by a unanimous vote. CBS should probably seek out a dermatologist for some ointment, because they just got hit with an epic burn.