Community Watch: Early 21st Century Romanticism

Every week in TV land, characters always have miniature arcs in which they learn something new and we like to think they grow a little bit as people. This is garbage. Characters don’t actually grow, because if they did, the TV show’s dynamic might change. We don’t like this, because things that change are scary, and having to learn new things is lame. That’s just science, people.

But this week, Jeff Winger might have actually done it. After two-score episodes of Community, despite so many squandered opportunities to do so in the past, Jeff has finally opened up his heart and let the love pour out. Which is good, since it was on his list.

You see, because Jeff was able to accept the love of others, and love them in return, he has fulfilled his basic human desires of love and belonging, as outlined in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and as poorly remembered by me from some bullshit GE elective I took four years ago. And since Jeff already has oodles of self-esteem, this could be a turning point in the show in which we see Jeff really grow into himself as a person.

…or, since he expressed these feelings over a late-night text, he can always blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. And then the Etch-a-Sketch of Jeff’s character growth will shake once more.

Jeff came to this realization after a heart-to-heart with Prof. Duncan. Duncan admits to Jeff that he is envious of Jeff’s relationship with the study group, mostly because Duncan is a lonely guy. Sure, you might think Duncan’s a pussy for being so open with his feelings, but he’s from England… where everything means vagina. (Worst setup ever). Jeff, after realizing that he misses being at the center of the group’s drama, makes the candid group text message. He admits he loves the group, and needs them too.

We learn about the needs of the other groupies as well. Britta, for example, needs attention. A lot of it. Early in the episode, Britta befriends Page -- one of her lesbian classmates -- so everyone would see how she was progressive and open-minded. She also takes pleasure in chiding Annie for being a homophobe when Annie is unsure how once acts around a lesbian. After all, you can’t be a hipster unless you can find new and interesting ways to lord your superiority over people.

As it turns out, Britta and Page were more alike than either had figured; neither was gay, but was hanging out with the other for Cool Points. Both sensationalize every turn of the head in their direction and cherish their perceived increase in attention. This escalates into a tight-lipped kissing display on the Valentine’s Day Dance floor in which both Britta’s and Page’s eyes dart across the room to see how many stares they’re getting. They accidently admit to each other that they aren’t lesbian, and both accuse the other of being shallow.

Meanwhile, Troy and Abed are also seeking attention, but of one person in particular: the hottie librarian. The gatekeeper of knowledge in Greendale… holder of such information as “Will you marry me?” and “Why are there still libraries?” Both get a glimpse of her at the same time, fall in love at first sight, and have intentions of asking her to the aforementioned Dance. However, not wanting to risk their friendship, they agree to ask her together to the dance, and to let her decide who she likes. Overcome by the cuteness of the situation (though not swayed by their generous offer of Briefcase Tacos), she agrees.

The librarian eventually chooses Troy over Abed, who seems a bit put-out but is happy for his friend. Once Abed leaves, the librarian (damn it, does she have a name?) tells Troy that she thinks Abed is weird. That was all Troy needed to hear; date: over. Troy and Abed embrace in the hallway as they console each other, promising that one day they’ll find the girl for them. No plural there. I wonder how that would work.

Lastly, it looks like what Chang and Pierce both need is help. Chang is homeless, having been cast out by his wife. He stealthily tries to move into Winger’s home under the rouse of a party, but this backfires and Jeff kicks him out. But then Jeff feels sorry for him, and Chang is allowed to crash there for the night (and perhaps more!). Can’t wait to see a Jeff-and-Chang roomie storyline next week.

Things aren’t looking as good for Pierce, though. This week, we learn why he’s been such a jerk this season: every time he pops enough pain pills, he sees a miniature helicopter pilot version of Andy Dick. For me, that’d be enough incentive to never take pain pills again, but Pierce slips into dependency. He starts tripping balls, lashes out at Annie at the dance, and the show ends with a shot of him passed out alone on a park bench. Poor Pierce. He’s now dropped from “malevolent villain” back down to “sympathetic curmudgeon”.

...and that is my analysis of the Community TV series! Yeah, I went on, but there are 40 episodes, and they’re 21 minutes apiece…

Extra Credit

This week’s Quote of the Week is… “Oh, ok. They're BNL now. We need a SHORTHAND for the Bare Naked Ladies! That’s how fundamental they are!” That was Jeff, sarcastically belittling the accomplishments of the most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid-90’s.

Other good lines:

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

“If doctors are so smart, why are there millions of them?”