Follow Monsters of Television on Twitter

Wednesday, 26 of February of 2020

Community – “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts”

I’m one of the Steppenwolf Wives!”

Community Title CardI’m not going to get into a big navel gazing post about Community‘s role in the television landscape, what it means, what we’ll lose, how I’ve missed it. There’ll be some links at the end that tackle those issues.

Instead, let’s just talk about how nice this episode is. Because it is nice. It’s the kind of episode that I tend to enjoy more than the high-concept ones, one with a well-constructed core and a nice build to a great ending.

 After Shirley was kind of battered around the series last year, and only the briefest of mentions of her kids earlier this season, I was happy to have Shirley back in a big way in this episode. Yvette Nicole Brown’s ability to turn on a dime, from (very) funny to serious to hitting believable character beats in this episode — I love her reactions to both the proposals and Andre’s desire to fall back how things were before the first ending of their marriage — demonstrate why the show should really use her more.

In terms of emotions, however, I was genuinely concerned for Shirley when Andre went all “Woman!” on her. Shirley has been through a lot, and I want this marriage to work for her, and I genuinely like Andre (being Malcolm-Jamal Warner helps), so his sudden reversal startled me. And while I’ve wanted to show to push darker in the past, particularly during Chang and fatherhood stuff, I was happy the show gave us a sitcom ending with the two getting together, resolving their conflict.

This isn’t without its quibbles. Shirley’s plot was largely a way to make things about Jeff, Britta, and Pierce, but at least these connected subplots were still pretty funny. Pierce’s desire to cling to his business-self is a nice bit of humanity that the character has been missing, and I like that the episode plays to Chevy Chase’s strengths of bumbling physical comedy with both the money out of his pockets and then the ice cream machine at during the episode tag. They’re small, but well-conceived bits.

Meanwhile, Britta and Jeff facing off against their troubles with marriage didn’t tell us anything new about them, but since it provided such a nice chain of Britta bits, I’m not going to complain too much. But I do feel like they need to start pushing Britta to a new level on this point, at least just a little. She’s become such an ardent feminist that being good at anything remotely feminine is causing her to freak out, and while I’m not exactly comfortable with this parody of feminism (it is pretty reductive), it is funny. The show has been good at allowing her to learn to tone herself down (thinking about season 1 and talking in the women’s bathroom here), so I hope that comes back soon.

All in all though, it’s a good return for Community. I think what I’m most interested in is that this half of the season was produced in a vacuum for this show, with the reaction from fans and critics, and I’m curious about whether this emboldened the show or they decided to reel themselves in a bit. I suspect it’ll be both, depending on the episode.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Troy and Abed’s forced normalcy was fine, but nothing great. I think my favorite bit was Andre thinking they were being jerks. Maybe because in their heads, normal people are pretty jerky.
  • “If the good lord wanted you to have a penny, you’d have a penny.”
  • “Wireless racism. The future of our past is now.”
  • THEO IS SINGING. AND DANCING. THEO IS SINGING AND DANCING!
  • Annie’s wedding book is HUGE. Poor thing. I hope she never discovers Pinterest.
  • “She’s just pro-anti.”
  • “Will someone please call all the ambulances?”
  • “Fine, we went to both to public schools.”
  • “She’s suburban black.”
  • “Color me lavender.”
  • “There are so many levels to this.” “It’s almost too conceptual to understand, but I love it.”
  • “Pick a number! Like it’s up to me!” Timely.
  • Subway, huh? Subway trying to save another low-rated NBC show, huh?
  • A few of links for you, as promised. There’s this generally ridiculous GQ piece that critiques Community for being  too obsessed with its fans and the Internet; there’s Alyssa Rosenberg’s considerably smarter reply (I want to marry the last sentence of her second paragraph); Slate discusses why they think the show doesn’t know what to do with Britta; and finally there’s this terrific exchange at the TV Club between Steven Hyden and Todd VanDerWerff debating the show’s merits.

Leave a comment