Saturday, October 24, 2009

Community 1.06: "Football, Feminism, and You"

“That dude looks like Moby!”


Overall, I wasn’t especially impressed with Thursday’s episode of Community. NBC for some incomprehensible reason has aired the last few episodes out of order, and with “Football, Feminism, and You,” the fact that it was out of order was painfully obvious. There were huge steps back in character development and certain events that just didn’t make sense given what has happened in the last two episodes. Perhaps NBC was wary of having such a weak episode too close to the also weak (compared to later episodes) Pilot and second episode and figured showing a few much stronger episodes first would encourage viewers to overlook this one.

The major plot this week once again (just like last week) focused on the Dean wanting to increase Greendale’s credibility. This time, he wants to do it by changing the school mascot, and, more importantly, by getting Troy on the football team. Annie is not pleased by this development. She’s been feeding her high school crush on Troy by helping him study for the classes they have together, like Astronomy. She doesn’t think football is good for Troy, because if he goes back to football, he might forget about classes (and her). Lucky for Annie, Troy doesn’t want to play, either. He went out on top with high school football, and he wants to keep it that way.

Pierce, of course, volunteers to help with the mascot, which is probably the smallest plot of this episode. The whole thing is trying to skewer being uber-politically correct. The Dean has changed the mascot to the “Greendale Human Beings,” because he thinks the students are treated like animals often enough outside school. Pierce’s first attempt at a mascot design is himself in DaVinci’s Vetruvian Man pose. Throughout the rest of the episode, Pierce and the Dean struggle to make a “Human Being” without any ethnically identifiable features.

After Troy’s initial refusal, the Dean takes his football recruitment effort the next level. When Jeff is mortified to see that his face is being used on a Greendale promotional poster, the Dean tells him that not only will he continue to use the poster, but he will also send out mailers to legal employers with Jeff’s picture if Jeff does not somehow convince Troy to join the team. Jeff takes the bait. He drags Troy out to the football field and gives him one of his trademark inspirational speeches, and next thing you know, Troy is a member of the football team.

Meanwhile, Britta is trying to learn the etiquette of group trips to the ladies’ room. I was first made aware of this phenomenon about ten years ago at a Don Pablo’s in the Austin, Texas metro area, and it is indeed a stereotype that is mostly true. During a study session, Shirley wants Britta to go to the bathroom with her, but Britta turns her down. Britta is informed by the rest of the study group that this is not normal and Shirley was probably offended by the rejection.

Britta tries to redeem herself in class by asking Shirley to the bathroom while their professor is on the phone. Britta’s conversation style isn’t appropriate for the ladies’ room, however. She is abrasive, not sympathetic, and she doesn’t want to gossip with Shirley. She also goes on an anti-make-up rant. Shirley doesn’t make the mistake of asking Britta to the ladies’ room again. She asks Annie instead.

Now Britta is the one who is upset. So upset, in fact, that she starts crying in the student union as she explains to Shirley that she has “always peed alone.” Shirley uses it as a sort of teaching moment and gets Britta to take that emotion to the ladies’ room. I kind of like that we’re continuing to see Britta’s flaws in this episode. She’s not the perfect, cool, socially conscious woman she seemed to be in the pilot.

While Britta is becoming more three-dimensional, Troy is becoming more of an ass. Since he joined the football team, he’s trying to recapture all of his former glory. He enters the cafeteria saying obnoxious things like “Troy, Troy the Wonder Boy” and chanting odd Conservative cheers. Annie is waiting for him because they were supposed to study Astronomy, but Troy blows her off after barely saying two sentences to her. He does, however, reveal that Jeff is the person who convinced him to join the football team. Annie is, understandably, upset.

Annie confronts Jeff about leading Troy down what Annie considers to be a bad path. Annie says Jeff is selfish and a bad friend. Jeff, being Jeff, however, doesn’t just lie down and take an insult, even if it is deserved. He says Annie should tell Troy she’s in love with him. And she’s a stalker. Which is probably true

The football plot finally converges with the Britta-and-the-ladies’-room plot. Because Annie is upset, she asks Shirley to go to the ladies' room with her. Seeing an opportunity for Britta to grow, Shirley sends Britta instead. Britta actually does a good job comforting Annie. She tells Annie that Troy failed Annie’s standards, not the other way around. Shirley peeks into the room, sees that Annie is feeling better, and bursts through the door, overjoyed and giving out hugs…to Britta.

The episode ends with the pep rally. Jeff, feeling guilty after his conversation with Annie, finds Troy and tells him football is a bad idea. It turns out Troy, like Britta in last week’s episode, is a master of self-sabotage. He got injured on purpose in high school. There was a football scout coming, and it was too much pressure. Troy wants to play football at Greendale because he can just have fun with it. Troy tells Jeff, “You should try accepting where you’re at.” Jeff ponders that as Annie enters the auditorium lobby with a sign saying “Deploy Troy” and announces that she’s going to support Troy’s football ambitions. The new Greendale Human Beings mascot enters the lobby as well. And s/he is hella creepy. The less said about that the better.

1 comment:

  1. I know you were freaked by the mascot but I just have to say it was like a Power Ranger putty on speed...or crack...or something. And I agree, not one of the stronger episodes.