Sunday, November 8, 2009

Community 1.08: "Home Economics"

“Damn I picked the wrong couple to follow out of class this morning. Jeff and Britta are dead air.”


There really was no theme to tie together the various plots on this week’s episode of community. It was more one walk from Spanish class spawning a few different story threads. There was some interesting character development and different character pairings happening, though, so overall, I liked the episode. We got to see a different, kinda nerdy, side of Jeff, the inner sanctum of the world of Abed, Pierce find yet another way to recapture his youth, and Britta actually help others instead of just talking about it.

The episode opens in Spanish class, and something is seriously up with Jeff. He’s sound asleep, and it’s blatantly obvious to everyone. His, hair, usually carefully coiffed bedhead, is actually bedhead messy. Señor Chang, of course, makes a big show of waking Jeff up. I really wish there was less of Señor Chang and more of some of the other professors like John Oliver’s Professor Duncan. Chang is just way too over the top to be funny. Most of his craziness is just uncomfortable.

Annie and Troy walk from class together, and Troy starts to ask Annie what she thinks about dating classmates. Annie gleefully thinks Troy wants to ask her out, but Troy actually has his eye on another girl in their Spanish class. Annie is upset, but she tries to give Troy advice anyway. Meanwhile, Shirley and Britta decide to follow Jeff to figure out what’s up with him. They are surprised to see that Jeff is now living in his car. That explains the fatigue and bad hair. It turns out that since he lost his license to practice law, Jeff has been behind on his condo association dues. His condo is now for sale. He shares pictures of it that he found on the Realtor’s site with Britta and reminisces over the expensive bathroom fixtures.

Britta is temporarily distracted from pontificating about how fulfilling a life with few material possessions can be thanks to Vaughn, her hippie-ish musician ex-boyfriend. Britta is troubled by the fact that Vaughn is so upset about their break-up, and Pierce offers to talk to Vaughn about it. Pierce, being stuck in his own world (which I suppose is something you could say about most, if not all, the characters on Community), does indeed talk to Vaughn despite Britta repeatedly asking him not to. Vaughn offers Pierce a spot in his band playing keyboard.

In an effort to regain her right to be holier-than-thou, Britta decides she’ll show some support for Vaught by going to his concert. It turns out that Vaughn and Pierce co-wrote a song about how Britta is a horrible person. Pierce’s part in all of it is revealed later when he and Vaughn get into an argument over Vaughn wanting to take all the credit. The argument results in Pierce (thankfully) leaving the band. Luckily for Britta, the experience inspires Vaughn to write another song almost identical to the one he wrote about her entitled “Pierce is a B.”

In an effort to get his life somewhat back together, Jeff takes his friends’ advice and moves in wiath Abed, who lives in the dorms. I had no idea that community colleges even had dorms. I know my county community college back home in PA certainly didn’t when I went there for summer gifted programs and orchestra rehearsals. This can be easily overlooked though, as College!Jeff is absolutely hilarious. He wholeheartedly embraces Abed’s way of life, spending his days watching reruns of 80’s tv shows and eating nothing but sweet cereal (it’s cheap, doncha know?). This change is disturbing to all of Jeff’s friends, and Shirley convinces Britta to do something about it.

Britta ends up stealing the fancy bathroom sink faucet from Jeff’s old condo. She tells him to install it in a new, cheaper apartment as a reminder of the life he once had and can attain again. It can’t be all sunshine, though. Britta makes it clear that a life of materialism is only ideal for certain, especially shallow, people. Can you tell Britta gets on my nerves a touch? Especially after the incident where we learned she hasn’t done much actual protesting, or the episode where we learn she’s a master self-saboteur, how is she still on a high horse? It doesn’t make sense. The inconsistent characterization (partially, but not entirely, caused by NBC airing pretty much every episode from 3-6 out of order) is what’s really keeping me from embracing Community like I have other sitcoms such as HIMYM and The Big Bang Theory.

I found the Annie/Troy situation about as unfunny as I found College!Jeff funny. Maybe because it was a little too true to life in a negative way (as opposed to true to life about something that evokes nostalgia), and that made me kind of uncomfortable. I felt awful for Annie as she went to increasingly greater and greater lengths to help Troy prepare his date, to the point where she even let Troy borrow her grandmother’s blanket. Shirley keeps trying to encourage Annie to tell Troy how she feels, but Annie just can’t muster up the courage. She tries other tactics instead, such as faking that she has appendicitis so Troy will take her to the health center instead of going on his date.

She can’t delay the date forever, though, and the most assertiveness she’s able to muster is to ask Troy and his date for her blanket back. This was a huge step for Annie, and the one thing I thought was nice about this plot was that Shirley acknowledged it was a huge step instead of chiding Annie for not going after her man. Annie needs to find someone who appreciates her for who she is so she can stop obsessing over Troy, who clearly isn’t worth her time. That is, however, much, much easier said than done. Bah! Now I’ve gone and made myself all sad! Over a sitcom! Clearly I need a life.

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