Sunday, December 6, 2009

Community 1.11: "The Politics of Human Sexuality"

“Don’t gloat. It’s impossible to guard you. You’re eyes are too gentle and mysterious.”


This week’s episode of “Community” wasn’t one of my favorites, but it was an entertaining enough way to spend half an hour. I’ve noticed that the various plot lines in an episode of “Community” aren’t always tied together thematically, but instead by one particular event. This episode would be an example of that. Two of the plots deal with sexuality and growing up, and the third does not, but still figures into the end of the episode anyway, even if the thread is kind of tenuous.

It’s STD awareness week at Greendale, and the main event is the “Catch Knowledge!” party, organized by Annie of course. She’s her usually gung-ho self until the Dean says that as a reward for her hard work, she gets to give the demonstration on how to use a condom. He’s got an anatomically correct dummy for her to use and everything. Annie tries to keep her cool, but when she meets up with the other study group ladies, she starts to freak out. She’s never seen, let alone put a condom on, an actual penis before, and being the super-perfectionist that she is, Annie is petrified of making a mistake during the demonstration. The ladies concoct a plan to break into the Dean’s office so Annie can practice on the dummy before the presentation.

Meanwhile, Pierce has found himself a date to the STD fair (yeah, like that’s not creepy), and he wants to make sure the rest of the study group know about it and marvel at how amazing Pierce is. Pierce’s date is an escort, but Pierce is clear that he’s not paying her. He is especially enjoying taunting Jeff about this, as Jeff has admittedly been in the middle of a bit of a dry spell. Pierce challenges Jeff to find his own date to the STD fair, and Jeff accepts. Jeff finds himself pouring through the contacts in his cell phone, having a tough time finding any woman that will speak to him. This is how Britta finds him, and she gives Jeff a lecture on seeing women as people. I have to side with Britta here, considering Jeff didn’t actually have women’s names in his phone- just descriptions. Britta, for instance, was “Hot Blond Spanish Class.”

At the STD fair, Jeff manages to pretty easily convince the Dean’s new administrative assistant to be his date, and he’s feeling like he’s back in the game. She’s very vapid, and at first Jeff doesn’t mind. Pierce’s date is much more interesting, though, and has all sort of crazy stories to tell. While Pierce is getting drinks, she tells Jeff that men of a certain age start to appreciate women with more substance. Jeff acts like he doesn’t agree, but you can tell the wheels are starting to turn. Pierce comes back to the group and acts like a complete jerk, spilling one of the drinks and giving the empty cup to his date. She tells Pierce if he wants to continue the date, he can pay.

Jeff is having better luck with his night. Probably because he acted more like a gentleman that Pierce. Given that Jeff is always arrogant and thinks of himself first, that really doesn’t speak well for Pierce. At all. If I met someone like Pierce in real life, I think I’d run screaming in the other direction. He’s just that awful. While making out in his car with the administrative assistant, however, Jeff comes to the disturbing realization that it’s not enough. He does actually want more substance. He apologizes to the administrative assistant and goes back to the STD fair, where he sees a despondent Pierce. Pierce, actually dispensing wisdom for once, tells Jeff he’s growing up. Jeff gives Pierce money to buy his date for the rest of the night.

Sort of predictably, the study group ladies get caught by a campus security guard when they try to break into the Dean’s office. Annie at least gets a look at the mannequin through the key hole before the security guard stops them, though. Getting caught results in a meeting in the Dean’s office that is rather uncomfortable for some of the people involved, namely the Dean and Annie. To ensure that no harassment takes place, the Dean has the school counselor and a stenographer present. The counselor wants everybody to say “penis” to take away the word’s power, and everybody does so but Annie. When the counselor wants to inquire further, Annie, finally gaining confidence, stands up for her prudishness. She makes a rather good point. If everybody was repressed like she is, there would be no reason for an STD fair!

My favorite of the three plots, even though it lacks substance, is the humorous Abed and Troy C story. Troy has made the unsettling discovery that Abed is a better athlete. No matter what sport or contest Troy comes up with, Abed wins. Finally, Troy challenges Abed to a footrace, and Troy finally wins. Troy is reveling in his win when the Dean asks for his help. Apparently the condoms they’ve been giving out at the STD fair are defective. Because the Dean believes Troy is the best athlete in the school, he wants Troy to run as fast as he can to the office and make a campus announcement before people leave the fair. The “urgency” of the situation cuts through Troy’s ego, and he realizes that Abed let him win the footrace. Acknowledging that Abed is the best athlete in the school, Troy tells Abed to make the announcement. Abed does, to hilarious effect of course. Instead of specifying that the STD fair condoms are defective, Abed just says “don’t use condoms.” Oops.

I think that the Troy and Abed plot was my favorite just because the two actors play so well off one another. They’ve gone from annoying to endearing. Their dialogue can be over-the-top sitcommy- an example from this episode would be Troy’s speech about how Abed is a good friend for throwing the race- but they’re just so much fun that I don’t care. I also really liked the final moment of the episode. Jeff is going through his phone again, and this time he changes “Hot Blond Spanish Class” to “Britta.” Some people might lament the fact that it looks like our usual snarky Jeff is growing up and seeing a woman as a person, but I always applaud character growth. I’d like to see a little more about why Britta in particular inspires such change in Jeff, but I’m still glad to see the change nonetheless.

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