Can I take a minute to say how happy I am that Community is back on my television every week? Because I am so happy that Community is back on my television every week. The show is both as delightful and silly as it’s ever been, but the characters are changing and growing while still remaining funny – a feat that can be very hard for sitcoms to pull off.
First, a note on the silliness: I don’t know how the writers and cast do this, but they up the silliness every week. I thought I had seen it all when Abed played Brown Jamie Lee Curtis and Troy and Britta played the two versions of Michael Jackson in “Celebrity Impressionists,” but two episodes later, the show was giving me a Ken Burns-style documentary episode in “Pillows and Blankets,” one of the most inspired silly episodes they’ve ever done.
As for the character dynamics, I’m noticing interesting changes in the group members as individuals, and also in the way they relate to each other.
After wishing for months that the writers would find something interesting to do with Shirley, they’ve gotten her marriage back together, put her on an entrepreneurial path, and seem to have cemented her role as Jeff’s best friend in the group. I was thrilled to see them spending more time together at the carnival after they bonded, then fought, then bonded again in “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism.” At the same time, the writers haven’t forgotten to make her funny – the reveal that her high-pitched little-girl voice is the “sexy voice” she uses with her husband was perfect, and unexpected, and a little gross, and hilarious.
Jeff, meanwhile, is taking a more active role than ever in trying to become a better person and a better friend. Some of this seems motivated by wanting Annie to like him, but he’s more sincere than ever. In “Pillows and Blankets,” he went all the way back to the Dean’s office to actually find the imaginary friendship hats he made for Troy and Abed, instead of walking around the corner and waiting for a few minutes to make it seem like he left. He really cares about these people – but his ego is still big enough that he wants the documentary filmmakers and audience to be impressed that he’s writing in a journal now.
Troy and Abed’s friendship took a major hit in the battle between Pillowtown and Blanketsburg. I won’t lie; I almost cried (while still laughing) after Troy read the email that Abed wrote about him, and when Troy sent an angry text back to Abed saying that no one else will ever have enough patience to be his friend. By the end of the episode, their friendship was back on track, but I sensed that a dynamic had shifted, and the next episode proved me right, when Vice Dean Laybourne was back to threaten the Dean to recruit Troy to the Air Conditioning Repair School. I think Troy and Abed will always be best friends and always love each other, but their friendship can’t stay exactly the same as it’s always been – and it shouldn’t. I’m interested to see how their friendship will adapt now that Troy has a potential future career and love interest (more on that in a bit) and Abed still seems content to watch TV and be in the Deamatorium all day. I’m not worried that their friendship will be damaged – but it’s going to change. It has to.
Pierce continues to be a little pathetic but less filled with rage than he did last season, and in some ways he seems to be maturing. In the latest episode his part with Chang was obviously filler, though, and I don’t know how much of this has to do with the Chevy Chase/Dan Harmon real-life feud. (I’m not going to comment on that in length, because reporting that creative people have on-set differences is like reporting that politicians lie. I lean towards Team Harmon because I think Dan Harmon is primarily interested in writing and producing the best show he can and Chevy Chase is primarily interested in Chevy Chase, but they’re both acting like children. Moving on!)
Annie – well, I’m still not sure she has an arc yet. Right now she’s acting as a supporting player in most of the other characters’ storylines and doesn’t seem to have a path of her own. Again, I hope that changes.
Dean and Chang are being used the way they should be: sparingly, with more Dean and less Chang.
Then there’s Britta, and last night’s “Origins of Vampire Mythology” took another step in the right direction with her character, curing her (potentially forever) of her need to seek approval and affection from men who aren’t interested in her. It was one of her more annoying and cliched character traits and I’m glad she seems to have moved on from that.
And, AND, it’s now officially canon that Troy likes Britta, and now she knows, and seems pleased and is on the verge of liking him back, if she doesn’t feel that way already.
Can I talk about how I feel about that? Because I don’t know how I feel about that! I’ve liked the Troy/Britta dynamic since season one’s “Interpretive Dance,” and they seem to have more in common now than they did even back then. At the same time, I can’t imagine what a relationship between them would look like. I feel like she would annoy him if they were alone together for longer than ten minutes, but I also feel like he would really miss her if she left. That could be really amusing to watch.
They do have a lot in common, after all. They both like dancing. They were both Michael Jackson. They’ve called each other “the opposite of Batman.” They both mispronounce words but still use them in the proper context (“Edible” for “Oedipal,” “All tomato” for “ultimatum.”) They could be the best couple ever! Or they could be a disaster.
Imagine if they got together at the same time that Jeff and Annie finally do the same thing. What would happen then?
I’m always wary when sitcoms try too hard to pair people off and focus on romance over friendships and wacky happenstance, but this is a show that could make it work. As always, I can’t wait to see what comes next.