Episode 113: Investigative Journalism

"I'm not even wearing a bra!"
 
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113 Review

I chose to write the review of “Investigative Journalism” because, in my mind, this was the most important early episode in determining what the future of Community would be like (also I wanted an excuse to watch that scene where Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs fall into the pool of bubbles a few more times). Others may argue that “Intro to Statistics” is where Community really hit its stride, or that “Debate 109” is the best early episode, but regardless of whether “Investigative Journalism" makes your top ten or even your top thirty once the series is over, I believe that it paved the way for the show to become what it is today.

The plot of the episode is simple enough; Buddy, played by Jack Black, tries to join the study group, and Jeff , the new editor of the Greendale Gazette Journal Mirror, is trying to be more relaxed. The group has to decide what their policy is on admitting new members, and Jeff has to come to terms with his role as “leader” of the group. Since we’ve all seen the episode I’m going to focus on the impact this episode had on Community as a series.

At this point the group had finished their first semester, and were coming back from winter break. The audience too was coming back from the show’s Christmas break, and the show had to make an important decision. A major plotline of the season so far had been Jeff slowly going from begrudgingly hanging out with the group because he wanted to bang Britta, to Jeff actually caring about these people. However, Jeff was falling in love with the group too fast (in the commentary Dan Harmon admitted that this had happened quicker than they had intended).

They had already rallied to beat up the school bully and win a debate against their rival. Jeff already cared about these people. Coming back from the break the show could have done one of two things: they could embrace the fact that Jeff already cared about these people, or they could behave like “Two and a Half Men” or “How I Met Your Mother” and hit a reset button. Jeff could go back to being snarky and uncaring, and they could stretch the “Jeff  really DOES love the group” story over the rest of the season. Luckily for us, they chose the first route. They committed to treating these characters’ relationships like those of actual human beings, and chose to keep the show moving forward instead of stagnant. It was at this point that I realized that “Community” really was different from any CBS sitcom. They were here to treat the audience with respect, instead of just drawing out a tired storyline for as long as they possibly could (coughcough “How I Met Your Mother” coughcough).

Another important long-term effect of this episode was that it introduced the idea that this group might not be as cool as we think they are. At the end of the episode Buddy leaves to join the “Cool group” populated by Owen Wilson, an Asian Girl, and Starburns. When we watch the show all we see is the group winning debates, beating up the school bully, and dealing with the obnoxious Spanish teacher. We naturally begin to think of the group as the “heroes” relegating everyone else at Greendale to “the background characters”. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, it’s what most shows do, but by suggesting that the group might just be a little narcissistic, and that their self-perception is different from the way they are perceived by the rest of the school, the show opens up its universe, suggesting that anyone in the school could be the protagonist. Maybe we’re just focused on the wrong people. Maybe Starburns is actually the protagonist. You begin to feel like there are probably 50 different shows, all focused on characters at Greendale. Obviously one of those shows follows  “The Cool Group”, one might follow the Dean and focus on what he does when he’s not with the study group (shudder), even Vaughan might be the star of his own show. By suggesting that the main characters aren’t the only ones leading full lives the show allows itself to start taking on the Simpsons-esque feel that it has perfected now, where there are a whole host of background characters (some who are better people than the main characters) that the show can bring in without the audience getting annoyed and wondering why we’re focusing on the tertiary, unimportant characters. It also allows for jokes down the line like Fat Neal and Vicki suggesting that the whole school enjoyed it when the group left for their St. Patrick’s Day rafting trip. All this began because Jack Black wanted to hang out with Owen Wilson instead of Jeff Winger.

The final important long-term decision this show made was that it was the first episode that really committed to the idea that Britta isn’t actually “The Cool One Who Serves As Jeff’s Moral Compass”, but is instead “The One Who Thinks She’s Cool, But Is Actually The Worst”. Specifically I’m thinking of the moment where Britta asks Jeff “What if I decide hanging out and cracking wise is my job?” and the whole group breaks out in hysterical laughter, and the moment where Pierce says “Britta, don’t be mad that I didn’t choose you (to distract Buddy) because your breasts are so old”. In the early part of season 1 Britta’s character was problematic. She was fairly one-dimensional, not particularly funny, and basically just existed to tell Jeff what to do (except for the episode where she dressed as a squirrel; that was awesome). When the show started treating her as a punching bag, she became hilarious. She went from being my least favorite character to my favorite. The deconstruction of Britta’s character is another example of how good this show is at adapting. “Britta’s not funny? Well Gillian Jacobs is hilarious at being awkward, let’s move towards that.” This is why I’m not at all worried about the show getting stale or worn out. Dan Harmon and these writers are so good at adjusting and tweaking the show to make it hilarious I feel like he would have no trouble keeping it going even after a fourth season where all the characters graduate.

Finally, his episode is wildly funny. Here are my favorite parts in no particular order:

  1. The group murmur. I love it when they group falls into a consenting drone with everyone talking over one another. Somehow that’s hilarious every time.
  2. The background gag of Chevy’s “ironic” t-shirts that stretches throughout the episode
  3. The continuation of the Dean’s dalmation fetish
  4. Shirley’s boring friend, Gary
  5. The cold open where Buddy interrupts the group’s natural…..rhythm. One of the best cold opens ever.
  6. Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie fell into a pool of bubbles while wearing cheerleader outfits. Explain to me again how this show gets such low ratings?
  7. "Yo, I need my genitals”
  8. “When I refer to you in my article would you prefer imbecile or incompetent?”  “Well, I’d prefer incompetent, but…”
  9. “My best friend when I was six years old was a black man”

22 LIKES

On the A. V. Club: http://www.avclub.com/articles/regional-holiday-music,66270/#comment-421816501 (page 70)

 

Discussion:

  • great review. I love this episode. I don't know why its so maligned

  • I think part of it had to do with Jack Black not having that much chemistry with the cast, although that was kind of the point.

  • Loki100

    On the subject of Shirley's friend Gary… I HOPE HE TRANSFERS TO HELL!

  • He grew up in a land without sun!

  • Shirley's deeply offended tone really sells that line.

  • Repeat this joke 100 times with shocking unoriginality and you've got Everybody Hates Jerry Gergich.

  • Nice job–good point about how this gives us perspective on our group maybe not being as cool as we think.  I also liked the sense the ending gave me that, regardless of who the cool kids are in this situation, everyone finds their fit.

    Not all that relevant, but rewatching this episode recently had the thought "How is Dean Pelton not a joke?"  He's funny, clearly, but they've managed to make the man who growls while trying on a Dalmatian outfit in this episode and  had a black man as a best friend when he was 6 a character I care about.  Also: "Racial profiling may not be right, but it can be economical!"

  • Great perspective on this episode. I've never looked at it in that defining a light, but you've really hit on something here. They really show it in the opening scene, when Jeff comes back acting like Pilot Jeff. "I hate this place, I'm only here because I'm hot for Britta" etc. Then, he turns it on a dime and shows how much he has come to care about everyone. Except Buddy, that is. 

  • Really good review. I feel like this episode is incredibly underrated.

  • Oh–in case anyone hasn't seen the commentaries, apparently Danny Pudi was sick as a dog during the martini scene.  Good job, Radar.

  • My old boss used to call me Radar. Cool story, I know. 

  • You just cool story bro'd yourself.

  • Great review! I never understood why so many people hated Jack Black here. I'm not the guy's biggest fan, but the episode hinges on his performance, and he's really quite good, with his organic lemon squares and simultaneously creepy and friendly demeanor. There's something slightly unhinged about Buddy which reminds me of Jack Black's performance as both a farmer and the Devil in Mr. Show's fantastic Joke: the Musical.

    EDIT: here's a link to Joke: the Musical, in case you're not familiar with it. Please stay for the Hated Milk Machine Song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

  • I totally agree about Jack Black. I'm not a big fan but he's alright here. I think he's just the right amount of annoying, where it's clear why he's annoying the study group but his presence doesn't totally annoy me. Plus, I think he has some genuinely funny moments. And really, as brownjamieleecurtis pretty much pointed out, this is really a Jeff episode and it's a fine one at that.

    I love this bit:
    First his little song – http://fishsticktheatre.com/TV…
    Annie's reaction – http://fishsticktheatre.com/TV…
    And then Jeff infamously saying that "Annie's kinda young – we try not to sexualize her." – http://fishsticktheatre.com/TV…

  • The effect is a lot like that of the kids in The Art of Discourse, although the kids are more annoying.

  • I just died at Buddy's expression in that fishstick. Good Lord.

  • Joke:The Musical is by far my favorite thing Jack Black's ever done, and one of the funniest comedy sketches I've ever seen. 

  • OccamsBlazer

    Something I noticed in this episode is much of the humor around Buddy is the closest to Community ever got to being like The Office (both the UK and US versions) in terms of basing much of the episode off cringe humor.
    The scene with Jeff dragging Buddy off the study table is as good with being funny and painful to watch as almost any scene of the American Office at its prime.

  • i.e. scene where Jeff drags Buddy out of the study room. Which also has superb Shirley and Annie reaction shots.

  • Buddy – a reevaluation

    I'd like to throw in my two cents, next to brownjamieleecurtis great analysis of Buddy – a character whom a lot of people seem to hate, for reasons that I never fully understood.

    On the commentary track it's mentioned that Buddy was initially supposed to be called Poochie, until some of the /*ahem*/ older writers stepped in. The younger writers had apparently never heard of The Simpsons episode featuring Poochie – the skateboarding, rastafied-by-10% dog who was once forced down Itchy and Scratchy's throats. It's an explanation I never fully bought and here's why: whether intentionally, or as some sort of weird Freudian slip, this is Community's Poochie episode.

    Buddy comes across as a character designed by execs and focus groups: he's loud, obnoxious, clownish, he sings, he dances goofily and has absolutely no personality. He's also played by a famous, highly recognizable actor. In a word, he's the type of character which would wildly successful on Community, if Community were a show on CBS. He's even introduced in the most half-assed way possible – he's always been there, you know, we just never saw him (loved the montage btw). This ties in very nicely with brownjamieleecurtis ' observation about having Jeff seemingly rebooting back to the jerk he was earlier on on the show. Combined with the very Saved By the Bell plot of having Jeff run the school newspaper, this is the closest Community's been to looking like a more traditional sitcom*.

    And Buddy is a fantastic deconstruction of a stale sitcom character – one that tries way too hard at being funny. That he's written as possibly psychotic is the cherry on the sundae; it's like an indirect acknowledgment that nobody can be so naturally cheery and goofy.

    Jack Black is really good in this – he pulls both Buddy's forced peppiness and vaguely threatening vibe effortlessly. I always thought that Jack Black was a really talented actor who at some point in his career decided to take the Adam Sandler route and not give a shit anymore. But he was very good, and very physical here – and his performance reminded me of the stuff he did on Mr. Show, and on Tenacious D, and even on Harmon's own deeply weird Heat Vision and Jack. In some ways Buddy is a pretty unselfconscious performance, because it requires Black to both recapture what made him good once, and draw on the shtick that makes him annoying today. It's what his performance in Tropic Thunder could have been like, if he had tried harder.

    Oh, and I just can't properly express just how much Buddy's "cool group" makes me laugh. I think it's the randomness of the combination: Owen Wilson, Starburns and some Harajuku girl.

    *On the Nerdist Writers' Panel podcast Harmon and McKenna make some cryptic but very interesting observations, about how Harmon had to wrestle other executive producers for control of the show early in S1, and how these guys wanted to give Community a more subdued tone, more in line with NBC's general style. McKenna came on around episode 10, after those guys and a bunch of writers left, and I can see how this episode (which was conceived before he came on, but must have been close to the disputes, and eventual shakedown of the show's producers) reflects this kind of struggle for Community's soul. Again, this further confirms' excellent analysis.

  • I don't really like using this term because it's abused so much, but Buddy really is a very "meta" character; he works as a statement on various things far more than he works within the show's universe. I can see where people might find that problematic.

  • OccamsBlazer

    Despite the gimmicky nature of Buddy as a guest star and the sit-commy elements of the newspaper plot, I love this episode because it continues the exploration of the Jeff-Abed dynamic, which is one of my favorite relationships of the whole series.

    Also, how could a comedy writer NOT have heard of the Poochie episode on the Simpsons? That is absurd.
    Sadly, I guess not everyone was raised in the Simpsons like I was.

  • everybody was raised on the simpsons, some people were just raised on the simpsons better than others

  • I've actually never seen an episode of The Simpsons in full.

  • i think i just spontaneously burst into tears

  • What!? But you're a living, breathing, human being with good taste. This does not compute. Get on that, like, right this very second. I'm unsure where to tell you to start but sample these episodes:
    S1 – "The Crepes of Wrath" (at this point the show was much more subdued, darker, and is even a somewhat realistic portrayal about the struggles of an eccentric lower middle class family. S1 is not at all representative of what the should would become, except perhaps this episode, as it shows the universe of the show expanding somewhat)
    S1 – "Krusty Gets Busted" (introduction of Sideshow Bob)

    S2 – "Lisa's Substitute" (a beautiful, sad episode about the relationship between Homer and Lisa, that also has one of the most beautiful, tear-jerking moments in the history of television with four simple words left on a note.)
    S2 – "The Way We Was" (a lovely flashback episode where Homer first meets Marge and have their first born child (Edit: Actually no they don't have their first child in this one. That's a later flashback). No show does flashback episodes better than the Simpsons.)

    S3 – "Flaming Moe's"
    S3 – "Radio Bart"
    S3 – "Homer at the Bat" (and it is in season 3 where the Simpsons becomes the funniest thing ever made. This episode ushered in a whole new era for the show. The show could be both heartwarming and funny. Here it just goes for balls out hilarity and succeeds over and over again. At this point the more subdued series of S1 and S2 is slowly becoming history.)

    And my absolute favourite season of television, with possibly my three favourite episodes of comedic television:
    S4 – "Mr. Plow"
    S4 – "Last Exit to Springfield"
    S4 – "Marge vs. the Monorail" (the absolute funniest episode I've ever seen of any show ever.)

    If you're not absolutely hooked at that point, I don't know what to say. Season 5 is perhaps even funnier than S4 (although I don't prefer any of the episodes to the three S4 episodes I just mentioned) and Season 6 is just as great as the three that preceded it. I haven't watch 7 or 8 in a while but they're both fantastic and 8 contains possibly the most beloved episode of the series in "You Only Move Twice".

  • Actually, come to think of it, what I said earlier isn't true; I've seen two. I saw Cape Feare in class after the end of a history final exam in eighth grade, and I saw Marge vs. the Monorail in class after the end of a history final exam in eleventh grade; it seems my history teachers like The Simpsons a lot. I liked both of those episodes. I should probably get on watching more soon.

  • Those are two of the absolute funniest episodes. Maybe not my two overall favourites but two of the funniest.

    Check out at least some of the episodes I suggested. I think it's a decent sampling of the first four seasons and you'll also get some sense of the evolution of the show.

    And I'm also sorry if I'm coming across as obnoxious in my championing of this show. I can't really help it.

  • I'm not going to lie – I have never seen a full simpsons episode in full either. 

    I was born in 1986 – so I completely lived though the years where EVERYONE watched the simpsons, so I don't know how it happened. I mean I watched Cheers, Seinfeld and other great shows even as a kid. I think I was always turned off by the animation aspect. Also for some reason when I was in elementary school my parents didn't want me to watch it even though they let me watch other primetime comedies. I always flip through it when it's on TV, even now.

    I know I am missing something special, but it is too daunting to try to watch, but thanks for those suggestions I may check some of those episodes out.

  • You really should. There's not a single show better than The Simpsons during its golden years. It combines hilarity and pathos like no other show ever made. It has the hilarity of Seinfeld and Arrested Development and the genuine pathos of something like Community, but somehow cranks up both. It's also very very easy to watch. There's tons of broad jokes but there's just as many subtle jokes that rewards close attention and repeated viewings. I watched the show mostly at a very young age so returning to these episodes and being able to now understand the more subtle jokes makes the show even better than I remembered.

    And it is really daunting, given the volume of seasons. I think everyone would agree that 1-8 are the eight best seasons of the series however, while 9 and 10 show the beginning of steep decline but are nonetheless still good television. So you could easily narrow it down to those eight seasons. And furthermore, there's little, if any, continuity between episodes so you can easily drop in on the show any time at all, hence why I suggested sampling episodes from different seasons. Each episode is an episode within itself and isn't contained within some larger narrative structure.

    The show is also defined by different eras based on who the showrunner was, so you can watch the show by era if that makes it easier:
    S1 and S2 – Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Sam Simon (more subdued, darker, not as funny but also has a very human, sincere touch.)
    S3 and S4 – Al Jean and Mike Reiss (the world expands and the show grows funnier and funnier but still packs in the pathos.)
    S5 and S6 – David Mirkin (a very very different show from S1 and S2. Here it just goes for balls out hilarity over and over again, although there are some very beautiful episodes including "And Maggie Makes Three" which I literally – and I don't use that word lightly – cannot think about without tearing up just a little bit. It makes my heart melt.)
    S7 and S8 – Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein (haven't seen these two in a while but apparently they show a slight move back to the pathos of seasons 1 to 3 while maintaining alot of the comedic touches introduced during Mirkin's reign.)

    Sorry, I'm really passionate about this show. It basically raised me and I pretty much view all of pop culture through the lens of The Simpsons. It's barely even a TV show to me, to be honest. I consider it a part of my being.

  • Janine Restrepo and Los Pollos Hermanos WE GET IT, YOU'RE YOUNG.

    If you want to get into the Simpsons, I would suggest just watching the syndicated reruns on whatever local station runs them, but nowadays you run a 50% chance of getting one of the *shudder* later seasons. 

  • Not to CBG/Abed you, Stephen77, but I believe the showrunner history goes like:
    S1-3: Al Jean and Mike Reiss (the early years were when Jim Brooks had the strongest influence, with his maudlin but effective sentimentality.)
    S4-5: David Mirkin (S4 was when Conan was on the writing staff.)
    S6-8: Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein
    S9-I don't know: Mike Scully, who fans say ruined the show. 
    Around S15, I think Al Jean came back, but it didn't really get better.

  • No I'm pretty sure I have it right actually. This supports me:
    http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki…

    Also, yes, Brooks' influence on the first two seasons is very very evident.

  • "I don't even care who wins."

    Definitely an episode that grew on me on DVD. I even ended up placing it at the bottom of my Top 30 list.

    Jack Black has a few great jokes poking fun at the whole idea of sitcoms and guest stars, but I've ended up really liking the Jeff-as-newspaper-editor plot. His back and forths with Abed are just as much about being aware of potential sitcom cliches. Even though the stuff with them and Annie is pretty brief,  it's warm and funny, and the M*A*S*H theme at the end is cute and unobtrusive.

  • "Jeff, I hope you have an army of raisins, because I've got a major scoop."

  • I really like the end with Jeff and Abed and Annie. It's short and sweet and the acting is nicely expressive. It's just one of those little things that Community is quietly able to do.

  • When I encounter the critics of this episode and 122 I can only conclude that people are just easily annoyed. In the words of Buddy, "Spanish studyin' is better when you're Buddyin' a-rouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuund yeeeeEEEeeeeEEEEeeee." If it helps, think of him as someone who annoys you. But seriously, I like to think of him as a stand-in for Dan Harmon–the eager to please chubby agile guy every group needs who ends up wearing out his welcome with random tantrums and ill-conceived attempts at humor. There's even a line from Buddy that spells it out: "I put myself out there for you! I laid my soul bare! I made you guys lemon squares with free-range eggs that I baked with my own hands!" Definitely Harmon's voice all over that; it's very reminiscent of similar lines in Documentary Redux aimed at NBC.

    -"(except for the episode where she dressed as a squirrel; that was awesome)"
    http://30.media.tumblr.com/tum…
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – Buddy sneaking in to the group hug, thus subverting the 'stunt cast'
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – Troy feels violated by Buddy sneaking in. He got some unsolicited butt stuff there
    -The group pretends they knew who Buddy was and Pierce is the only one
    who comes out and says he's never seen him in his life. Exhibit A for "I say things others won't; that has value".
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – "You like crossword puzzles, and some guy named Mark Ruffalo"
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – She's hot. Word is Jeong slapped her on the ass as she walked out in one of the takes.
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
    -"I hope you've got an army of raisins, because I've got a major scoop"
    -Can someone tell me what the heck Gillian does at 8:43? It looks like she swallowed a coin purse.
    -"Wait, so you kick high enough and you get in the group?"
    -Bong-ripping good time Charlie with a song in his heart.
    -"This job is my life" – Dean Pelton
    -Annie wanted to apply for journalism scholarships.
    -Buddy calls Jeff and Annie milord and milady.
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – Back when this worked.
    -Try getting that deal from Hitler.
    -When Buddy's reading aloud from the Spanish text, he says "donde esta la biblioteca" and Trobed share a look.
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – Stripey burgundy Beetlejuice number?
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – Crucifix imagery on Community…so deep.
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… – I love any shot of the group together in one frame

  • Your passion for fishsticks is really getting out of hand, isn't it?

    I don't know if I could think of Buddy as a Dan Harmon substitute. I like the character, but he's way too annoying. Plus, he's pretty shallow.

  • The way Harmon describes his own demeanor in the writer's room, it struck me as autobiographical. Stories of him randomly railing on a writer or the several instances on the commentaries where he'll say things like that lemon squares bit.

  • Your passion for fishsticks is really getting out of hand, isn't it?

    Needs Custard.

  • Interesting to hear you say that.  He struck me as very Harmon-y, too, especially his little speech about the fat guy and "winking at" saying "You go girl!"  I was wondering how much he was supposed to be a stand-in, but I don't know how much that works with the story.  He certainly was speaking with the voice of Harmon a lot more than the characters have since the pilot.

  • he is harmon's self-loathing look at how he comes off to others.  in real life i doubt harmon annoys people as much as buddy annoys the group

  • Exactly, @mratfink. That's what I was trying to articulate but couldn't.

  • When Buddy's reading aloud from the Spanish text, he says "donde esta la biblioteca" and Trobed share a look.

    That just wrinkled my brain.

  • Oh, wow. Nice catch with the crossword puzzles callback. I had never noticed that before.

  • I really like how you deemed it necessary to include an image of Britta and Annie hugging. Mad props for that.

  • I thought it was noteworthy considering they rarely interact…and because it's hot. I only bring the quality, folks!

  • I do dislike the way Britta (Jacobs?) hugs there though. Put the arms AROUND her! She does seem to be going more all-in with the hug than Annie is though. Let's overanalyse it!

  • Loki100

    The line, "No, they've got me editing the crossword because I'm a girl. And because I love crosswords!" is both one of the funniest lines the show's ever done, and a perfect summation of who Annie is as a person.

  • I don't know how you'd describe that thing she does, but it's really really cute. She did a similar line reading in Redux — "so basically the star".

  • I know what you mean, but I can't describe it either. She does it reasonably often.

  • Yeah, I know what you mean as well. It's adorable when she does it.

  • Puckish-bashful?

  • Another cool gag: Abed building and using a distilling apparatus for making martinis.   Between this, sentient robots, and Dreamtoriums, what can't Abed do?

  • So i was all excited to discuss this episode because i thought of this great realization i had when rewatching this series and of course this realization is the entire focus of your review, so great minds think alike!  (but seriously you made every point i wanted to make so kudos).  

    I really do see this episode as the first salvo in the eventual emergence of what the show became in late season 1 and season 2.  There is something that is very subversive about Buddy in terms of sitcom structure and subverting and homaging sitcom structure and tropes is what Community became known for. 

    Semi-bored torontian compares this episode to the Poochie episode of the Simpsons and that comparison really works but it always reminded me of the great Pinky and the Brain episode "Pinky and the Brain and Larry"  which if you've ever seen you will never forget (and if you haven't seen i highly recommend seeking it out for the hilarious theme song changes).  The reason it always called to mind the pinky and the brain episode is because this agent of chaos is basically introduced without explanation and the episode explores how this one additional factor throws off the usual dynamics. 

  • Great point on how our main characters are not necessarily the coolest.  Of course, in life, everyone is the hero of their own story. That's why most video games are about how your character is the most awesome and powerful person in the whole universe (you just have to unlock your hidden potential! Through killing hordes of enemies!)

    It's hard to think of a show that depicts its characters as not being the center of the universe, and certainly Community is not immune to lapsing into that trope, though in "Paradigms" they poke fun of it. I think most shows deal with it by setting their characters in a self-contained world. Michael Scott is truly the center of The Office, as is Leslie Knope to P&R, and Liz Lemon to 30 Rock. The people of Modern Family only interact with each other. And for the most part, Community tends to do this as well.

    I also think most modern shows tend to be more self-aware, so that you don't get situations like the Beach Boys hanging out with the Full House and Home Improvement families (and Mike Love shitting on Brian Wilson in absentia). In classic Star Trek, there was no reason why Captain Kirk and his crew were running into every interesting situation in the galaxy (in the J.J. Abrams reboot, arguably the situation was made even worse by having Kirk as a CADET in the Academy somehow save multiple universes).

  • sll03

    I mean this in a non-ironic kind of way: You go girl!
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
    It occurs to me now that you're probably not a girl, but you know what I mean.
    Great review! 10 crosswords out of 10!