Episode 118: Basic Geneology
Greetings homeslices! I don’t know how many of you have really thought long and hard (tee-hee?) about this episode, but it’s really just 20 minutes of character building; If this was most other shows, I’d be turned off at that concept. However, Community is, from my perspective, a character central show, unlike, say, The Office, which is a mostly situation based show.
The episode starts out with a disappointment – Slater breaks up with Jeff, and not in a way that makes sense. We don’t even hear why she broke up with him, and the show just shrugs it off as if it hasn’t been a running subplot. According to the commentary, Slater had to break up with Jeff, but again, the show should have given us a reason, instead of “yeah, we’re breaking up just because.” They completely ignore it after the episode until Pascal’s Triangle – it’s kind of amateur to be honest.
The group consoles Jeff in one of the funniest scenes in the episode – Shirley calls Jeff a machine fuelled by sex, “The Bootynator”. It’s scenes like this that prove that Community works best when the entire group’s together; the rest of the episode kind of proves that when you split them up, it might not work as well. Jeff spots a hot tamale and claims that he’ll “Be back – but with booty.” Of course, the tamale in question is Pierce’s step-daughter (cue Principal Skinner – “How Ironic.”) Here’s where things get a bit convoluted, so I’ll explain the Jeff/Pierce storyline with some bullet points –
- Jeff stops trying to bang Amber because she’s Pierce’s stepdaughter.
- Annie wants Jeff to wingman Pierce with Amber, so he does. (does anyone know why Annie did that? I don’t really see why she’d want Jeff to do something he doesn’t want to do.)
- Amber keeps hitting on Jeff.
- They sex.
- Amber turns out to be a horrible person.
- Amber leaves with a lot of money given by Pierce
- Jeff tells Pierce that if he has friends, he has family.
- Pierce consoles Jeff after Jeff sees Slater.
- Glee reference.
It’s an okay plot, but still is very much below Community standards – I think Jeff acts a little bit out of character in the episode (I can understand wanting to do a favour for a friend but if Annie had said that to me, I wouldn’t have done it), and Pierce has never mentioned his step-daughter before, which is strange as he seems to hold her in high regard. The best thing about it was, without a shadow of a doubt, the Pictionary scene. Chevy Chase nails the delivery of just about every line (“HAPPY Sideways Vagina!”) and the windmill gag is brilliant (“You’re supposed to know, Stupid!”). I actually think this episode shows how good Chevy Chase can be; He completely gets into the “Protect the Princess” mindset and his consolation of Jeff at the end is quite sweet and one of those “actually, Pierce isn’t all that bad” moments. The episode makes Pierce into a human. From my point of view, the worst thing was Katherine McPhee – I really didn’t care for her, and she seemed very out of place. I think she guested to boost ratings.
No, it’s the subplots where this episode really gets funny – and what I think was really great is that they both kind of stuck to the same theme; discipline. In the Abed/Shirley section, Shirley’s family (her kids) and Abed’s family (his dad and his cousin) just hang out. The thing I find really interesting about the subplot is one that’s never mentioned – Shirley’s family is deeply Christian and Abed’s is strictly Muslim. Shirley and Gobi start fighting over how to discipline their children, while Abed’s cousin goes off to play in a bouncy castle with the help of Shirley’s kids. This entire subplot may seem like a casual, fun one, but I really do think it has a deeper meaning – While the religious adults are fighting, the more carefree and innocent children are playing, suggesting that maybe we should just forget all about these pre-conceived notions and have fun. (Is that a VanDerWerff? Am I VanDerWerffing?) In any case, it build up a good relationship between Shirley and Abed, and going with the religious theme, I think it’s a pre-cursor to Messianic Myths and Ancient People.
And then we come to the Britta/Troy subplot, which I enjoyed a lot. Britta and Troy are probably my favourite characters (This constantly changes so I might just be going through a Tritta phase). It’s also a great plot for Britta, because I think the writers finally realized her character – she’s stubborn. She will do anything to prove a point, even going as far as physical pain. She will do anything tolook cool and hip – but her version of cool and hip, which might not (and probably isn’t) everyone else’s view. It’s also a well written Sub-Plot, and Donald Glover kills it at the end (“I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU BRITTA, I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU AT ALL”). And the whooping scene? Well, I think I speak for some of us here when I say…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdjzNErvxFg…Uh…Yeah.
Now it’s time for the section I like to call Chang we can Believe in. I have never used this section before and will probably not use it again. Basically I’m going to tell you all why Chang is a brilliant character in this episode.
Chang’s comments about his class’ families are completely inappropriate and, on occasion, offensive (“How’s the trade embargo with the Naboo?”). It’s a great example of his egotistical, manic personality before he’s driven truly insane by becoming a student, being kicked out of his home, etc. Plus, we get the first hint of the plot-that-could-have-been, “I ate my twin in utero.” I also absolutely love Rabbi Chang, so I’m hoping for a sub-plot where he teaches Jewish Stuides or something.
I’m sorry this review wasn’t very long, but I don’t really have much else to say about the episode. It’s definitely good – like I said, we learn a lot more about the characters, their backstory, what makes them tick – but it’s not a great episode. Like I said before, the Jeff plot was not very good, Slater breaking up with him wasn’t given enough reinforcement, and I didn't care for Katherine McPhee much at all. Sorry guys – I promise my review of Crit Film Studies will be better. I’ve got a shit-ton of things to say about it.
Thank you for reading guys; it’s been fun watching this episode multiple times.
MVPs: Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs
The Tag: Abed and Troy are stuck inside the vending machine. It looks really cramped, even if there’s leg room at the back. Also, I think the candy bar goes into Troy’s ass – I hope that doesn’t awaken anything.
- Star Burn’s son. What does he do? What’s with the Bluetooth? He’s an enigma…
- I do love the fact that Jeff, Britta and Annie don’t have family with them. Annie doesn't because, of course, she abandoned then after her drug stint (They have to do an episode covering her parents’ coming to visit), Jeff obviously doesn’t care, but why aren’t Britta’s family there? Because she doesn’t think they’re cool…Probably.
- “Gobi Nadir.” “Is that how you say hello?” “That’s my name.”
- “I hate Glee…I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE APPEAL AT ALL”
- “Actually, it’s a very big world with Five billion other women in it.”
- “They always finish each other’s…” “…Pie.”
- “You’re like a black ghost.”
On the A. V. Club: http://www.avclub.com/articles/regional-holiday-music,66270/#comment-448685483 (page 119)