Community: “Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts” (2.22)

TV Reviews
Community: “Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts” (2.22)

Last week Community took us on a post-modern trip through memory lane in which we hadn’t heard of half the events mentioned before. Nevertheless, it worked great because of the way the characters are so well-defined. In effect, those events are fully canon, part of the show’s continuity even though we never saw what actually happened. But that still leaves us with the traditional counterpart to that episode, in which all of what we’ve seen before builds to a real conclusion.

Since episode six the show’s been edging towards Shirley’s pregnancy, and finally that sees fruition. On the last day of classes her water breaks and due to some typically idiotic planning of Dean Pelton’s, a riot is going on outside so she can’t be taken to the hospital. This means they’re going to have to deliver the baby there in the classroom, and the group more or less springs into action around this. Also happening at the same time, a reporter is following Pelton for an article and Pierce is attempting to sabotage Troy and Abed’s secret handshake by Indecent Proposal-ing away their enjoyment of it.

Most of this works well to hearken back to what the show’s done so far. Abed delivering a baby in the background of a previous episode becomes an important point, and jokes are built around the ridiculousness of the anthropology class and Britta’s history. Even the Troy/Abed subplot is about an older element of the show, so that everything except for Pelton’s plotline (which is largely just a device in order to allow John Oliver to leave and keep the delivery in the classroom) is very much something the show has already built into it. Not only that, it also had a wonderfully written appearance from Chang and keeps the entire cast in one place, both of which always make for better episodes.

Still, something felt a little bit off. Community is always teetering over the precipice of being too cartoon-y, and with race riots—excuse me, race kerfuffles—and a dean magazine coming into play the episode tipped over the edge. It was extremely wacky, but this seemed at odds with the more serious events happening in its midst. I liked the Indecent Proposal plot, but would have proffered it in another episode when it wouldn’t have been distracting from a birth happening twenty feet away.

Not that it was bad by any means. Jokes were great, with Abed and Chang particularly in top form. It’s just that it didn’t live up to an entire season of buildup, giving us a good episode but not one of the show’s best. Its tonal mismatch with its content was too great, and it gave the feeling of trying to do Community’s version of birth, rather than just being a Community episode about birth.

Stray observations:
• Given the fact that he’s finally received his own plotline, isn’t it about time Dean Pelton’s actor Jim Rash became a full cast member?
• “Throw paper balls at her head until she sits down.”
• “If it’s my child it’s ok to have a drink or two.”
• “Wowee—this is a real college.”
• “An epidural is a proper Christian woman’s only chance to get wrecked.” – not that this has ever stopped Shirley before.
• “I don’t want my baby’s first memory to be Starburns.” – This is a universally true statement for all of humanity.
• “We came so close to having one class that wasn’t about them.” – No, no they didn’t.
• “It’s like a million bucks in dog dollars.”
• “Things have turned into a bit of a race … kerfuffle.”
• “If you can visualize a rabbit riding a dragon, that will increase its chance of winning lotteries.”
• “Who exactly is the bus in this scenario?”
• “I never told you this part, but all Changs are born with tails.” – I laughed at this, but have to say it’s one of a few moments where things are verging on racism here. Maybe not just “verging on.”
• “After a fierce campaign, I happily concede this baby to you.”

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