Community: “Interpretive Dance” (1.14)

TV Reviews Joel McHale
Community: “Interpretive Dance” (1.14)

This week’s Community gave us two main plotlines but the focus of both was the same: secrets. Every group of friend has theirs, but when do these need to go public if you’re really in fact friends. OK, the episode doesn’t treat this thematic material as seriously as that, but the story ends up a surprisingly taut tale of these secrets coming out between friends and everyone becoming closer as a result. Awww. Gotta love TV.

In the episode’s opening, Britta finds a long brown hair on Jeff and asks him about who it came from and if it could perhaps be hair from the same girl as before? Turns out it is, and Jeff’s secret girlfriend is in fact the statistics professor from a few episodes back. The two have been carrying on their illicit affair and as is the way of these things, soon the entire Spanish study group finds out. Then, because Pierce is a member of the study group, this almost instantaneously goes completely public and the dean, who earlier warned Jeff and his ladyfriend about being in a relationship, soon arrives to make this official.

Admitting that he is in a relationship is quite a problem for Jeff, who isn’t that kind of guy. The thing is, by now in the show he actually has changed and is willing to admit that he’s dating a girl and cares about her for more than just sex. It’s a nice bit of character development that really shows how much Jeff in particular is changing as the show goes on. In a way, it’s just one more of those anti-sitcom tropes that Community loves working into its deconstruction of the genre–its characters are not in a perpetual stasis, time is pretty much the only thing in the show that works in anything resembling a realistic manner.

But Jeff’s not the only one with a secret. Troy and Britta inadvertently meet at dance practice, where they learn that Troy’s a natural at modern dance and Britta has taken up tap. Britta wants to use this opportunity for them to reveal to the entire Spanish study group what they’ve been doing. When she does so at their next meeting, Troy backs down and declines to mention that it’s not just her who has a dance recital coming up. She invites everyone else nonetheless. When the recital arrives, Britta freezes up but Troy comes to the rescue in a somewhat virtuosic, somewhat embarrassing display of terrible tap dancing and … good (?) modern dance.

Both of these plots are strong, but one thing I haven’t mentioned so far is how they also develop the odd relationship between Britta and Jeff. That Jeff was able to date a woman in the first place is due to their friendship, he reveals, but despite all of her protestations Britta is clearly unhappy that he’s with anyone else in a serious way. That’s in fact the reason why she freezes up while dancing, she sees the new couple holding hands. The episode ends up being bittersweet because of this, which is probably a first for the series but not in any way a bad thing. As both Jeff and Britta have been fleshed out far more significantly than when Community was last toying with the two of them as an item, this whole plotline is likewise a great deal more interesting now.

It all works together for a very well-written, funny episode that sets up at least a few interesting things down the line. While I don’t think that the big set-piece at the end of “Interpretive Dance” was quite as good as some of the ones that have come before it, they can’t be expected to hit it out of the park every time out. A watering tap-dance set to “Tea for Two” is definitely well within the park, but gets the job done pretty nicely nonetheless.

Stray Observations:

“I have a regular class at that time .. it’s like math or one of those regular classes.”

“Jeff, you’re sleeping with a woman you’ve already slept with?”

“Physically attractive students and faculty are put on a watch list and ranked.”

“I am spending a lot of money on breakaway clothing.”

“As soon as we touch, the blinds will open and six annoying but loveable misfits will be watching us.”

“Girls are supposed to dance, that’s why God gave them parts that jiggle.”

“Pierce’s twitter account says he’s 47 and teaches a women’s only pilates course.”

“If you say it, then later on you might have to unsay it.”

-Gotta love that the embarassing part of the dance routine is that she has trouble watering the flower.

-The commercial with Ken and the dean’s actor was, well, a commercial. Still, it really surprised the hell out of me during the break when I heard the two of them talking and panickedly thought I’d missed the credits sequence.

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