The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Too Cool for School

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Hi friends,

Well, this might be the first episode this season that I think I could watch twice (and given that there are Community episodes I’ve watched 4 times – e.g., Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas – I was starting to feel disappointment with my utter lack of desire to ever return to any of this season’s). But with Economics of Marine Biology, a few jokes definitely slipped past me. There were even moments (especially in the cold open) when they were stacked and integrated well enough that I almost couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t until I’d felt the temptation to rewind for about a third time that I realized that desire to repeat, to experience the same thing immediately again, is precisely what’s been missing from this season for me. Whether we settle on Let’s or Splingles, Troy’s right – it’s been quite the week!

I’m going to leave the central story to you guys, and focus on one of the secondary (Pierce and Jeff, not Troy and Shirley) and hidden (Abed!) instead. I can’t quite figure out how to read the Pierce/Jeff storyline. Almost everything that happens with Pierce at this point feels like a (not-so-) thinly veiled dig at Chevy Chase himself. And the setup for this episode followed suit. Pierce ruins everything. His money (um, fame) is what keeps this ramshackle operation running. He needs to be distracted for anything new and good to happen. And he’s too clueless to realize any of this for himself. This story we know – yeah, NBC needed Chevy Chase to get the show off the ground, but he’s been a constant nuisance ever since and doesn’t even seem to get how brilliant this show is/was. The nostalgic turn, however, left me wondering how much that part of the story maps onto what’s happening off-stage as well. In the end Pierce/Chase is just trying to raise up a new generation who he doesn’t really understand, but to whom he does have some wisdom to impart…if only they’ll take five minutes to listen. Will these last few episodes be an extension of forgiveness to CC for running the show into the ground? What form would such redemption even take??

I loved imagining what Abed and the Delta Cubes were getting up to offstage. There’s a long tradition in this show of having Abed’s narrative happen in the distance (best example: his delivering of a baby in the background of The Psychology of Letting Go). The reason this always works is because we see some aspect of Abed-as-hero unfolding, but also don’t get to see it. Of all our central characters, Abed (so often painted as the one who should be the loneliest – after all, he supposedly can’t quite relate to others) is always the one who has a actual life off-screen (because he forges his own ways of relating which are compelling and lovely) – and I love those occasional reminders!

Ok, I kind of think it’s a testimony to this episode that I can only cover a fraction of its plotlines – so what did you guys make of The Whale, and the PEE stories?

Get your damn hands off my Let’s,
Natalie

———————————————
Hi-

I feel differently about the multiple plotlines—I thought it was too much. The story about Archie “the whale” seemed like it should have been/was the central plot, but it was as if the writers knew it couldn’t carry the episode, so they made three other stories happen too (or two and a half, since you’re right about most of Abed’s story happening off-screen). The whale plot didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know: Yes, Greendale is a relatively resource-poor school, but the people make it a worthwhile place (Pop pop!). When the dean finally reveals this truth to Archie, Archie is moved to choose a community where, for the first time in his life, people won’t just try to please him. That would all be fine if only—and I’m repeating myself here—it had been funny. It wasn’t terrible, but it failed to uncover a new emotional insight about Greendale or to make me laugh out loud. The first three seasons of Community often did both, and I’ve adjusted my hopes for this season to count doing one of those things as a quality episode.

Moments in the Jeff-Pierce story were more emotionally interesting, and you raise a good question about how far it maps onto the real-life situation with Chevy Chase and the show. I’m a longtime Chevy Chase fan, and I like the possibility that the show will conclude in a satisfying way as far as Pierce is concerned. This episode offered what feels like the right dynamic in that respect. Pierce is still a sorta-jerk who says offensive things (in this case, “why don’t you gay marry it”), but he’s actually right about some things from time to time (in this case, old school barbershops provide cool aesthetic and community experiences of their own).

Aspects of the Troy-Shirley and Abed stories invited more smiles and occasional chuckles. The depiction of Physical Education Education was fun to watch, because it seemed like it was going to make fun of P.E. teachers, but instead it called into question the idea that being a P.E. teacher is an easy, ridiculous job. More than being amused by Troy’s ineptitude at controlling rambunctious mock-P.E. students, I enjoyed seeing Shirley do well at something. It’s a shame that her success often comes as a surprise, but I suppose that’s an accurate depiction of many black women’s experiences in this culture—observers underestimate them.

I, too, got a kick out of the Let’s/Splingles debate. Seeing Troy and Britta spar about their chip brand loyalty while lying in bed felt like lazy writing though, since it barely seems to matter that they’re a couple. It was as though the show just had to remind us they’re supposed to be together.

My assessment may be harsher than usual, as I’ve recently started re-watching old episodes. Many of them make me laugh out loud, and though I probably shouldn’t confess it here, some of them make me declare to an empty room, “That’s funny!” Pretty please give me some laughs in the remaining episodes, Community.

-E

 

 

Written by themothchase

March 22, 2013 at 8:13 am

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