Seriously, what’s going on with “Community” this season?

By | October 7, 2011 at 11:24 am | 10 comments | feature slider, Opinion, TV/Movies | Tags: ,

Let’s just get to it, okay? Because I’m in no mood.

We start with Chang. What the fuck is up with Chang this season? As last week’s very wise commenter Vengeanceandfashion points out, just a short while ago he was able to hold down a job as a professor—a fake, crazy professor, but a professor still. Now he’s squatting in the Greendale caf (with the dean’s consent) and dating a disembodied mannequin leg. Also, is the head body guard supposed to have a hick accent or a Latino one? I can’t tell. I’m not sure he knows. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. And he’s gonna quit by the end of the episode anyway. Spoiler alert! Oh, you don’t care.

Alison Brie is wearing a Rebecca Taylor top I own. Wait, this is a comedy website. Moving on.

You have to pay to use the water fountain at Greendale now. Also, is the guy playing the janitor the same guy who plays the janitor on 30 Rock? These are really the most interesting things I have to say about what’s going on right now.

Over in bio, Professor Wire Guy pairs everyone up and assigns them a terrarium, due tomorrow. (For those of you who never had to make a terrarium, it is apparently an aquarium for plants and turtles and turtlelike animals. Soooo, the diorama of yesteryear. This seems like a weird assignment, but whatever.) I was excited to see the new people in biology lab—I thought the gang pairing up with newbies would snap the show out of its rut. But then…wah-wah. Nope. The gang refuses to branch out, and Prof. Kane, a hardened ex-con, caves. Sure he does. And so it is: no new people. Except for Todd. Poor Todd.

Everyone pairs up in twosomes—Annie and Jeff, Abed and Troy, Britta and Shirley, Pierce and Todd—and sets out to get their terrarium-making supplies. That’s when they realize: Jeff’s a terrible listener, Abed and Troy are spending too much time together and Shirley won’t shut up about her dumb baby. Things aren’t going well.

I honestly have no idea what’s happening with Chang. His plot makes no sense. I want to fast-forward.

Time to rechoose partners because of the Todd Problem, which is, of course, actually the Same Exact Problem the Group Always Has: Their love is weird and toxic—so (later) says Todd, the most hated member of the study group, even though he’s the one with a turtle.

And so they’re back in the study lounge, endeavoring to decide who will be stuck with weird-looking, Iraqi-vet new father Todd—who, again, IS THE ONLY ONE WITH A TURTLE–as their lab partner for the rest of the semester. It all comes down to Abed’s analytics, wherein he pairs everyone based on inverse rankings of popularity and unpopularity. And that goes about as well as you’d imagine. Annie’s with Shirley, Britta’s with Troy, Jeff’s with…Todd.

More of a noirish Chang. He’s burning down the school. (Burn it to the ground, Chang. Who cares.)

Jeff goes after Abed, determined to get the algorithm and find out how Mr. Perfect Hair ended up with Mr. Weird Face. And that’s when Todd snaps. Oh, guess what—it’s time for class. The mean clique fails, Annie faints and Professor Kane’s punishment is making them work together (with one microscope) for the rest of the semester. (Convenient!) Lesson learned? Hardly. At least the gang can agree on one thing: It’s all Todd’s fault! They really are the mean clique.

People, we’ve been here before. The study group is a co-dependent, dysfunctional but ultimately completely functional entity. (Though, the terrible meanness is sort of new.) They will always come back to one another. WE KNOW. Enough with the internal conflict, enough with weird Chang—get back to what you do best, Community. Be endearing, be quirky, be hilarious. So far this season, the show hasn’t been any of these things. (Or, alternately, it’s tried too hard to be those things, like Jeff’s out-of-nowhere overprotectedness of Annie last week. I liked that almost as little as I like this—only at least then I had the hope that Annie and Jeff might make out!)

Community, come ON—you are better than this. YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS! And you’re better than all those asinine new comedies that are killing it in the ratings. You don’t kill it in the ratings, but that’s because you’re smart and quirky and clever and weird in all the right ways and you GET IT. And not everybody digs that. But your show is beloved by people who do. SO GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, COMMUNITY! I’ve said it again and again: I always hold out hope when this show is less than stellar because I don’t think a series that takes the kinds of risks it does can consistently kill, but it’s getting to be time. (I’m even sort of sick of Magnitude.) (I can’t believe I just said that.)

I didn’t love the first episode of the season, the “One About the Table,” but in retrospect, it’s the best one so far. I’m praying to the paintball/student election/Annie’s pen gods in hopes that they’ll bring the Community we know and love back next week. (Chang and the dean’s overlapping interior monologues at the end were a hint at the show we know and love. Very clever, Community writers. More like that, please!!! The final shot of Todd wasn’t bad either—and the penis Scantrons! Those were hilarious! What happened in the last few minutes? You suddenly remembered to take your Community pills, Community? I’d take 30 minutes of penis Scantrons over one more second of Chang mannequin leg. You know what I mean.)

So what did you think? Am I being a grump, or did the show really used to be better? As always, tell me what I missed and what you think I got wrong. Or just tell me that I’m pretty. I really like that.

About the Author

Carla Sosenko

Carla Sosenko is a writer and editor from Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Self, Jezebel, The Hairpin, The NY International Fringe Festival and some other places. She received her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, where she majored in choppy sentences. Carla thanks you for reading her words and kindly asks you to read more of them at carlasosenko.com. Follow her @carlasosenko. She thinks you rule.

  • Jason

    As I watched Community last night, I was thinking the SAME thing! I was thinking to myself ‘wha’ happened?’

    Community is the best written comedy on television, but Chang is indeed a coherent, but misguided individual, rather than a bumbling idiot with no purpose.
    Let’s get back to that premise, Community. 

    Also, I feel a supposed need for continuity that isn’t necessary. Since we almost never see Shirley’s baby, we don’t need the constant reminder. I’m mostly bummed about the ‘I’m back’ dismissal of the very powerful season finale. The ‘what the?!’ feelings I had were similar to when on ‘Scrubs,’ JD has this well written exit at the end of Season 8, only to not leave for more than half of the next season, wasting all that was put into it.

  • Thatsfunny

    it’s clearly Todd’s fault.  

  • Jason

    As I watched Community last night, I was thinking the SAME thing! I was thinking to myself ‘wha’ happened?’

    Community is the best written comedy on television, but Chang is indeed a coherent, but misguided individual, rather than a bumbling idiot with no purpose.
    Let’s get back to that premise, Community. 

    Also, I feel a supposed need for continuity that isn’t necessary. Since we almost never see Shirley’s baby, we don’t need the constant reminder. I’m mostly bummed about the ‘I’m back’ dismissal of the very powerful season finale. The ‘what the?!’ feelings I had were similar to when on ‘Scrubs,’ JD has this well written exit at the end of Season 8, only to not leave for more than half of the next season, wasting all that was put into it.

  • Thatsfunny

    it’s clearly Todd’s fault.  

  • http://www.twitter.com/davebaxter1989 Davebaxter1989

    To attack Community on grounds of realism is like attacking Owls on grounds of wisdom.

  • emily

    yeah i have to agree with you – the chang story was unfunny and just long.  i LOVED the other seasons, and this one has been odd and seems to have a lot of prolonged silences. i must admit there were a couple parts that i laughed out loud, but overall, i was mostly wishing it to start being normal

  • Pingback: My angriest Community recap yet! « Such a Pretty Face

  • Psych354

    I thought what the group did to Todd was absolutely unforgivable and hated the way the show wrapped it up. People have committed suicide over less. I don’t remember bullying being accepted in any form, and even in comedy the bullies eventually get taken down. That didn’t happen in this episode. 

  • Hailie

    Yeah, I agree. The whole study group needs to be put in time-out. Or maybe the writers do. This episode oscillated between a mostly unfunny Chang plot and a mostly mean-spirited study group plot. What the hell?

  • Creativegurl2088

    I agree, this entire season has been awful so far, but the ecology project is the nadir. I fastforwarded through the Chang parts. The fight in the study room was insane. Since when is meanspirited bullying, backstabbing, and in the case of Chang, arson hysterically funny? By the end I was on Todd and the professors’ side. Maybe the writer’s should check out the it get’s better campaign and other anti-bullying campaigns. If Community doesn’t shape up soon, I’m deleting it from my record series and watching something else.