Community season 2 episode 12 review: Asian Population Studies

Back from their Christmas hols, the Community crew brace themselves for the patter of tiny feet...

2.12 Asian Population Studies

After an extended Christmas and new year break, our favourite students finally went back to class for some long overdue study group action, the odd revelation or two, and something of a classic 80s TV cameo.

With the stop-motion antics of the Christmas episode long forgotten, Community brought the most intriguing season 2 storyline to a head this week, revealing to all that Shirley is not only pregnant, but that she may be carrying Chang-spawn.

The Halloween/bathroom shenanigans couldn’t stay hidden forever, but thanks to Pierce’s irritatingly big mouth, his incredible petulance and his desire for kettle corn, Shirley’s secret shame has finally entered the group consciousness. And that’s not even the biggest surprise of the week. Turns out Shirley used to be married to Theo Huxtable! So, Theo ran off with a stripper? Dr Huxtable would not approve.

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Thanks to Annie’s daddy issues, and therefore, her penchant for older men, she’s now chasing the too good to be true Dr Rich, having fallen for him while they dredged the river together. And they say romance is dead. Anyhoo, to Jeff’s smug horror, she proposes that Rich join the group. Cue much social manipulation as the ex-lawyer does everything in his power to stop the inevitable. Sadly, Jeff’s power only stretches to bimbo blondes, and Ex-Senor Chang.

Yup, the diminutive comedy whirlwind that is Ken Jeong graces Greendale’s corridors once more, and his return is heralded with one of the funniest, creepiest entrances ever committed to celluloid. The perfect antidote to Jeff’s smugness, and Troy and Abed’s silliness, Chang’s complete and total creepiness ensures that show never gets too sickly sweet, or too self referential for its own good, and his presence was sorely lacking in the first half of the season. His need to join the study group may be bizarre, but it affords many a comedic opportunity, so let’s pray to the TV gods that he’s here to stay.

As is often the way in TVland, the group throws a party to decide on new group candidates the same day that Shirley’s ex-husband/current boyfriend happens to be visiting, ensuring the revelation of Shirley’s secret shame has maximum impact. Despite Jeff’s ‘best’ efforts, the group narrow the field of potentials to just two, Chang and Dr Rich, with Shirley as the deciding vote. When she votes Chang, Pierce’s three-year-old psyche punishes her for crossing him by announcing the possibility of Chang-spawn to the room. Clearly, Theo is not best pleased with the altogether horrific idea of naked Chang action, and takes his leave.

Now, Community is generally a happy-go-lucky type of show, and not one to leave pregnant women stranded. Knocked up and no idea who the father is, sure, but not stranded. Theo doesn’t even need to be persuaded to do the right thing, and it’s possible he and Shirley will live happily ever after. Looks like Dr Huxtable did a good job after all.

That’s the only happy ending for this week, though. Neither Dr Rich nor Ex-Senor Chang made it into the group, Annie still can’t get a date, and Jeff has decided to learn Rich’s too good to be true secret and use it to abuse people. Like I said, happy-go-lucky.

From the snappy celebrity look-alike-themed opener, to Jeff’s decimation of Rich’s character, and the presence of Malcolm Jamal Warner, Asian Population Studies is a sublime example of what Community does so well.

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With blink and you’ll miss it glimpses into how Brita does business, Troy’s inability to not verbalise his every thought, and the fact the Professor Duncan can’t get an erection, the episode is literally bursting with superb material. It’s well worth multiple watches to make sure you catch them all.

While the four week break may be contractual, it’s also a pain in the proverbial, and it’s great to have the best comedy on TV back where it belongs, in your living room, insulting people so you don’t have to!

Read our review of episode 11, Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas, here.

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