2.15 Early 21st Century Romanticism
As everyone in TV land is complicit in the celebration of consumerism that is Valentine’s Day, even the usually deliberately outside of the mainstream Community can’t escape its grip. Thankfully though, Early 21st Century Romanticism is a very Greendale-esque take on the trad schmaltz fest that Valentine’s Day generally produces.
Packed with fights, breakups, drug addictions and homelessness, this week’s episode takes a while to show its true colours, but when it does, it’s way more genuine and warm than any previous attempt at a Valentine’s show in the history of TV. But then, this is Community.
Jeff’s mystification at the popularity of the Barenaked Ladies having caused a rift in the usually far too close group, he’s forced to spend Valentine’s night watching Manchester United trounce (I assume) Liverpool with Prof Dean. Being a self-confessed stylish American, Winger has been forcing himself to appreciate football – not soccer – for many years.
Through a series of Chang-inspired events, including but not limited to laundry in the dishwasher, illegal wearing of Jeff’s underwear and an impromptu party with a bunch of strangers, Jeff finds himself in the unusual position of missing his study group.
Could it be that Winger is finally coming to terms with his need for actual people, rather than just an empty, 80s-grey apartment and a 2009 Lexus? Unlikely, but it’s a nice thought.
While Jeff mingles with Chang’s friends, and Starburns, the group spread its wings a little. All but Annie and Shirley reach out to non-group members for a little variation. Britta, in ultra PC mode, befriends a woman she assumes is a lesbian, simply because it ups her cool factor to know gay people. Troy and Abed attempt to woo the new librarian as a duo, and Pierce is once again hanging out with mini-Andy Dick. Clearly, none of these parings is fated for a happy ending.
Britta’s humiliation is well deserved, as is Pierce’s, although, despite his inherent hatefulness, somebody really needs to save him from Andy Dick. Having said that, somebody really needs to save Andy Dick from Andy Dick. Anyhoo, Troy and Abed’s ‘pairing’ is perhaps the sweetest storyline the show has come up with so far.
From the tag team chat up with added briefcase tacos, to Abed’s incredibly mature acceptance when she chooses Troy, and Troy’s rejection of said librarian when she insults his life partner, this friendship just keeps getting better. A funnier, warmer and weirdly true-to-life bromance you will not find. The hug they share in the hall is perhaps the most telling moment of the show, and they don’t say a word.
Our fave study group aren’t the only ones doing a little Valentine’s reaching out. Both Prof Duncan and ex-Senor Chang try to end their misery by latching on to a groupless Jeff. Chang’s pathetic manoeuvrings in order to find a place to stay are somehow even sadder, given the fact that he keeps hermit crabs as pets.
Given that it’s an episode about friendship, it’s obvious that Jeff will give in, but it’s no less heartwarming for it. Chances are he’ll regret sharing his home with a nutcase, but still.
Once again, Community has taken the traditional sitcom codes and conventions and turned them on their head to produce 21 minutes of eminently watchable comedy. From the non-lesbian lesbian kiss, to Starburn’s festive heart-burns, Jeff’s closing sentiments and the passion the group shares for the Barenaked Ladies, this show is sweet, funny and dark all at once, a Valentine’s episode we can all be proud of, and it’s way better than chocolate! Well, almost.
Read our review of episode 14, Advanced Dungeons And Dragons, here.
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