Community season 2 episode 20 review: Competitive Wine Tasting

We’re back in class for some more life lessons in Community. Here’s Emma’s review of episode 20, Competitive Wine Tasting…

2.20 Competitive Wine Tasting

Back after an extended break, the latest Community episode is something of a hit and miss affair. Taking in corporate espionage, the profundities of “Who’s the Boss” classes, and the emotional battles faced by wannabe actors, along with copious amounts of self-referencing jokes, Competitive Wine Tasting still doesn’t quite hit the comedic heights we’ve become so used to.

It’s the time of year, apparently, when Greendale students pick new classes for the remainder of the year – clearly Anthropology can be understood in just 19 weeks. Who knew? Jeff and Pierce indulge their pretentious side with Italian wine tasting, leading to a rather sad ‘let’s see who gets the woman’ contest.

Jeff crashes and burns embarrassingly fast, when said woman inexplicably chooses Pierce for being a ‘gentle soul’. Inexplicable, not only because Pierce is one of the vilest human being ever conceived, but also because in a competition between the two, surely a lifetime of celibacy would be the obvious answer?

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Anyhoo, Pierce’s victory is more than Jeff can stand, particularly as the couple becomes engaged less than 12 hours after first meeting. Jeff’s lawyerly training and crippling egomania lead him to conclude that Pierce’s fiancée is up to something.

Despite his best efforts – consisting of little more than a conversation – he fails to reveal the scam, and grudgingly concedes that it’s possible the couple might actually be on the level. She is after all Pierce’s perfect woman – rude, racist, and disdainful of everyone, she’s essentially a female Pierce, and they do say that we’re attracted to ourselves… Hence Jeff’s hair.

So, it’s hardly a surprise when, thanks to a brief but informative appearance by Ex-Senor Chang, and the help of Google, Jeff finally proves that the relationship is fake, and a part of the Towelette Wars Pierce’s company is currently embroiled in. The obnoxious speech that follows is Jeff at his most petty and unlikeable, and despite redeeming himself later on, and reuniting what he tore asunder, the ex-lawyer’s egocentrism is starting to grate.

Elsewhere, the new classes lead Abed into the dogmatic destruction on a man’s life’s work, on the Who’s the Boss course. Generally the most whimsical member of the group, Abed’s stubborn adherence to the literal meaning of the question “Who’s the boss?” is almost completely out of character. This is a man who once thought the world was a clay-mation movie, but somehow involving Tony Danza means he loses all sense of perspective.

Going out of his way to empirically prove that Angela was indeed the boss, in every sense of the word, begs the question: is Abed spending too much time with Jeff? This is the sort of thing Winger thrives on, and it looks like Abed has been paying close attention. Luckily, Stephen Tobolowsky, playing the distraught professor, can get work anywhere…

The relish with which Abed dismantled the professor’s belief system isn’t the only out of character behaviour he displays this week – Abed is also the voice of reason in a particularly tricky/hilarious Troy/Britta interface. Hilarious mostly because they would make a terrible couple.

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Having taken an acting class together, Troy inadvertently makes up an abuse story, because his life hasn’t been painful enough to make him an ‘actor’. Britta, famously attracted to broken men, suddenly sees Troy in a new light, something it seems he actually wants. Advised by Abed, Troy eventually ends up confessing to his lie, and everything is alright in the end.

A quick and easy resolution indeed, something pointed out by Professor Garrity, (played by the ever-excellent Kevin Corrigan in his second Community cameo) in one of the most uncomfortably self-referencing speeches ever to appear in the series. Quick tip, Team Community: Hanging a light on the weaknesses of a story very rarely has the desired effect.

While the acting class storyline is the least interesting of the episode, not least because of the clunky ‘irony’ of the acting instruction, it does give way to perhaps the funniest scene Community has produced for a while. Yes, Fiddler, Please!, the all black production of Fiddler On The Roof was, frankly, genius and well worth all the knowing, self-referential smugness that precedes it.

So, not the best effort we’ve seen from Team Community, but with the occasional flash of genius, Competitive Wine Tasting does just enough to keep its Best Comedy on TV title. But, with the likes of the excellent Raising Hope creeping up behind it, let’s hope the veneer of complacency on display this week is a temporary blip. Fingers crossed…

Read our review of episode 19, Critical Film Studies, here.