2.22 Applied Anthropology And Culinary Arts
Racing towards the end of its sophomore year, Community treats us all to a lesson or two in Applied Anthropology And Culinary Arts. While there’s very little culinary artistry on display, there’s a ton of anthropology applying, as a certain expectant member of our favourite study group goes to extraordinary lengths to pass the exam, by producing a brand new human being. Little unfair on the rest of the class, but that’s academia for you.
Yes, it’s the event we’ve been waiting for since that fateful Halloween night. Will poor Shirley unwittingly unleash unholy Chang spawn on the population of the world, or will Andre and the powers of the Huxtables triumph in the end?
As the impromptu birth takes the class, and Shirley, by surprise, it looks suspiciously like Chang will soon be that child’s estranged father. But, this being sitcom land. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by the outcome. Andre is, indeed, Shirley’s babydaddy, and the world has been spared the horrors of mini-Changs. For now.
While the ending to this particular storyline is a little safe, it did give us a chance to see an almost human side to the ex-Senor, despite, or perhaps because of the crazy circumstances in which previous generations of Changs have arrived on the planet. Oddly warm, even touching at times, Chang’s involvement in Ben Bennett’s unexpected appearance finally showed us who Chang really is: a broody psychopath, missing his tail.
We got something of an insight into who the rest of the group really are as well, although none of it was massively surprising. Troy and Abed are fairly self-involved, and had little to do with the whole thing, Jeff keeps a suitably detached air, and Britta throws up. Pierce somehow managed to ignore the whole event, preferring instead to torture Troy and Abed by temporarily sullying their bromance. In an hilarious Indecent Proposal-type situation (Troy’s Demi is fabulous), the aged misery buys the rights to their special handshake, tainting it in the process. But not for long. You just can’t keep a good bromance down. All of which means that Pierce is perhaps the most arrogant, self-involved, and malicious character ever conceived.
Abed does manage to briefly tear himself away from the handshake drama, and in a blink and you’ll miss it reveal, mentions that, earlier in the year, he delivered a baby in the parking lot. This leads to him kicking off the delivery in earnest, but due to an unforeseen quirk of gender, he is unable to singlehandedly bring a second human being into the world. Despite her tendency to vomit condescendingly where natural processes are concerned, Britta takes charge, and pulls a little dude out of her friend. And she manages to do it with without throwing up or condescending to anyone. It’s a miracle.
With the end of the who’s the daddy storyline, along with the Anthropology class, it would seem that it’s also the end of Professor Duncan’s sobriety for the umpteenth time. Which essentially means that everyone passes the class, but nobody really learns anything. Or do they?
Clearly, the not so subtle implication here is that we are at our most human during a crisis, and that’s when we learn the most about who we are. Twee as that sounds, in the context of the episode, it stayed just the right side of cheesy.
Elsewhere, the Jeff/Britta backbiting/sexual tension is back in abundance, Dean Pelton has ample opportunity to squeal his way through the birth while simultaneously causing a race riot, and we discover that the study group’s fellow students really don’t like them very much. Apparently, the St Patrick’s Day trip that we didn’t see is an event treated with some reverence at Greendale, giving the college as it did, an entire week without the presence of Pierce.
With this episode, season 2 is essentially wrapped, the forthcoming paintball/Josh Holloway extravaganza notwithstanding, making this a good time for some second year reflection. Much like the series, Applied Anthropology had its charms, it was warm without being overly sentimental, and had some genuinely touching moments. It was also a tad disjointed, and had a meandering quality, neither of which are particularly negative qualities in an episode or a series, but season 2 hasn’t been quite as consistent as the first.
Having said that, it’s a show that’s maturing, and minor teething troubles aside, Community is still one of the best shows on TV right now. With not only the two part finale, but an entire third season to come, there’s plenty of time for the Team Community to change their sophomore year grade from a B+ to an A, and there’s every chance they will.
Read our review of episode 21, Paradigms Of Human Memory, here.