Community season 2 episode 3 review: The Psychology Of Letting Go

Community continues to provide the sitcom model that everyone else should be following, argues Emma...

2.3 The Psychology Of Letting Go

Quiet at the back! Welcome to Death 101. Feel the fear and eat the doughnut anyway. And do try and ignore the mud wrestling women. You’ll only encourage them.

The smartest, sharpest show on TV was back this week with more important life lessons for the students of Community. The Psychology Of Letting Go made some headway in bringing Jeff’s 14-year-old psyche in line with the rest of the grown ups, killed Pierce’s mother, and had Britta and Annie rolling around in the mud in the name of feminism.

Kicking off with the shock revelation that Pierce still lives with his mother, oh, and that Troy found her dead in the garage, the episode forces Jeff to confront his mortality, something he apparently skipped as a teenager, and the fact that eating doughnuts and ice cream is infinitely preferable to living forever.

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Discovering that his previously perfect physical condition has been marred by the arrival of a heart attack-tempting high cholesterol level is too much for the ex-lawyer, and his belief system all but collapses. Worshipping at the altar of himself suddenly seems like a waste of time, an attitude highlighted by the useful presence of Prof. Duncan, drunk, slovenly, with a face full of fried food, and still likely to outlive Jeff, throwing the anally retentive quest for physical perfection into sharp relief. Jeff finally takes the stick out of his ass, and puts some ice cream in his face. A life lesson that we can surely all get behind. It’ll never last.

Elsewhere, Britta and Annie attempt to save the Gulf from the ravages of the oil leak, and whilst money is raised, the pair mostly fight over whose particular style of femininity is most justified, when Annie’s boobs (her actual boobs, not the monkey) raise more money than Britta’s surly demands. The surly, demanding Britta calls Annie on her little girl lost shtick, while Annie points out that Britta’s carefully coiffed ‘do and stripper boots aren’t fooling anyone.  Of course, they end up rolling around in spilt oil, thereby proving their feminist credentials once and for all. This conflict is, perhaps, the low point of the episode. It’s funny in places, but mostly it’s just irritating. Hearing an actress (whom you may remember as Sam Rockwell’s stripper girlfriend in Choke) accuse another of selling out her gender may well be an irony too far.

Lucky, then, that the rest of the episode held many other delights. This week saw the return of La White, currently on holiday in the Congo, explaining the intricacies of Inception to a tribal leader. Student Chang and Prof. Duncan continued their rivalry with a restraining order force field showdown. And let us take a moment to fully appreciate Troy’s description of Pierces’ mother’s final moments as ‘Gangsta.’

The highlight of the episode, however, and proof, if it were still needed, of how well put together this show is, occurred almost completely in the background. No dialogue, no explanation, just a superb glimpse into Abed’s life outside the group.

Having been such a dominating presence in the first season, Abed’s been a little quieter this year, and while he stayed quiet this week, his actions spoke volumes. The more eagle-eyed among you will have noticed him with a heavily pregnant student outside the library, helping her when she went into labour in the cafeteria, and then delivering the baby in the parking lot. All done outside of the main storylines, and never mentioned, the rest of the group is so wrapped up in the group that they don’t even notice Abed’s unexplained absence.

Almost completely removing a lead character from the main arcs can be risky, but in this case it’s a move that totally pays off, providing you caught it. Otherwise, you might worry that Abed has developed a strange obsession with newborns. Designing in-jokes specifically for the audience members that happen to notice them shows just how confident the production team at Community is, and rightly so. Take that Big Bang Theory et al.

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Fresh, funny and doing more for the art of TV than anyone else out there, Community is fast becoming the model for a 21st century sitcom, unlike many of its poorer, throwback cousins. You know who you are. Which begs the question: why is the UK broadcasting this show on the obscure music video channel, Viva, which not all viewers can get? For shame UK networks. For shame.

Read our review of episode 2, Accounting For Lawyers, here.