Community season 3 episode 13 review: Digital Exploration Of Interior Design

Community gets its teeth into politics in this week’s episode, Digital Exploration Of Interior Design. Here’s Emma’s review...

This review contains spoilers.

3.13 Digital Exploration Of Interior Design

From the pure comedy of last week’s Contemporary Impressionists, Community pulls one of its smoothest segue ways yet, by dabbling in a little bit of politics, and a lot of manipulation. Oh wait, that’s politics too…

While it’s not unheard of for sitcoms to tackle to the odd bit of politics, it isn’t always advisable. With the possible exception of 30 Rock – if all republicans were like Jack Donaghy, we’d all be driving hummers and paying for elections to be rigged. But, it is an election year, and the one steadfast rule for election year is that politicians will literally say anything to get your vote, which leads to the sort of policy proposals that would usually earn them an extended stint in the Stupid Corner.

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Don’t even get me started on Virginia. The upshot of all this political neanderthalism is that election years are great for comedy, if nothing else, and allow a forward thinking team of writers to point out the absurdities of rampant, dunce politics.

Thanks to Citizens United’s incredible assertion that corporations are, for all intents and purposes, people, Community this week took that assertion to its natural conclusion with the addition of the Corpo-Human ‘Subway’ to the student body. A bland, middle class white male, putting the interests of the free market before his individual freedoms, ‘Subway’ is not only a hilarious way of letting us know that Britta is deviant, it’s also a frightening vision of the future. Despite being the clear antithesis of the American Dream, ‘Subway’ also embodies the creeping, corporate sponsored, empty, money chasing existence that is becoming the new American Dream. Or would be if big business had its way. The scariest thing about ‘Subway’ is how creepily plausible the whole thing is – an interchangeable pawn with no human rights and a morality clause? It’s Rick Santorum’s wet dream. If he were capable of having them.

Scarily prescient visions of a corporate future are exactly why it isn’t always advisable for sitcoms to tackle politics – if the backward looking politicians hadn’t come up with this already, Team Community just handed them an inspiring idea. Politicians are not creative – which is why political discourse is generally stuck in the 50s. Start giving them creative ways of dispersing their vile ideas – even as a joke  – and you risk creating a monster. The necessity for Community to retain a sizable audience aside, let’s hope no one even close to the election process saw this episode.

The free market invasion of the Greendale campus wasn’t the only odd college-based activity this week. The Community-verse has been turned on its head, as the college’s only true bromance was torn asunder by some pillows, and a man in a French plait. The cracks that appeared last week have been prised open – surprisingly easily – leading to a Breakdance-style, pyjama sporting, fort standoff. Homeless thanks to the need for a termite extermination in their building, the boys decide, as you would, to crash in the college corridors, under the guise of building a pillow fort.

Once the boys are out of their comfort zone, they are at the Vice Dean’s mercy – in between plaiting his hair, and buying onesies, his obsession with Troy reaches evil genius proportions. Where the blanket fort was once an emblem of their bizarrely sweet relationship, it now signifies the battle of egos that T&A has become. Can Troy and Abed survive the fort war and resume their friendship? This is sitcom land, so of course they will. But watching the pair fight is surprisingly uncomfortable – it’s just not right, and brings the show’s surreal quotient down to worryingly normal levels. If you ignore that fact that there’s a fort at all, and that everyone is in their pyjamas, obviously. It says a lot when Pierce drinking ink is the most unusual element in the show. With any luck, T&A will be back to their old selves by this time next week; until then, we’ll be left wondering: what’s going on with the Vice Dean that necessitates that much hair?

With the college descending into comfortably attired gang wars, Britta heartbroken, and Pierce finally succumbing to the dementia, Interior Design is about as far removed from last week’s episode as it’s possible to get, but that is in no way a bad thing. Part of the joy of the show’s central contradiction is its completely random nature, and that’s what makes good TV. Repetition is the refuge of the lazy, and clearly Team Community is anything but lazy. Prescient, sarcastic, surreal and hilarious, but never lazy. Well, except for that whole Jeff’s-an-inconsiderate-dick story. We already know Jeff is a narcissistic pain in ass, and while Annie’s insistence on teaching him important life lessons whenever she can is more annoying than lazy, Jeff’s personality disorder is oft-discussed.

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That said, if the low point of the show is a smarmy lawyer apologising to the locker of a fictional dead girl, clearly, it’s been a pretty good episode. Let’s hope NBC was in agreement…

Read our review of last week’s episode here.

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