Dear TV Writers: Your Fear of the Moonlighting Curse is Killing Your Show

What is the Moonlighting Curse, and why is it such a big deal to television writers? Read this in-depth look at the crippling phenomenon and find out!

Getting Rid of the Stigma: Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction, by Megan Mann

In this piece, Megan brilliantly discusses the stigma of mental illness in literature and how some young adult novels are helping to change the landscape for this discussion.

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

A mask does not a hero make. In this piece, I discuss why it's wrong to dismiss characters without costumes or masks as superheroes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

4x03 "Conventions of Space and Time" (Relationships are Complicated)


"Conventions of Space and Time"
Original Airdate: February 21, 2013

What do good relationships look like? I mean, what do REALLY good relationships look like? When I think of successful relationships, I think of elderly people. (Yeah, hear me out on this one.) I was walking out of Target the other night, bag dangling on one hand and was walking out behind this elderly couple. They were probably in their 70s, but they were holding hands as they shuffled out the door. I couldn’t help it – I smiled. Because longevity is something that’s pretty endearing when it comes to relationships. With half of all marriages ending in divorce these days, to see a couple who have made their relationship work for decades? Well, it’s inspiring, at least to me. But there was something pretty poignant that Abed said in regards to relationships about what successful ones need to function – a balance between one partner who is more logical, and one who is emotional. And truly, if you examine any relationship or friendship, you’ll find this to be accurate. There’s a reason, after all, for the saying “opposites attract.” Two emotional people would not provide the basis for a very stable relationship. Nor would two extremely logical people. (There are, I am sure, exceptions so if you and your mate both tend to be logical or emotional, please don’t send me nasty emails.) As a general rule, however, there needs to be a balance of both to create the foundation for a stable relationship. Logical people help ground emotional people. And emotional people? They help logical people learn how to be free, to dream.

So now that this introduction is almost over, think about which type of person YOU are, and hit the comments afterward to discuss. But also – think about the relationships on this show and which category you’d place each of the Greendale Seven into. Who knows – I MAY bring them up later on!

Also, I’d like to say that I appreciate Maggie Badur SO MUCH. And I absolutely loved how this episode worked on a surface level with the Greendale characters, but how it also said a LOT about Doctor Who, too. And I know, from yesterday’s tweet with Bobrow, that she is a huge Whovian. So even though you’re not on Twitter, Maggie, know I loved this episode and all of the depth you brought to it. So I'm giving you a gold star. And a lot of kudos. And maybe cookies.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Character Appreciation Post: Winston Bishop ("New Girl")


In every show, there are some characters that are more underappreciated than others. New Girl is usually not one of those shows, mainly because of how cohesive the ensemble is and how often different sets of characters have the opportunity to share screen time with one another. But the truth is that amidst the Nick/Jess and Schmidt/CeCe and all the other crazy shenanigans, sometimes we forget about Winston Bishop. It’s not that we love him any less than we love the rest of the group – at least, that’s not how I feel. New Girl, quite frankly, is the one show where I have equal love for each character in the loft (and CeCe) and can honestly say that I don’t have a least favorite character. 

But today’s post is celebrating the wonderful, weird, amazing Winston Bishop. I was a bit disheartened, after viewing the pilot, that Damon Wayans Jr. would not be staying on the series due to his commitment to Happy Endings. But when Lamorne Morris (@LamorneMorris) joined as Winston, Nick’s old friend who had been in Latvia playing basketball for the past few years… well, I fell in love with him instantly. And truly, at the end of “Kryptonite,” I KNEW he was a special character because of how he put on a woman’s hat and stepped up to defend Jess, a woman he barely knew. And Winston just got better from that point.

My collaboration buddy, partner-in-crime, and basically soul mate Jaime and I decided that we wanted to do something together and I suggested character appreciation posts! There are so many wonderful characters on television that we don’t get a chance to celebrate as often as we should (nor do we get a chance to really celebrate the actors and actresses who portray them), so we thought this would be a great way to put our heads together and come up with some of our favorite moments that showcase some of the best characters on television. These aren’t necessarily all characters who are underappreciated, though. I think the whole point of the character appreciation series is just going to be to APPRECIATE various characters on shows who deserve our appreciation. Sounds like a plan, no?

Then let’s look at the vast array of Winston Bishop moments that both Jaime and I love, shall we?

Friday, February 15, 2013

4x02 "Paranormal Parentage" (Ghosts of the Living)


"Paranormal Parentage"
Original Airdate: February 14, 2013

There are some episodes of Community where I think that Pierce and Jeff could not, in any universe whether parallel or present, be similar. After all, the elderly man is racist and brash and unforgiving a lot of the time. Jeff, while selfish and vain and egotistical, is also driven to do the right thing when it comes down to it. But then there are moments – usually flickering ones and sometimes entire episodes – where I realize exactly how Pierce and Jeff have been constructed similarly since the pilot episode. Jeff has been fighting this notion for just as long, too. He continues to insist that he is nothing like Pierce, much like he insisted that he detested Greendale and desired only to return to his former life. But Jeff and Pierce are more alike than any two characters on this series, frankly. They’re prideful and stubborn. They both have issues with their fathers. They both insist that they’re better off alone, but both are the worst versions of themselves when they are. Both need to be needed and want to be wanted and find it hard to find people who will accept them in spite of all of their flaws. But both have changed and both have grown. And even though they are STILL growing, both characters have learned that sometimes moving forward requires the sacrificing of vices once held onto tightly. By the end of the episode, Jeff learns to admit that he may not be as stable as he insists, while Pierce realizes he may not always feel needed by the study group but there ARE people who need him, genuinely, and that’s beautiful.

Oh yeah, and it’s Halloween and stuff.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My "Community" Testimonial



When you give an English major word limits, fun things happen. When you tell me to sum something up in 250 words or less, what I really hear is: “I challenge you to write your feelings in EXACTLY 250 words!” I’ll be honest – I was pretty disheartened about the fact that I couldn’t afford to take off work or drop money on a plane ticket and hotel to spend time across the country at the first ever Community fan convention. So many of my beautiful, wonderful friends were planning to attend and it broke my heart to know that I would be away from them. But then Kim, my beautiful tropical fish, informed me during our daily GChat (we’re productive workers, y’all) that those absent from CommuniCon might still have the opportunity to be heard during a fan testimonial segment. I struggled over what to write for a while.

How do you sum up your friendships, your memories, your joy, your frustrations about a series and all it’s gone through in a few paragraphs? How could I convey the utter joy that has been brought to my life thanks to so many amazing and wonderful people and their kind words and gracious friendships? Was there a way to express my overwhelming gratitude to a creator who read my writing? To a cast who tweets encouragement and support? To writers who make us laugh and who answer our questions and who show us love? Was it even possible, even for me?

The truth, really, is this: you all have changed my life, whether you know it or not. Jaime has become an even closer friend to me (and just when I thought it was impossible to love her any more than I had before!). I have gotten the opportunity to know the amazing woman I’m proud to call one of my close friends, Kim. Then there are people like Shannon, Shanleigh, Kerry, Mary, Chelsea, and Becca – women who make me smile, encourage me, and fill my Twitter timeline with bright things. There are people like Clinton and Mark who are always so incredibly encouraging, especially when I need it. There are superstars like Gillian, Catherine, Sarah, and Jen who lead our fandom into beautiful and wonderful things. There are great people like Sage, Michelle, Kate, Phoebe, Shawn, Jessica, Moff, etc. etc. etc. who I would not be the same without. I just… don’t know how to even formulate sentences that express how much I care about y’all. And I know it sounds silly to say that a television show has done this and I know people might think I’m crazy because I have a horde of Twitter friends who I’ve never actually met in real life but… I don’t care. Maybe I AM crazy but I’d never want to be anything else.

So below is what I came up with and what you heard if you attended CommuniCon today. It’s the most apt way to sum up my ~feels in exactly 250 words. And if I can’t say it today, when can I say it? I love you guys. Whether this is the last season, whether we get six seasons and a movie, or whether we finally meet eight years from now on the Hawthorne Wipe-Out water ride at the Community theme park, know this: you always have been and always will be special to me.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a “community” as… 
You didn’t think I would actually open with that, did you? I’ll attempt not to get too sentimental as I discuss my love for “Community,” but the truth is that I probably will anyway. I cannot help it, frankly, because this show has stolen a bit of my heart. And that bit is something I don’t intend on trying to get back. Because “Community” has done more for me as a writer and person than any show, ever.
These amazing people here – Kim, Shannon, Mary, Shanleigh, Catherine, etc. – and many more not in attendance have truly touched my life. That’s what “Community” has done – it has become an extension of itself, creating bonds between people who would have never been friends otherwise. I cannot properly articulate how this show has spurred me on. How I feel honored, really, to be able to blog and tweet about it. Because no matter what happens, “Community” is OURS – this little, seemingly insignificant show that no other network or the elusive Nielsen unicorn cares about? We do.
To Dan Harmon, to the brilliantly talented writers, actors, and producers who have spent months and years of their lives making this show – please just know this: it was worth it. And there’s a line in the musical Wicked that has always resonated with me: “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” 
I have. I’ve been changed.

Friday, February 8, 2013

4x01 "History 101" (Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes)


"History 101"
Original Airdate: February 7, 2013

I’ll be completely and utterly honest for a moment, if that’s okay.

I hate change.

No, really, when people say that they “hate” change, it’s usually quite hyperbolic. I actually detest change. And I think, more than anything, change scares me. I am quite a planner – I like to have things organized, I enjoy using post-it notes, and yes, occasionally I like to color code spreadsheets. I’m meticulous and organized and I like my life to be the same way. Here’s the problem with that: life is not predictable, nor is it stagnant. For those of you who are anything like me, chances are that you love the IDEA of change more than actually changing. Where some people would feel nothing but excitement at the prospect of moving to a new state or switching careers, I feel the same excitement momentarily and then… a swell of panic rises in my chest.

Who will I eat lunch with? Will I make new friends? I’ll have to switch churches and find a new grocery store and –

See how easily my excitement is overshadowed by fear? A lot of bad things happen, I have learned, whenever you base a decision on fear. You cannot live your life properly if you’re attempting to stay in the present and never move forward. And sure, it’s scary. It’s different. It’s not easy. But you’ll never truly live unless you learn to change.

With those words in mind, I found myself relating quite a bit to Abed this week. And I’ll be honest – I was surprised. I don’t normally relate to the filmmaker, but his desire to stay in his “happy place” (a physical manifestation we saw throughout the episode, but also known by its pen name – “the comfort zone”) resonated with me. We may have laughed at the absurdity of a multi-camera, laugh-track doused sitcom or a children’s show about talking babies but the truth is that we ALL have those places in our lives. Come on – whenever those of us who are a bit shy attend a party, we tend to bring along our outgoing friends. And we stick with them the entire night because to venture outside of our – wait for it – comfort zone or our “happy place” would be scary. That’s why we always seek to find familiar faces in crowds whenever we attend events. It’s not because we’re dependent on anyone else for our self-worth or acceptance, necessarily – we just LIKE familiarity. And it’s okay to like familiarity and comfort.

And I think one of the biggest things that people missed – those peoples’ opinions I perused when reading through Tumblr, anyway – most about “History 101” was that it was not mocking those who are uncomfortable with change. It was not belittling the audience or preaching to them. It was a meta episode in that yes, of course, it addressed the scariness of change and the inability sometimes to reconcile with things that are new. But here is something to remind everyone reading this blog-review currently: things WILL be different this season of Community. Have you ever moved to a new place, be it school, work, or a new state? I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida when I was in 8th grade and I hated my life for the first month. I talked on AIM (anyone else remember good ‘ol instant messaging days?) with the friends that were still up north. I longed to speak with them and they would send me pictures and you know what I discovered?

Life moved on.

I was kind of floored, actually, because that meant I had a choice – I could choose to live in the past, to drown myself in photos and memories of friends who were wonderful people but who were not a part of my daily life anymore… OR I could choose to accept that I had wonderful memories with them, keep in contact if possible, and make new friends. I chose the latter and haven’t regretted it since. And so, dear readers, know that Dan Harmon is not a part of this show anymore. If you feel something different and notice that things look different and perhaps become irate and huff and cross your arms over your chest in bitterness, lamenting the “good ‘ol days” when Harmon ran the show… you will forever be disappointed. Your lenses are tinted and you’ll never look at the show the same way again. And, I hate to say it, you’ll probably stop watching a perfectly wonderful show because you cannot detach yourself from what was and move forward to what’s to come.

But enough preaching from me, eh? How about I discuss this episode and why I really enjoyed it as a season premiere! “History 101” was written by one of the coolest people you’ll ever not-really-meet-but-meet on Twitter, Andy Bobrow (@abobrow). Go and thank him for the episode, why don’t you? So in case you were too busy laughing or sulking in order to remember what the plot of this episode actually was, let me fill you in: it’s a new semester at Greendale, but it’s more important than that – it’s the study group’s first day of their LAST year of college. Everyone is processing this development differently, and no one is thinking about it more than Abed. While the film student struggles to come to grips with the fact that the group’s time at Greendale is dwindling, he heeds Britta’s suggestion to find a “happy place” within his mind. That place, as it turns out, is an Abed-directed sitcom about the study group and their lives. In it, there’s a laugh track, which… is a joke I don’t think many people actually understood, let alone appreciated beyond its face value.

Panicked over the loss of Dan Harmon at the helm of Community, many viewers feared the show would turn into something completely different. Why they all believed that the NBC sitcom would change its entire formula and vision when all of the actors and vast majority of the writers stayed aboard is beyond me… anyway, the biggest (irrational) fear was that Community would somehow become a multi-camera sitcom, a la The Big Bang Theory. It was a genius move, then, to poke fun of this fear in Abed’s “happy place.”

But the joke was much more than that, readers. The entire vision in Abed’s head really reminded me of the Scrubs episode “My Life in Four Cameras,” where – to escape the pain of reality – J.D. imagines what his life would be like if it were a sitcom. At the end of the “episode” within his mind, everyone is happy – patients live, no one fights, and no one is fired… until that sitcom world begins to crack and reality bleeds through. J.D. is startled from this fictional Eden by realizing that he constructed the idea of a sitcom – this place where there are laugh tracks and exaggerated characters but where everything is happy and resolved at the end – because he wishes reality was reflective of that.

Similarly, Abed’s construction of a laugh-track soaked sitcom isn’t just a tongue-in-cheek meta reference to Community’s Harmon-less next era. It’s a commentary on how Abed’s perfect world would be. Because television, as Abed said once, makes sense. It has logic. It has structure. People laugh when there are jokes and things get resolved at the end of episodes, and no one is unhappy, and if they are, well… it’s not for very long and it’s not dramatic. Sitcoms are perfect world to escape to. And escape, Abed does.

(As the opening credits roll, we see what we would see in a traditional sitcom – snippets of hijinks, where there’s “nothing but laughs and smiles… and then we re-run!” I think that Abed’s sitcom is just as important to focus on throughout the episode as the main plot, because this “happy place” reveals a lot about where Abed’s security still lies – namely, in the fact that he wants everyone to be happy and together. Also, the vast majority of the moments in the opening credits of Abed’s sitcom are ones that have already occurred – moments he reminds himself of and wants the study group to remain forever in, such as paintball, “Cooperative Calligraphy” and “Introduction to Finality.” Troy is even wearing the jacket he did at the beginning of the series. Abed doesn’t like endings and he doesn’t like change, so he’s choosing to remember his friends as they once were, not as they are currently.)

The group, sans Jeff, meets at Greendale and hugs, excited to take History of Ice Cream together and to begin an entirely new (and final) year at Greendale. The finality bit scares Abed, but he internalizes all of his fears this episode, so the group fails to notice. Annie decides to attempt loosey-goosey-ness again (remember how well that worked for her last season?) and she and Shirley vow to pull a prank together. Upon walking to class, the group notices a crowd of students outside. As it turns out, the class was overbooked and is only available on a first come, first served basis.

Luckily for the group, Jeff has already saved everyone seats (Britta and Annie are surprised, and the latter remains skeptical most of the episode of Jeff’s true motivations, but praises his “new Jeff” behavior). Meanwhile, Troy and Britta hold hands as they walk to their seats, which I found insanely adorable. But, I’m digressing.

Dean Pelton enters the room and informs the group that someone hacked into the registration system and printed out fake History of Ice Cream admissions tickets. Everyone is aghast – what does it MEAN? The dean then decides that there is only ONE possible way to solve the overcrowded class crisis, and that is by having those who wish to earn a spot in the class participate in “The Hunger Deans” which is a Hunger Games-style contest, involving 35 different tests of strength and agility. The winner of each test receives an admission ticket into the class. The group, rightfully so, takes one look at the challenge and decides to bail.

It’s Jeff, ironically, who insists that they participate and take the class together. When Annie points out that they can just take another history class next semester, Jeff drops a bomb – he’s graduating early and is only a history credit shy of being able to leave Greendale. The entire study group is stunned and hurt that Jeff didn’t tell them he had taken extra classes. But the former lawyer doesn’t want to take a history class without the group. In an interesting turn of events, however, the study group doesn’t FORCE the man to take the class together.

What’s interesting, really, is that JEFF is the one to insist that he’s changed. Annie chastises him for being selfish – he, she says, only wanted the group to take the class with him so that he could feel better about leaving early. The former lawyer tells her that “new Jeff” isn’t selfish. In fact, to prove it to her and to the group, he’s decided to win seven spots in the class for them all. And I really love this character development in Jeff. Sure, in “Biology 101,” we saw Jeff Winger have somewhat of a mental breakdown over not being in a class with the study group. But that was fueled by his own insecurities and jealousies over the group letting Pierce back in (and seemingly ruining Jeff’s year).

This time, however, Jeff is determined to be with the group simply because he wants to be with them. He knows their time at Greendale is limited – “[their] time [at Greendale] can’t last forever,” he yells after Annie. So Jeff vows to make his time count, which is actually something pretty mature and wonderful about this self-proclaimed new version of himself. Sure, his motives are still partly selfish (he wants to win a seat in class so HE can graduate early), but they’re also selfless (he doesn’t want to win the aforementioned seat unless everyone else takes the class with him). There’s always been a dichotomy of selfish selflessness about Jeff Winger and it’s never more evident than in “History 101.”

(I also love that Jeff prepared a Winger speech to tell them that he was graduating early.)

Meanwhile, in Abed’s mind, the filmmaker is writing his own version of the futures of the Greendale Seven – due to a mistake in the community college’s system, the group will have to spend the next three years repeating their time at Greendale. Of course, in Abed’s mind, this is the most comforting conclusion: when on the precipice of change, the best thing to do is step away and hit the reset button. Change does more than scare Abed, though – it paralyzes him. The most comforting notion, then, is to never have anything change. That is his happy place. And that is where he decides it is best to stay, forever.

In the cafeteria, Jeff is attempting to win seven balls, which serve as admission tickets to History of Ice Cream. Unfortunately, a vast majority of the student population stands in his way, including Annie Kim and Leonard (both of whom he takes down to get his admission prize). Elsewhere in the school, Annie and Shirley are attempting to pull a senior prank, but the perky brunette’s ideas are falling a bit flat with Shirley. The mother of three then suggests they put popcorn in Dean Pelton’s car and the two set off to do just that. I really like the Shirley/Annie dynamic and wish we had more episodes with them. Shirley humors Annie in a lot of ways, but also teaches her. And Annie? Well, we learn that Annie is just as insecure about graduation as anyone else. In fact, she’s beginning to second-guess her entire life (again), talking to Shirley with dread and anxiety about a life that she has yet to start.

Elsewhere on campus, we learn that Troy and Abed’s first day of school tradition is to throw pennies into the campus fountain and make wishes. Since Abed is watching “The Hunger Deans” unfold, Troy invites Britta and the two begin to cast coins into the fountain and make wishes. Except… well, Britta is doing it wrong. To amend for her “incorrect” wishes, the blonde climbs into the fountain to retrieve her coins, which incites panic and bewilderment in Troy and the two hilariously argue while alternately throwing coins in and back out of the fountain.

I really do love the Troy/Britta dynamic because it’s unexpected and flawed and wonderful BECAUSE of that. These two do not always get along. They’ll be the couple who argues over which cereal to buy or how to potty-train their child or which route is quicker. But the reason I love them is because Troy cares so obviously for Britta and she causes him to mature, while he causes her to loosen up a bit. They balance one another out well comedically and emotionally. And that’s what I’ll say about that!

Jeff continues to win balls for the study group and runs into the dean’s office, specifically to tell Annie that he won one for her and will continue to win them for the rest of the group. Annie doesn’t appear very amused or excited, however. I think that she’s become less and less apt to trust Jeff whenever he tells her things and makes promises, which is pretty interesting. Sure, I still believe that she harbors feelings for him, but… she doesn’t seem to be the doe-eyed and na├»ve girl in “History 101” that she was merely two years ago in “Anthropology 101.” Annie’s grown quite a bit and perhaps it’s her own insecurities about her future that are hardening her heart and mind right now, but, whatever it is… she wasn’t too thrilled with Jeff the entire episode. Or perhaps she is trying her best to wall herself off BECAUSE she knows Jeff is leaving and she is too – that feeling anger and bitterness toward Jeff is better and easier than feeling SOMETHING for him without a chance of it coming to fruition.

Again, digression. Sorry!

Jeff’s commitment to the study group reaches new heights when he enters into the tango portion of the competition with Dean Pelton as his partner. During their dance, Jeff drops a bit of a bombshell on the dean – Jeff believes the dean was the one to forge the History of Ice Cream admission tickets once he realized Jeff was graduating. Though he denies it at first, Dean Pelton eventually admits that this is true, and he wanted Jeff to stay at Greendale likely just as much as Abed wants to keep the group together. Once the dance contest concludes (and Jeff puts some suave moves on Dean Pelton to ensure he wins the last admission ticket), Jeff sidles up to the table where Abed and Pierce are (did I mention Pierce is in this episode? He totally is!) to boast about how he’s so close to getting their last seat in class.

Abed’s happy place begins to crumble and, much like Inception, the filmmaker travels within his happy place to ANOTHER level of happiness in which he imagines all of the Greendale Seven as cartoon babies (watch what each of them are doing in the scene – it’s pretty hilarious!). When the study group returns to the games and realizes that Abed is fracturing, they all band together and hold hands, hopeful that somehow the connection will get through to Abed. The only one who is left on the outside, however, is Jeff. Annie allows him to leave so that he can finish the games and win the last seat. (It’s important to note, however, that Jeff looks guilty and remorseful as he leaves the table. He may have desired to graduate early and wanted to do so with the study group and with them alone, but what he wants in that scene more than graduation and returning to his life as a lawyer is to stand around and help Abed any way he can. And he does move toward the table to do just that. In fact, he muses that he hates “new Jeff” – this version of himself that isn’t OUT for himself only.)

I think the most important thing to note in this episode is the non-Winger, Winger speech. Jeff doesn’t provide any words of wisdom – not really. Abed actually ends up inadvertently saving himself. How? Because he speaks things into his own mind and heart that he knows to be true. He knows that his friends will always be there for him, even if they’re not physically there for him. But it’s not Jeff’s words that help him come to this realization – it’s his OWN. Abed isn’t crazy, nor is he locked in his own mind with no way out. Yes, he hates change. And yes, he finds it difficult to function when change is necessitated. But he KNOWS what the truth is and has to remind himself of it. And alternate!Winger’s/Abed’s speech focuses on how the world outside of Greendale is scary, and that change itself is scary. But what’s also important to remember is that the group has ALREADY changed – they, themselves, have changed over the course of four years together. It’s not as jarring as the bigger change of leaving Greendale, but they HAVE changed no less. And they’ve changed each other through their friendship. That change was scary too, but the results were worth the fear it took to get there.

In Abed’s mind, Jeff affirms the notion that even when they’re not together someday, they’ll ALWAYS be together. It’s something that really resonated with me and resonates with a lot of people who have moved on from friends in their lives. It strikes Abed, and causes him to emerge from his catatonic state, where he relates this revelation to the rest of the group. He tells Annie that she should take some forensics courses, as alternate!Annie had decided to do that (which I assume will be an important plot point coming up this season).

At the end of the scene, Jeff attempts to begin a speech – one that he’s likely practiced and involves a metaphor of ice cream – but Abed stops him from completing his sentence. He’s fine, he insists, because he realizes that what the Jeff Winger in his mind (also known as himself) said was true. It wasn’t Jeff Winger who saved Abed from himself. Abed had the power and ability to do it all along, without the former lawyer even uttering a word.

Abed is like all of us – scared, anxious, and afraid of change. Nothing confirms this notion than reading through tweets and Tumblr posts about how disappointed people were with “History 101” because it felt “off” or “different” or “weird” or “not the same.” None of those are adequate phrases to describe a problem. Merely, they’re our way of conveying how changes make us FEEL. When something is new, it’s perfectly acceptable to feel uncomfortable. But try looking at this season of Community from a fresh lens. Don’t look at it as a post-Harmon anything. As soon as you begin to wallow too much in “Harmon is gone and things are not the same,” you’ll find yourself able to nitpick and pinpoint perceived flaws or holes. Your viewing experience will turn sour and you’ll disappoint yourself and those fans around you. Yes, this season premiere felt a bit different to me but that’s because it was SUPPOSED to. When someone as integral as Harmon leaves (and takes his narrative voice with him), things will not be the same. Things will HAVE to change.

(If you’re still absolutely and completely certain that “History 101” flopped… re-watch the episode. Since starting these blog-reviews I have watched each episode at LEAST twice before writing a review and it honestly will change your perspective if you do. So please do that before going off on rants about how this season is terrible and different, etc.)

And let’s take a leaf from Abed’s book and remember that change is a part of all of our lives. We don’t have to accept it, certainly, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And it definitely doesn’t mean that things return to the way they were. The best thing to do is accept the past for what it was and look toward the future with anticipation.

I know I am.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
- “Congratulations. It’s me.” I feel like Joel should just enter every room this way.
- “They overbooked it so it’s first come, first served now.” “Just like real ice cream!”
- Momentary Jeff Winger in glasses? I approve of this. Let’s have a repeat performance soon, shall we?
- “Don’t you read Garrett’s Twitter feed? He posted a crisis alert about it.”
- “Jeff, you’re graduating early?” “Well, graduating after 30 can’t be characterized as ‘early.’”
- “Oh my God, there are SO many levels to this!”Can I request more Shirley/Annie shenanigans, please?
- “I don’t think anyone’s gonna miss wars!” “Uh, Star Wars. Thumb wars, wow… Storage Wars!”
- “This… isn’t a conversation… is it?”
- “The fountain works!”
- “Guys, I have something to say.” “Yay, like always!”
- Unpopular opinion: I’m not looking forward to Chang’s arc. But then again, I’m not really a fan of Chang to begin with.
- I love that the tag was essentially making fun of the short-lived and terrible comedy Work It.
- I’m really loving the fact that Dean Pelton moved next door to Jeff.
- "You smell like the floor of a movie theater." "Yeah, but not for the usual reasons."

It’s good to be home, y’all! Join me next week as I review our Halloween episode “Paranormal Parentage,” which is written by the ever-so-talented Megan Ganz and features the study group at Pierce’s mansion.

Until then, folks! :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

#7DaysofCommunity - BONUS POST!



All good things must come to an end. Of course, it could also be argued that all bad things must come to an end as well, which is why today we are celebrating the end of a very long and very dark hiatus. That’s right, friends – in case you have lived under a rock for the past few months and aren’t aware – we all know that Community is returning to NBC tonight. Yes, we’re finally coming home to Greendale after our summer breaks (did it feel like summer just went on forever for anyone else?) and rejoining the Greendale Seven as they navigate through their senior year of college. There will be a lot of changes for our study group and our show this year, but – as Abed reminded us – we’re all together, which makes THIS the perfect timeline.

I wish I could put into words how much you all mean to me and how much this show has done for me. I wish there was some great gesture that I could perform that would make my appreciation abundantly clear. Even as a writer, sitting here, I am struggling to come up with adequate words to describe this show’s impact on my life. And it seems really trite and silly to most people when I explain how much Community has impacted me. It’s a television show, after all, they’d argue. But I have met so many amazing and wonderful people because of this show. And they’ve gone from being just people I live-tweet with or joke with to people who have woven their way into the fabric of my life. These are people I celebrate with, talk to on a daily basis… people who I vent to and cry to and laugh with. We’ve become an extension of Community in that we have BECOME a community. We all have different religious beliefs. We all look different. We all come from different familial backgrounds. Some of us are broken emotionally. Some of us have hurts and hang-ups and scars we don’t even want to talk about. Some of us feel like no one out there knows how we feel.

But we’re together. We help each other. We BETTER each other. We encourage one another, and yes, we do this with people we haven’t even met in person. Isn’t that just brilliant and beautiful? Here we are, complete strangers for all intents and purposes, but so deeply and emotionally connected that we go through life together. And yes, sometimes we fight. No, not everyone is close to EVERYONE else. We don’t agree on our favorite episodes or characters or pairings or seasons or writers. Some people blog about the show, some people tweet, some write fanfiction or draw art or write music or make videos.

And the most wonderful thing about it all? We’re doing it TOGETHER. And we’re doing it because of an idea a bunch of actors, writers, producers, and directors got together and brought to fruition. We’re doing it because Community IS our community.

But enough sentiment and sap, right? Let’s get to my extra-special bonus round of #7DaysofCommunity! One of the greatest people in the entire world, my writing partner and partner-in-crime and basically other half, Jaime, suggested something really challenging today for my question. What was it? Click and you’ll find out!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

#7DaysofCommunity - Day 7



Earlier this week, I discussed one of my favorite non-Troy/Abed duos on Community. It does seem only fitting, of course, that I would discuss Troy and Abed at some point during this countdown. And never fear – that day is today!

What I really love about the Troy/Abed pairing (and, subsequently what happened with Jeff and Annie as a pairing) was that it was never supposed to happen. Pierce and Troy were supposed to be the budding bromance. And you can tell, in the pilot episode especially, that the writers and Harmon were planning to stay on course with that plan. But I love that when they noticed the chemistry between Donald Glover and Danny Pudi, they began to rethink their original plan. It would have been easy to try and force the Pierce/Troy friendship to work. After all, that was what was SUPPOSED to happen. The two were so similar in humor and worldviews in the pilot episode, after all. It was a wonderful, beautiful bold move to develop the bond between Troy and Abed. Similarly, when the writers noticed chemistry between Joel McHale and Alison Brie’s characters, they began to develop the Jeff/Annie dynamic more.

To be frank, for a relationship on television to engage viewers and keep them interested, there has to be an element of chemistry. I discussed romantic chemistry before in my posts, but a strong dynamic of comradery between characters is just as important, if not more so. I was asked a question today about the Troy/Abed dynamic, so let’s check out the question and my response, shall we?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

#7DaysofCommunity - Day 6



Dan Harmon always said that his show was not a romantic show. That’s not to say, of course, that the show does not focus on romance in some aspect or another. But let’s be honest – Community is no Grey’s Anatomy. Romantic relationships, while always important, are not an integral part of the sitcom. What has intrigued me, however, is how they have played with and built up certain relationships over the course of three seasons, only to utilize them to develop individual characters more. What began as a show about Jeff pursuing Britta has become one about how six relationships can change a person’s heart and life.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Community refuses to focus on romantic couples or moments. Arguably some of the most emotionally heightened moments in the show take place between couples with a romantic interest or history together. Today’s post was probably the most difficult one to answer (and trust me when I say that, even as you read this, I’m STILL second-guessing myself!), but I was asked to focus on one romantic pairing in particular.

Who will I be talking about? Check below the cut and find out!


Monday, February 4, 2013

#7DaysofCommunity - Day 5



Each character on Community brings something special to the show. Think about it for a moment, would you? The little-comedy-that-could would just not have the same dynamic if there was no Britta Perry to be a buzzkill, or Annie Edison to help everyone pass their classes. Something would feel off if Pierce wasn’t present to make his brash, but always honest comments, or if Abed wasn’t there to provide rationality and balance. What would the series be if Troy didn’t have his fabulous one-liners, if Shirley wasn’t present to humble everyone, or if – God forbid – Jeff wasn’t there to set them right with a Winger speech?

But what’s great about Community as an ensemble series and as a series in general is that there are plenty of supporting-turned-important characters that make the series what it is. Thinking back to one of my favorite comedies ever, Friends, I have to ponder what the series would be like without Gunther. A character that originally started out playing a minimal role in the series ended up stealing nearly all of our hearts with his unrequited love for Rachel Green and hilarious subsequent hatred of Ross (or any other guy she was interested in).

Similarly, Community has characters like Leonard, Vicki, Starburns, (Fat) Neil, Quendra, Magnitude, Todd, Rich, Asian Annie, etc. who have made the series feel more complete – more whole, if you will. There is still the tongue-in-cheek joke that everything revolves around the seven study group members, but there is also an emphasis on fleshing out each of these minor characters.

And there is one character, in particular, that I was asked about in a question today. Who is it? Click below the cut to find out!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

#7DaysofCommunity - Day 4



What I love about Community is that it is an ensemble-driven comedy. Sure, Jeff Winger is the head of the study group, but this show isn’t about one person. Not really, anyway. This show, much like Friends, is – at its core – about a group relationship between seven individuals. But what’s great about ensemble shows is this: you are left with a plethora of possible pairings that can be explored throughout the series. As I’ve mentioned before, Community has a number of go-to pairings (Troy/Abed, Britta/Shirley, etc.), as many ensemble shows do.

But what I love more than anything is when Community explores pairings that aren’t typically given screen time throughout the series. Even though I love the ensemble aspect (and my first and forever OTP will Study Group x Study Group) of this show, today’s question focuses on an individual pairing within the comedy.

So what pairing have I written about? Click below the cut for today’s question and answer! :)


Friday, February 1, 2013

#7DaysofCommunity - Day 3


There are a few things that are constants in the realm of Community – a few solid, consistent truths that we can always rely on. In fact, Abed mentions a few of these character-related truths in “Remedial Chaos Theory.” The audience (and characters, for that matter) can always count on Annie Edison to be driven and determined. It is who she is as a person. We can always count on Shirley to be kind and giving. We know that Troy will do anything for his friends. We understand that Pierce will be the one member to make the most offensive, offhanded comments and jokes. Abed will always be the most perceptive, Jeff will continue to try and protect his friends… but also himself. And Britta? Well, Britta is a toss-up.

But we won’t be talking about character development and growth in today’s #7DaysofCommunity celebration. At least, not specifically. There is another aspect of Community that, in its consistency, has become a familiarity and an expectation throughout the series. What exactly is this constant variable? Click below the cut to continue!



#7DaysofCommunity - Day 2



Welcome to #7DaysofCommunity, Day 2! I’m really glad that you all seemed to enjoy yesterday’s post. In case you missed it, you can find it by clicking this pretty link. :) And, in case you are new to this blog, you should know that every Friday I post my blog-reviews of the episodes of Community. And when I say blog-reviews, what I really mean are analyses (at least, that’s what they have been dubbed). I thoroughly enjoy taking 3,000 words’ worth of notes every Thursday night and staying up a bit late just so I can analyze the episode that aired.

But enough about the blog-reviews (which you should definitely check out, I mean I’m just saying…); let’s move onto our question and answer of the day, shall we? Click below the cut to see what Community-related question I was asked today and what my response is.