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!

@elspunko asked: Favorite line, scene, and episode for each character.

Answer: … oh boy.

Now, Jaime and I discussed this and I decided what I would do is this: I’ll choose one category above for each character and focus on that one and that one alone. Because, you know, it would take me the rest of the year to write three categories for EACH character. So as I select some of the best of the Greendale Seven, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Pierce Hawthorne
Favorite Scene: The failure speech (“Beginner Pottery”)

Jeffrey, when I was born, I got my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, both arms, and one of my ankles. Mom said that there came a point when the doctors stopped delivering me and just started laughing. I mean, if I ever let being bad at something stop me, I wouldn’t even be here. That thing some men call failure - I call living. And I'm not leaving until I've cleaned out the buffet.

Honestly, “Beginner Pottery” is probably my favorite Pierce Hawthorne episode of all time, but this quote is DEFINITELY my favorite from the eldest member of the study group. Here, he’s talking to Jeff (who has, admittedly, gone a little nuts trying to compete with Rich and discover his weakness) and giving him really good, really heartfelt advice. It is my favorite Pierce/Jeff interaction because it exemplifies how much Pierce has gone through in life and why he just keeps DOING things. He’s not afraid of failure. And Jeff, in the episode, totally and completely is afraid of being inadequate and of not measuring up to Rich’s perfection.

This speech hits the former lawyer, though, and really resonates with him. I love it so much because of the determination Pierce has. Failure, he expresses, isn’t a BAD thing – it means you’re living and you’re trying. And just because you’re bad at something doesn’t mean you STOP living. Failure, for Pierce, is something that could have easily beaten him down. But I think we forget how resilient the elderly man actually is, and I love this speech because it reminds us of that.

Shirley Bennett
Favorite Episode: “Introduction to Statistics”

There are a lot more Shirley-centric episodes that I could choose (most notably, “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism”) that center more on her character and growth and relationships with Jeff and others. I could have chosen those episodes where she shares scenes with Andre, but instead, I went with this one because of how poignant it was.

At the beginning of this episode, Shirley is excited to display her lack of “wedding ring,” noting that she’s now ready to start moving on with her life. She then becomes heavily invested, the remainder of the episode, with the Slater/Jeff/Britta triangle (which Britta insists, and I believe rightfully so, that there IS no her and Jeff to begin with and she’s okay with the former lawyer dating Slater). As she admits in Slater’s office to Britta, the reason she was projecting her own personal feelings of being jilted onto the blonde was because Andre ASKED for his ring back. Then, in a heartbreaking performance from Yvette Nicole Brown, she admits that she always hoped he’d come crawling back to her and she’d be able to kick him to the curb. Sympathetically, Britta listens to her friend and consoles her. The blonde then suggests that they go do something productive – check on Annie – to take Shirley’s mind off her heartache.

This is my favorite Shirley episode for a lot of reasons, many of which include Yvette Nicole Brown’s scene with Gillian Jacobs in Slater’s office. Everything about that moment – the pain, the regret, the irony, Britta’s sympathy – is all so palpable and real. I think a lot of times we brand Community as an “out-there” comedy. And really, it takes risks and it does things other shows would shy away from. But at its core, it’s about relationships. And the most beautiful thing is that Shirley in this episode felt REAL. Because she was hurting, but also because she grew from the pain.

Plus, I just love Shirley.

Abed Nadir
Favorite Line: I can tell life from TV, Jeff. TV makes sense. It has logic, structure, rules and likable leading men. In life we have this. … We have you. (“Anthropology 101”)

I remember watching “Anthropology 101” and thinking about how much I disliked Jeff because of his dismissive treatment of… well, EVERYONE in the episode. And then the big “reveal” scene occurred later in the episode – Annie announced that she and Jeff had kissed in “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited,” everyone was shocked, confused, and hurt. And Jeff? Well, Jeff just tried to pinpoint everything on EVERYONE else. Like I said earlier: not very likable.

And then Abed returns from where he had been planning a fake marriage for Jeff and Britta, and Jeff spits some venomous words at the film student. Honestly, up until this point, Jeff had never REALLY gotten mad at Abed. Even later in the series, when Abed’s ruse is unearthed in “Critical Film Studies,” Jeff is upset and yells, but he doesn’t seek to wound Abed like he does in the season two premiere. Here, Jeff snarks that Abed cannot tell real life from television. And that gimmick, he argues, is getting old. “It’s very ‘season one,’” he spits.

Abed, who is turning to leave the room, faces Jeff and utters the line above. And it’s one of the most telling lines in the entire series in terms of Abed’s character (minus, perhaps, the end of “Virtual Systems Analysis”), because it reminds us – and it reminds Jeff in a slap-in-the-face sort of way – that Abed is NOT a robot. Abed has feelings and yes, even people who relate a lot of their lives to television like he does know the difference between the two. Abed really looks up to Jeff in a lot of ways, I feel, and this scene sort of shot down every good notion he held. The film student knows that Jeff isn’t a television leading man – he’s flawed and selfish and sometimes just downright mean.

What’s brilliant is that you call tell from Jeff’s face that this line from Abed hurt him more than the physical punch he received from Annie. And it left both Jeff Winger and me reeling, but for me it was in the best way possible.

Troy Barnes
Favorite Episode: “Mixology Certification”

When I marathoned Community with my best friend earlier last year, we watched “Mixology Certification.” After the episode ended, she paused and said: “That didn’t seem like the same show.” Hastily, she explained how it was GOOD but it was unlike the other episodes she had watched. When I saw the episode for the first time, I agreed – this episode, centering around Troy’s 21st birthday, is one of the more somber episodes of the series. But it’s my favorite Troy episode because we, as audience members, learn to see Troy as more than just that goofy athlete who has adventures with Abed and lots of one-liners.

We saw him as an adult – as someone who completely and truly cared about his friends more than he cared about himself, his birthday, or celebrating. His friends were upset and therefore Troy was upset. We, the study group included, forget that Troy Barnes is actually an adult and he’s a lot more mature than we give him credit for. He’s idolized Jeff and Britta for being older and (he thinks) knowing more about life than he does. They give him advice at the bar on what to order. In the end, though, Troy chose the drink that meant something to him, rather than the one his friends suggested.

The entire episode is great, and the final act is something special – Troy consoling Annie, affirming that he may not have known her in high school but that he knows her NOW, knows who she is at her core. Because Troy knows his friends. I just think sometimes they don’t remember exactly who he is. But that’s okay – episodes like “Mixology Certification” serve to remind us of how wonderful he is as a person, friend, and character.

Britta Perry
Favorite Episode: “The Science of Illusion”

Britta Perry is so fabulous and endearing in this episode, that it’s intensely difficult to NOT find her likable or enjoying. In an episode that’s all about April Fool’s Day and pranks, Britta is the shining star. Determined not to be labeled as a buzzkill, the woman sets out to pull her own prank on the Spanish class but… well, the prank has unintentional deadly consequences.

I think what I love so much about this episode and, specifically, Britta in the episode is that the entire plot is centered around how she views herself and how she thinks the group views HER, consequently (a similar exploration of how Abed views the group and how he thinks they view him is seen in “Virtual Systems Analysis”). And, at the end of the episode, Britta is SO upset that she singlehandedly killed the buzz of the entire school that she just breaks down into hysterics. I’ll quote directly from my blog-review of the episode because I cannot think of a better way to express how much I love her:

Britta is upset over the fact that she has - in her mind - managed to kill the buzz of the group. Jeff softens and explains to her that she's the heart of the group. And perhaps the best way to describe Britta (in my mind, and feel free to disagree with this) is the emotional knot on their rope of friendship (yes, go with this for a moment). The only time that the group actually confronts what they've been doing throughout the episode, and more importantly WHY they've been doing it is when Britta prompts them to, unintentionally. Something that she sees as "bad" (because she's not bringing light-hearted humor to the group) is actually something that the group needs MORE than any kind of one-liner or running gag on the show. She does bring the heart, but she brings the emotion too. She makes the characters confront their actions and motives. And perhaps that's why I am under the assumption that - exterior aloofness and goofiness aside - Britta will actually make a decent therapist. She doesn't mean for the group to discover more about themselves, but she does this more aptly than Jeff does.

Annie Edison
Favorite Line: After we kissed, I waited all summer to see you. You buried me like a shameful secret. What’s the matter, Jeff? Afraid crazy Annie would go crazy for you? Well, guess what? Annie’s got a gun. (“Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”)

Annie Edison is my favorite character on Community because I can extensively relate to her. She’s an overachiever, a perfectionist, and someone who has always been dedicated in whatever she does. She’s a hopeless romantic and a bit young, and – shocker! – I’m both of those things too. One of my favorite episodes of season two, if not my favorite, is “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design.” Besides the fact that it focuses on a Jeff/Annie storyline, this particular line and scene really struck me as someone who empathizes with Annie’s character. Many people assume that Annie is a na├»ve teenager still, and treat her as such. No one accomplished this better than Jeff Winger in “Anthropology 101” where he dismissed the kiss they shared after the Tranny Dance.

When Jeff told Annie off-screen to improvise a believable speech during their conspiracy showdown with Dean Pelton, Annie’s words hit hard. She was finally able to let Jeff feel all of the anger, frustration, and disappointment that she had buried within her since the beginning of the year. And you could see, physically, the effect that Annie’s words had on Jeff. His face contorted into one of remorse and guilt for what he put Annie through (and even Dean Pelton let out a “woah”). The conspiracy adventure allowed Annie to vent all of her feelings toward Jeff TO Jeff and allowed him to understand her pain.

Annie Edison was pretty amazing in this episode, and that line will ALWAYS cut deep because of how raw, strong, and honest she was to Jeff’s face. And he knew it.

Jeff Winger
Favorite Line: It might not shock you guys to hear the real reason we had a fight today. It wasn’t about The Barenaked Ladies, although I do have some unresolved issues there. Caring about a person can be scary. Caring about six people can be a horrifying, embarrassing nightmare, at least for me. But if I can’t say it today, when can I say it? I love you guys. Oh, and Pierce? Take it from an expert – these knuckleheads are right outside your heart. Let ‘em in, before it’s too late. Happy Valentine’s Day. (“Early 21st Century Romanticism”)

Professor Ian Duncan is pretty wise when he’s not drunk. It’s true! Two of Jeff’s epiphanies have occurred because of Duncan, really (the first, of course, being in the pilot episode). We actually have the school psychologist to thank for Jeff finally opening his heart to the study group. And I love this moment – this group text that Jeff sends to his friends. I chose it as my favorite mainly because of how completely Jeff Winger it is, while still being sentimental and heartfelt. The entire Valentine’s Day episode centered around the fact that Jeff was tired of caring for the study group… well, at least that’s what he told Duncan.

The truth is this: Jeff Winger loves coming to the rescue. He says that he hates it. He’ll complain about it until the rest of the group yells and chastises him. But deep down, Jeff doesn’t like not being needed. It’s partly why he was so insecure with Rich – with the handsome doctor present, no one needed JEFF to fix things. And so, with the weight of this revelation, and the acknowledgement that the study group survived an entire night on their own without texting or calling him for back up, Jeff sends out his message.

It’s nothing earth-shattering, really. It’s a casual and insignificant to most people. But for Jeff Winger, this step in his relationship with the group was a huge one – he admitted that he loved them and that, while caring about them was difficult, it was entirely worth it. Jeff’s finest hours are usually when he sets aside his ego and sarcasm and decides to be genuine with those around him. This exchange was no exception and it truly is one of the most – if not THE most – momentous leap of growth we had seen in Jeff as a character.

And it was beautiful.

Well guys, I don’t know if anything important is happening tonight but… OH WAIT. Happy October 19th, everyone! WE FINALLY MADE IT. WE’RE FINALLY GONNA BE FINE!

Of course, be sure to stay tuned tomorrow as I will have my blog-review of “History 101” posted sometime in the morning or early afternoon. I cannot WAIT to write more reviews for you guys and cannot ever thank you enough for reading them. :) Let’s enjoy premiere night, then, shall we?



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