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!

@cdulaney85 asked: Favorite Dean Pelton costume

Answer: Uncle Sam (From “Intro to Political Science”)

I love Dean Pelton as a character, which is really how a lot of us feel. And, quite frankly, up until “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking: Redux,” I feel like a lot of us looked at his character the same way we have the tendency to look at Troy Barnes. We often feel that the dean and Troy are silly, comedic relief characters who do absurd things in order to garner laughs and/or attention. What we don’t realize is that, at their cores, both are longing for acceptance and for success. They want to prove themselves to the world.

Take, for example, Dean Pelton’s drive and motivation (that leads him to blackmail Jeff) in “Football, Feminism and You.” Here, he asserts that he wants to prove his therapist wrong for mocking his career choice. He tries so hard to run Greendale Community College that the reason he delves into absurdity, perhaps, is because he IS trying hard. He wants his school to succeed, to be the place where students feel accepted. He wants Greendale to be their home and for them to feel like they belong. And really, if you think about it, he’s doing a fantastic job.

One of my favorite running gags is the endless parade of Dean Pelton outfits, so it was difficult to choose a particular one that stood out. I was tempted to cop out and just select the montage of outfits from “Paradigms of the Human Memory.” But, alas, if I had to narrow down my choice to just ONE memorable ensemble, I would choose the one from “Intro to Political Science” because I honestly laughed out loud when he appeared on stage wearing it.

And really, props to Jim Rash who is so dedicated to this character and show that he, week in and week out, will put on any silly or embarrassing costume that is thrown at him. THAT, my dear friends, is dedication to a character. And it’s one of the best character traits of the community college dean, really – his dedication. He is dedicated to the school, to his job, to the study group, and to his students. Greendale may be an absurd place that has five dances, paintball games that destroy a majority of the campus, and classes about baby talk and breath-holding… but it’s something that the dean is actually proud of. And it’s taken him a while to get there, really. He hid behind the fa├žade of believing Greendale to be a superior school for a long time, until it was revealed in “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking: Redux” that he actually holds some resentment and disdain for the school. In a very telling conversation with Luis Guzman, the latter informs Dean Pelton that Greendale was ultimately an extremely rewarding experience and was angry and disappointed that the dean could not see that for himself. Dean Pelton inevitably has an emotional breakdown where he acknowledges his own insecurities about running an entire school. He feels like a failure, which is something really striking that we don’t often contemplate in regards to his character.

We forget, sometimes, that Dean Pelton and Troy Barnes are alike in this way – externally, the two appear as goofballs and absurd, but at their hearts and cores, both are striving for something deeper in their lives and both are pretty broken, insecure, and deep individuals. Troy shoots off one-liners and Dean Pelton dresses in ridiculous costumes. But really and truly, they both need Greendale. And Greendale? Well, it needs them too.

Thanks to everyone who is participating in #7DaysofCommunity! We only have a few days left in this countdown, and I’m saving some of the toughest questions for last! :) Be sure to stick around tomorrow through Thursday (the premiere day will host an extra-special bonus question!) and follow the questions and answers as they’re posted.

Have a great day, you guys! And happy premiere week!


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