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Community – “Early 21st Century Romanticism”

An episode of Community like “Early 21st Century Romanticism,” as Todd Van Der Werff points out over at The AV Club, feels more season one than season two. Community of late has been so much bigger than just a college event episode like this. After all, we’ve had zombie outbreaks (that remained in continuity), claymated Christmas wonderlands and even an episode that had our characters bar hopping.

It makes you wonder what direction the show is heading in. With a title like “Community,” the characters don’t necessarily have to stay in community college. They can branch out beyond Greendale when it comes time to graduate. Or maybe they’ll all become Greendale faculty. Who knows? What is clear is that Community has become much more grandiose than episodes about a Valentine’s dance, so it’s refreshing that “Early 21st Century Romanticism” works.

Of course it works by relying on the show’s great cast of characters, breaking them up into little groups for fun little stories. Troy and Abed both ask the sexy librarian out and ask her to choose one of them to date, only to realize that what they really need is not someone for one of them, but both of them. Britta loves gloating about her lesbian friend, who is actually straight and thinks that Britta is the lesbian (this gave us a great Pierce moment in the cold open). But the most important story of the episode is probably Jeff’s accidental party.

You see, since Jeff is cool, he’s forced himself to like soccer. And since Duncan is British, he invites himself over to Jeff’s to watch a game. Jeff can’t say no, since he’s arguing with the group over what bands they like. Unsurprisingly, Chang latches on to this opportunity to try to get closer to Jeff, or maybe just to get a warm bed. But Chang brings a bunch of people, starting a party that Jeff seems to be OK with. As the party goes on, Jeff realizes just how pathetic Chang is, and invites him to stay at his place, which hopefully will provide for some classic moments in the future.

But the big moment of the night is the last shot, Pierce passed out on a park bench, alone. He’s been dealing with a pill addiction, manifested by Andy Dick, and over the past few weeks has grown increasingly antagonistic with the group. I love that Pierce has had an arc like this, from breaking his legs on the trampoline through last week’s episode. It really impresses me that despite how wacky Community is, it never comps out. There is an actual continuity to the show. Making the wait for this week’s episode even more painful.

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