Community – Football, Feminism and You [1.6]

The Dean essentially blackmails Jeff into helping convince Troy play football for the school, which upsets Annie as she sees this as him no longer needing her to help him study for classes.  Meanwhile, Shirley helps Britta learn to be more caring to other women, specifically by going to the bathroom with them.  And Pierce helps the Dean design a new mascot for the Greendale team, the Human Beings. 

Written by Andrew Guest • Directed by  Joe Russo
Previous Episode:  Advanced Criminal Law • Next Episode: Introduction to Statistics

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Cast Notes
Sashi Bommakanty and Bertrand Roberson jr each appear for the first time as security guards who look like Troy and Abed.  Bill Parks, who plays the football player, will also appear a few more times in the show in different roles.  And William Love makes his debut appearance as the Greendale Human Being, a part he’ll play without credit six more times.

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Comments
Football, Feminism and You represents some much-needed steps forward for Community, as it gives Troy some great stuff to do, and really gets into the character of Annie for the first time.  She and Jeff have their first meaningful interaction (including another “Milady / Milord” interplay) and we begin to see their relationship form.  It’s an interesting moment as it’s really Annie, and not Britta, who challenges Jeff to “improve” himself.  Even though this season spends a lot of time sort of positioning Britta as the key person in Jeff’s life, the following seasons will not go that direction.

Troy also gets some amazing character stuff.  Not just the way his personality changes when he gets back into football (more on that below) but the way he suddenly reveals that his playing football is not going backward, but rather moving on with his life and accepting who he is and where he is.  It’s unexpected, but brilliant.

Shirley also has got a bit more to do this week than she has before.  She’s got a great speech when she tells off Britta:  “Listening to a story about a stranger pissing me off and taking the stranger’s side? And then you can’t talk about your own business but you insinuate my mama’s a robot because she and I want makeovers. That is the ladies room, Britta. A place where ladies go to share, listen, support each other, and discretely eliminate waste. And I like you too. I even like that you’re a little hard, but if you can’t learn to be soft in there, you need to pee alone.”  I like how this whole storyline develops her and Britta as well.

Overall, this episode nicely spreads the action out amongst the main characters, including the Dean.  Jeff, and his attraction to Britta, is just being one small part of the drama, rather than being forced into the awkward role of the “main story”.  Of course, the exception to this is Abed, who agrees early on to “lay low” for the episode.  Even that helps develop the concept of the series as he does this in such a metafictional way.

One of my favorite things about this episode is the whole spoof of political correctness  with the Dean and his development of the perfectly non-racist “Human Being” mascot.  I love the way they develop this theme, starting with the comments the Dean makes upon meeting the study group for the first time:   “Look at this group having some kind of meeting and being so diverse….boy! there is just one of every kind of you, isn’t there?” Then Pierce replies that they have everything but a pipsqueak, but they don’t want one, so the Dean should just leave.  And then later, when he and Pierce believe they’ve “solved racism”, so they decide to move on to doing something good for “little albinos.”  There’s nothing here that’s arguing for racism or anything so ridiculous, but it’s fun to see comedy that points out the absurdity of the other extreme as well.

It’s a solid episode that only feels like an “early” one because some of the the actual plot elements of the show haven’t come together completely yet (eg. Annie is still pining over Troy).  And it’s the first one when Donald Glover and Allison Brie really show us what they are capable of doing.

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Pop-Culture Connection
This time around, we get references to Phylicia Rashad, Yoko Ono, Benjamin Button, Seal, Lou Diamond Philips, Desmond Tutu, Seal and President Obama.

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Meta-Qualities
Abed talks about the classic “will they / won’t they” question regarding Jeff and Britta.  Jeff then tells him that it makes them uncomfortable when he talks about his friends in their presence as if they are characters on a TV show.  Abed replies that is sort of his thing, but that since they leaned heavily on that last week, he’ll lay low this episode.  And then he proceeds to do just that, barely appearing in the rest of the installment.

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Getting to know Greendale
Greendale has a football team, the Human Beings (formerly, the Grizzlies).  They don’t have a scoreboard in their field, though.

Nearby (next door?) to the college is a Megachurch, who use the football field for overflow parking on Sundays and Wednesdays.

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Familiar Faces
The Dean shows up again, in a main role.

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Key Developments
The Dean pays his first visit to the study group, and demonstrates his attraction to Jeff in a few small ways.

The Greendale Human Being mascot makes his first appearance.

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Observations
• Troy has a number of good “oblivious” moments.  His memory technique that he describes is a bit inane (“Dwarves hate being called midgets, and midgets are small) and he doesn’t get the connection between Mars or Milky Way bars to Astronomy.

• Abed says that Pierce and Troy are bonding through mutual adolescence, which is probably again a reference to how he sees things like a TV series.

• In this episode about the Dean over being perfectly tolerant, there are a number of funny and ironic comments that prove the show is – well, we are missing a pipsqueak, but we don’t want one, so beat it.

• I love the Dean’s argument for the team’s name:  “It was the Greendale Grizzlies but I thought that, um…Well, a lot of these students have been called animals their whole lives.”

• A hilarious exchange between Jeff and Troy as Jeff tries to convince him to be a football player again:
Jeff:  I’m saying you’re a football player. It’s in your blood.
Troy:  That’s racist.
Jeff:  Your soul.
Troy:  That’s racist.
Jeff:  Your eyes?
Troy:  That’s gay?
Jeff:  That’s homophobic.
Troy:  That’s black.
Jeff:  That’s racist.

Troy:  Damn!

• The skin color chart that the Dean is using goes from Seal to Seal’s teeth!
•  Jeff does feel bad when Annie storms away, even though he says he won’t.  That is the  thing about this show:  it pushes people to be as cynical as they can be, but it can never be  completely heartless

•  “Because I’m an 18-year-old girl and you made me cry in public.”  Funny stuff.

•  I laughed out loud when the Greendale human being arrived after Jeff said being at Greendale won’t kill him, and Annie screamed.  The whole thing was hilarious.  “Say hello to our ethnically neutral mascot, the Greendale Human Being. The costume makes it difficult for him to see. He can’t move his mouth either.”

• Chang doesn’t appear in this episode.

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Closing Tag:
Abed and Troy break into the Dean’s office to make funny announcements, before they are interrupted by security guards who look a lot like them.

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Most Inspired Moment
I love it when Troy turns into a football jerk–knocking over people’s books and stealing their drinks, etc. “I’m worth it!”  When I first saw this I was hoping that this was going to be a recurring bit, but we never really saw it again.

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Class blows. What I need to know about the universe is that I’m at the center of it!

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Previous Episode:  Advanced Criminal Law • Next Episode: Introduction to Statistics

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