Whitman: “Only when we stop stopping our lives can we begin to start starting them.”
We’ve all got one: a beloved classic that we can’t stand. Mine is Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society (1989), starring Robin Williams as an educator with “an authority figure that gets mad at him for making people laugh”. I loved the film as a kid, but, one day, it occurred to me that, for a teacher, John Keating doesn’t do an awful lot of teaching, that he merely panders to his charges, and that all they’ve learnt by the time the credits roll is how to worship him. Also, the man destroys books. You know who else destroyed books? The Nazis.
I’m being facetious, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel vindicated watching Community poke fun at the character for twenty-two minutes straight: “This is no way to teach accounting!” Mind you, for all his antics about seizing the day, Professor Whitman still has the presence of mind to call Jeff out on his attempts to coast through his class and, as the metaphor goes, life in general. My favourite bit though? Whitman climbing a tree in the background as Jeff and Britta wrap up the episode.
On that subject, Britta’s “life-changing” kiss may have turned out a ploy to get Jeff a passing grade, but her platonic gesture alone speaks volumes about their growing attachment. It shows that she once again sees right through Jeff, perceiving him not as the Will E. Coyote of slackers but as a pathological cynic who can’t open up without help from a friend. To hammer the central theme with the subtlety of Pierce’s sneezes, he’s a man in desperate need of a community.
I like this version of Britta more than season two’s, though we can already sense the pushy hipster in her. In fact, she commits one of my pet offenses when confronting Abed’s dad, Gobi: using feminism to excuse racial bigotry. It’s a testament to Gillian Jacobs’ nuanced performance (and comedic timing) that I find myself so willing to forgive her character. Britta 1.0 has her shortcomings, but she’s always the first to admit them, a rare virtue in both television and real life.
Of course, the true heart of “Introduction to Film” lies in Abed and Gobi’s relationship. So far, the writers have done a masterful job balancing the humour and pathos that come with Abed’s social isolation, making sure his disorder never overshadows the character underneath. Now, the only people I’ve met with Asperger’s syndrome have been children, so I have no idea if Danny Pudi portrays autistic adulthood accurately. However, Abed, the person, certainly feels real to me.
I mean, isn’t his short film utterly tragic, insightful, and beautiful? Britta and Jeff really do act like the stereotypical mom and dad, with one underestimating his independence and the other, his need for support. Gobi has had to play both parts. As a result, he’s managed to shelter and neglect his son simultaneously. My favourite bit though? His heartfelt reaction to Abed’s production: “My son is hard to understand. If making movies can help him be understood, then I’ll pay for the class.” Very touching… Cool Abed Films!!! Badadan-badadan!
- This episode introduces Jeff’s continued quest for the ultimate blow-off class.
- The bit in which Pierce struggles with his pizza is classic Chevvy Chase.
- As a long-time dance enthusiast, I got a huge kick out of the non-sequitur krumping scene during the credits. I once tried to krump through osmosis after watching an episode of So You Think You Can Dance. I pretty much looked like Troy.
- Holy three-act structure, Batman! Troy’s diminutive sneeze storyline consists of exactly three scenes: the study group makes fun of Troy for sneezing like a girl; Pierce shares his wisdom on the communicative powers of a sneeze; Troy tests Pierce’s advice and sees that it works. The end.
Whitman: “Had I not already cried at the sunrise this morning, I would be weeping.”
Abed: “9/11 was pretty much the 9/11 of the falafel business.”
Jeff: “Interesting. I didn’t see the Iraq metaphor–”
Gobi: “What Iraq metaphor? I was talking about your speeches and her guided missiles!”
Wow, that joke was a stretch and a half!
Troy: “Then how about I pound you like a boy that didn’t come out right.”
Whitman: “I shall have a birthday cake!”
Britta: “Why are you dressed like an eighties rapist?”
Actually, Paula Poundstone was arrested for three counts of lewd acts on a minor, but the charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement. I have no idea what that means.
Jeff: “I don’t want to be your father.”
Abed: “Perfect. You already know your lines.”
Whitman: “Day seized!”