While we’re stuck taking classes from home, Brian Gu and Christina Huang take us to a different sort of education.
Now that we’re all stuck at home with little to no interest in being productive at all, Netflix has picked the perfect time to polish up (what I’ve always regrettably called) their B-rate library, adding home-runs such as Modern Family and Tiger King to their collection. Among this category is Community, a NBC sitcom that aired early last decade, and never quite reached the pinnacles of success that other sitcoms on the network such as The Office, Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine did.
Now fast-forward to the series’ full Netflix release last month, and over a short period of time, this gem has defined itself as an unexpected phenomenon during these strange lockdown times. Packed full of memorable gags, self-referential jokes and iconic characters, five quality seasons of the show (let’s not talk about season 4) make for prime binge-viewing. Whether you’re a first-time viewer or holding out for #andamovie, I’ve enlisted the help of my friend Christina to pull together the DEAN-finitive list of our ten favourite moments from Greendale to leave you itching for more of the study group.
10. Delivering a Baby in the Background – Abed
You’d be forgiven for failing to notice Abed is absent from both the A- and B-plots of The Psychology of Letting Go, but don’t worry, he’s definitely there. Throughout the episode, eagle-eyed viewers can spot him chatting to a pregnant woman, facing some anger from her boyfriend (after all, Abed’s partially responsible given the events of Politics of Human Sexuality in season one), helping the woman when she goes into labour and finally delivering the baby in the back of a car. When asked by Shirley what he’s been up to all week near the end of the episode, he replies, “not much”.
9. The Paintball Assassin – Señor Chang
A much beloved pastime by the students and anybody but Frankie at Greendale, paintball spawned so many great episodes and moments within the show. For this list, we picked the climax of the first ever paintball episode, where Señor Chang is deployed by the Dean to assassinate Jeff and Britta, who are trapped post-sex in the study room. Making a slow-motion entrance with Chinese operatic music playing in the background, despite actor Ken Jeong being Korean, the racial ignorance coupled with the unnecessary dramatization of the encounter leaves the audience in stitches.
8. Jesus Wept – Dean Pelton
Next on our list is this moment of peak Dean-ness from the overall underappreciated Season 6. Dean Pelton loses his mind over a VR system designed by future Save Greendale Committee member Elroy Patashnik. He is immediately overwhelmed by the capabilities of ‘90s VR technology, including setting the time, time zone, and perhaps my favourite – scaling up the font size. Dean Pelton prances around in his office like a tennis player with a blindfold on, to the horror of Jeff and Frankie watching on. When his excitement becomes too much to handle, he exclaims “And Jesus wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer!”
7. Level 7 Susceptible – Dean Pelton and the (con) artist formerly known as Subway
Straight to another hilarious Season 6 episode. Advanced Safety Features contains the return of Britta’s corporate machine ex-boyfriend Subway (now Rick), who now returns as a Honda salesman. While the A-plot centres around him manipulating Britta with his love-redemption story, this episode’s peak is the Dean, who is discovered by Rick to be an unprecedented level-7 susceptible – transcending to a whole new level of susceptibility towards product placement. This culminates in one of the most hilarious still shots of the entire show, where a mortified Frankie discovers Dean Pelton in his office, in a Honda t-shirt, straddling a Honda bike, surrounded by Honda merchandise
6. “Annie’s pretty young, we try not to sexualize her.” – Jeff Winger
Scroll through any Community reddit thread or the comments section of any YouTube video featuring Alison Brie, and you are bound to see this line quoted at least once, if not at the top of your screen. With all the purposeful sexualization the Community writers place on Annie’s naive character, it’s an absolute marvel to recall this line had actually been said at one point, by Jeff Winger no less. When introducing study group candidate Buddy (guest star Jack Black) to the gang, he makes the private off-the-cuff comment that “Annie’s pretty young, we try not to sexualize her.” One thing’s for sure – this comment definitely flipped the switch for a LOT of future sexualization of Annie.
5. Troy and Abed in the Morning – Troy and Abed
As with any other sitcom, Community treasures its episode closing scenes, and from that list there is perhaps no recurring segment more outlandish yet equally heartwarming than ‘Troy and Abed in the Morning’. The morning talk show launched by the two best buds features no audience, no cameras, Garrett on weather, and tapes at obscene hours of the day. It also has an inexplicable wall of fans watching on behind the window of the study group. Despite a lineup of guests who seem genuinely pleased to be there, perpetually moody and disgruntled Jeff Winger makes the most guest appearances. Oh, it also has a killer opening jingle that you’ll never stop singing.
4. Peanut Bar Rap – Dean Pelton
An absolutely iconic moment in which the Dean, to replace paychecks, offers the study group an “apology rap”, dressed as a peanut bar costume, of course. What begins as a relatively cute, light rap quickly becomes a political breakdown of class and race in America, to the shock and horror of the gang. Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) has been upstaged by a man in a giant peanut bar costume. Then of course, in true Dean fashion, he immediately runs out of the room crying, horrified by his own genius.
3. ¿Dónde Está La Biblioteca? – Troy and Abed
In the first, and probably most memorable closing tag from the series, Troy and Abed seamlessly switch between rapping en español and beatboxing, creating a catchy song that gets stuck in your head for days. Honourable mention: Dónde Está La Biblioteca (Anthropology Remix) feat. Betty White. It’s a rap about the classification of Homo Sapiens combined with “Africa” by Toto, and it’s GLORIOUS.
2. Chloroforming the Janitor – Annie
When you combine Troy, Abed and Annie, hilarity naturally ensues. While sneaking around the office of a former-colleague-turned-rival of Jeff’s, a janitor comes in and catches them. Unable to explain, Annie chloroforms him, and they all panic. When the janitor comes to, the trio pretend to have also been mysteriously chloroformed, but unable to maintain the lie, they panic and chloroform him again. The chaos, panicked decision-making, terrible attempt at deception, and the fact that a person literally gets chloroformed not once, but twice, truly makes this a tale of substance abuse for the times.
1. Remedial Chaos Theory
If the class is Community 101, then Remedial Chaos Theory is the final exam. It’s everything great about Community. It’s a packed episode that navigates several complex character arcs and gives hidden insights into the study group members, all within the tight confines of Troy and Abed’s apartment over a game of Yahtzee. When Abed first rolls the dice to determine who picks up the pizza, it’s impossible for the audience to guess the genius of what the show proceeds to pull off; opening up six different timelines determinant on who meets the delivery guy. Perhaps the most poignant moment of the episode is where Jeff walks out to get the pizza in what Dan Harmon coins the ‘prime’ timeline; without Jeff’s reprimanding quips, the group jams along to Roxanne. When Jeff returns, he is hit with the realisation of how much his beloved study group has grown.