Pierce’s love life has rarely been explored on “Community,” apart from some passing references to previous marriages; for a while it seemed like they were trying to set him and Shirley up but, well, that pairing has undergone a slight change (or should we say “Chang”e?  No, no we should not.)  However, this episode of “Community” is going where no man – and 7 women – have gone before, and Pierce may never be the same for it.  Also featured: fake molestation, Who’s the Boss, and Dreidels.  Read on to find out the details!

The Players:

  • Director: Joe Russo
  • Writer: Emily Cutler
  • Cast: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Allison Brie, Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong

Episode Title: “Competitive Wine Tasting”

When Jeff and Pierce attend the same wine-tasting class, they both decide to go for an attractive Asian woman who’s also enrolled – and surprisingly enough, Pierce gets her.  Even more surprisingly, he announces he’s going to marry the woman, sending Jeff into a frantic search for something wrong with his bride-to-be.  Meanwhile, Abed is taking a class on the classic TV show Who’s the Boss and is in the process of making the professor very uncomfortable, while Troy pretends he was molested in order to get Britta interested in him.

The Good:

  • Bridezilla: Unlike most of Jeff’s recent story arcs, this one actually had some depth to it… which is odd, considering that the big reveal involved (SPOILER ALERT) seduction and rivalry in the moist towelette business.  Jeff’s forced to come to terms with the facts that (a) not all women are irresistibly attracted to him and (b) sometimes people use each other and that’s OK.  The revelation that the perfect woman for Pierce is someone as crotchety and racist as he is both makes perfect sense and sets up some important character development.
  • Touched my No-No: Troy and Britta’s subplot, where he claims he was molested as a child in order to gain her sympathy (and make out with her), initially seems as by-the-numbers as sitcom plots get.  But this one veers off from the usual path at the most important point: Where he finally admits he made the whole thing up.  Instead of this confession being prompted by another character’s intervention or some sort of freak coincidence that exposed him as a fraud, Troy actually decided for himself that things had gotten out of hand and explained himself on his own terms.  It’s the kind of wonderfully subtle inversion we’ve come to expect from Community.
  • Like a Boss: As usual, Abed’s subplot provided the show’s mandatory dose of weird surrealism.  Discontented with merely studying the show, Abed sets out to discover who really is the boss – or rather, to back up his pre-existing theory that Angela Bower is indeed the boss.  It seems like a thin premise, and it would be if it wasn’t for Danny Pudi totally committing to the role.  It all pays off in the end, as the bit culminates with a dead-serious spoken-word rendition of the Who’s the Boss theme song and a really great gotcha moment.
  • Fiddler Please: It’s hard to describe the post-credits scene in this episode without making it come off as both weird and mildly racist, but here goes: Troy, in an all-African-American production of Fiddler on the Roof, repeatedly sings “It’s hard to be Jewish in Russia, yo.”  Again, like Abed’s plot it seems awfully thin, and again it only succeeds thanks to flawless execution.  Everything, from the costumes to the dancing to the sweet false beard, is perfect, but it’s the singing that really makes it hilarious.  Also: Dreidels.

The Bad:

  • Put it Together: Each of the three subplots in this week’s episode was quite good, but they never intersected in any sort of meaningful way whatsoever – in fact, Troy’s had to be put on hold in order to let Jeff’s continue.  They could easily have been from three separate, unrelated episodes with only minor editing.  While that may not seem like a huge complaint, in a show like “Community” where plot is taken very seriously and no character is shown to be either more isolated or more important that any other, having an episode where a bunch of people do their own thing separately seems like a jump back into typical sitcom territory.  And it’s clear that Community wants to be anything but a typical sitcom.

The Quotable:

  • “I dropped it after the lesson on setups.  The professor is so old…”
  • “How do you say ‘Ha ha’ in Italian?” “I’ll look it up.”
  • “I assume you have your own wine cellar.” “Pierce does, and it’s… ha-HAHH!”
  • “We don’t discuss the special gym.”
  • “That’s the first time sexism has made me hungry.”
  • “I’m afraid I may have to let her see me nude.”
  • “Form a trust circle around me on the floor.” “…a trust circle?” “It’s just a circle.”
  • “Don’t preach to me about romance, Annie.  I had a three-way in a hot-air balloon.”
  • “MY EMOTIONS!  MY EMOTIONS!”
  • “I’m an insatiable baboon in bed.” “Don’t sell yourself short.  You’re a baboon everywhere else, too.”
  • “All that matters is… our time… in the spotlight…”
  • “How about Mexican?” “How about Thai?  They’re like Chinese Mexican.” “So true.”
  • “Dreidels.”

Overall:

Great plot, interesting character development, and hilarious jokes and gags – if you’re OK with three standalone sketches instead of a more tightly-woven episode, then definitely watch this one.

Rating: 9/10

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