Community: Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations
by Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)
One of the reasons that attracted me to Community was the true meaning behind each episode and how it related to our regular lives. In this oddly timed Thanksgiving episode, we are reminded that no matter how often people (especially family) drive us nuts, we still need to do our best to love them despite the flaws and errors of their ways. Sadly, I wish I could say the same for this episode, although there were a few redeeming qualities.
Perhaps the biggest revelation this episode was Winger finally meeting his father and the somewhat disappointing outcome of the matter. In addition to meeting his father, Winger meets his brother, Willam Jr., who is constantly seeking his father’s approval and fears he will be replaced in life. I was really hoping for William Winger Sr. to be a polar opposite of his eldest son that I wasn’t sure how to handle him being exactly like Jeff.
It was nice to see father and oldest son reunite just because we have been teased about this for a while now. I personally thought it could have been better executed, but I will retract all statements if something even bigger happens between the two later down the road. Jeff finally releases himself from his father’s approval by stating everything he despises his dad for. I could see Winger Sr. returning to Greendale Community College either as a student for whatever reason or as some type of employee, trying desperately to reconnect with his other son. Bottom line, the confrontation between the two was a bit of a let-down even with Britta interjection as a pseudo-psychiatrist on occasion.
Meanwhile, the rest of the study group has been invited to Shirley’s house for Thanksgiving dinner in hopes that they can provide some relief from her family. Almost upon arrival, the group decides that Shirley’s family (mostly compiled of her husband’s side) is too much to handle and devise a way to escape and salvage their holiday. At this point, Abed has entered his own world and begins narrating everything similar to Shawshank Redemption.
My biggest disappointment here was not seeing exactly how Shirley’s family and extended family were behaving, which I believe would have been an interesting element to the story. I wasn’t too thrilled that Abed was pushed more as a narrator than an actual character and I definitely feel that Pierce could have played a bigger role in the escape. I mentioned last week that I really enjoy when the study group is together as opposed to separated mainly due to the lack of screen time each character gets. Here, Annie was almost a non-factor (which is a crime in my book) and Troy was reduced to a one-line wonder throughout the episode.
So far this season, I haven’t really been able to quite define the correct emotion for this show. I really enjoyed last week’s episode and found some enjoyment in the Halloween special, but outside of those it’s been somewhat slow this season. Granted, Community has tons of potential with the wacky nature of some episodes and I would be incompetent to say that I’m not looking forward to future episodes from here. While I wasn’t a huge fan of this episode, I felt that there were a few highlighting moments that at least made it watchable.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars