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

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