TV Review: "Community" 6x04: "Queer Studies And Advanced Waxing"

It's becoming increasingly difficult to review, or even appreciate, Community for what it is. I'm not sure what it even is anymore because of so much it's had to endure. I say this because I watched the fourth episode of the Yahoo! era when it was first up and I can't make up my mind whether it was just very good or top-ten-episodes-ever good.

I think something felt off in the sense that, again, it's a very grounded episode. It was clear from the premiere that this is where they were going for. I do expect one or two concept episodes this season, but it may no longer be what the show is about anymore. It still had the heart of the series, but it's more of a "season one" appeal, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

One of the reasons why I love the show, and why it makes me laugh, is the cleverness. This episode was funny, but I'm not sure I'd call it clever. I know it's a stupid and entirely arbitrary distinction, but I'm having trouble figuring out why I didn't laugh much when there were so many great lines throughout (as a massive Clive Barker fan, I appreciate the funny nod). The dialogue was sharp as hell, even in a show as sharp as this.

One thing that has become incredibly clear to me: Abed is my least favorite character. He was never my favorite, but he was often paired with Troy (my actual favorite) and I was worried about him not working well on his own. He doesn't. Even rewatching older episodes, I've found that his relationship with Troy was the only lasting appeal Abed had; the geek schtick hasn't gone anywhere in a while. I know he's been the face of the show for a while, but with a handful of exceptions, he hasn't done anything for me since Troy left.

The highlight of the episode was that it focused on Chang and the Dean (both of whom have been awesome this entire season), both of them getting central plotlines that not only gave them a ridiculous amount of depth, but also gave Jeong and Rash some amazing material to work with. The climactic scene with the Karate Kid stage play was crazy; you'd never expect something so fucking stupid to be so powerful, but this isn't the first time that's happened this season. I can't believe I got chills looking at the characters' reactions to Chang.

Also: holy shit, did the show go ahead and explore the Dean's sexuality? I know it left a big part ambiguous (5/7ths, to be exact) but it's amazing that they opened up a running joke and transformed it into a consistent part of the character. The Dean's journey here wasn't ridiculous; it was heartfelt, complex, and brilliantly executed. If The Big Bang Theory didn't exist and the Emmies weren't run by baboons with strokes, I'd see Rash winning something this year.

Also two: the funniest bit was probably the hidden conversation between Jeff and the Dean over Frankie's comments on sexuality. The reaction was spot-on. Oh! And they finally recognized the fact that Paget Brewster was in the show before. It was subtle, but funny, and much appreciated.

The rest of the cast was pushed to the back, and I didn't mind. Annie had a decent role to play. Abed had a story with Keith David (again, can't remember the character's name) that had great dialogue and a good emotional payoff, but was nothing special. I guess Keith David is an employee? He was brought in as a student in episode two so I don't know what's going on with him. I feel the writers don't either. I miss Hickey. I appreciate that we got to see Britta at work and that she wasn't used as a lightning rod for everyone's mean-spiritedness. She didn't do shit, but it feels like progress.

Community has gone back to a previous state (I think?) and I'm not sure it was my favorite, but for what it is right now, and considering it has gone through hell, it's amazing what it's still doing. Thanks to its focus on the two that have become the best characters, "Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing" was fucking phenomenal, even if not my favorite representation of the show.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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