TV Review: "Community" 6x06: "Basic Email Security"


I expect this review won't be very long. It took me a while to catch up and write it because I really don't have a lot to say about it. This was a standard episode. Nothing particularly bad, not much that is particularly good, and covering a lot of ground the show has covered not once but twice before (and no, calling itself out on it doesn't make it better).

This episode takes the somewhat rare format of keeping only one main story that involves the entire cast instead of the standard of two or three parallel storylines. This time, it involves a threat to Greendale, who is hosting the show of a comedian well known for being controversial. As a result, a hacking group threatens to leak some very sensitive information unless they cancel the show.

Through this story, the episode explores some topics such as censorship in a pretty decent way, finally making good use of Britta. The bad news is that it spends more time doing the "revealing the characters' secrets" things the show already did twice, and both time with better episodes ("Cooperative Calligraphy" and "Cooperative Polygraphy", both classics from seasons two and five respectively). There was absolutely nothing new done with this dynamic here, except for one thing:

When the emails of the study group (or whatever the committee is called now) leak and they all read each other's shit, they obviously begin yelling at each other about everything that was written about each other. Very standard, and nothing very interesting or memorable. But then Chang calls out Frankie on always e-mailing her sister, who never responds ("Take a hint!"). What followed is one of the strongest one-two punches in the show's history. Again, it showed us its capacity to go from funny or crazy to "Holy shit, shit just got too real" effortlessly. Both Frankie and Chang's acting was phenomenal.

"Let's call that rock bottom" is goddamn right.

One of my biggest issues is that the stakes make no sense. Who the fuck has all these secrets about their opinions and thoughts about their friends on their e-mail? It's not text messaging, it's not the internet history or private chats. It's the e-mail. I don't think anyone's e-mail is so full of personal sensitive information like this episode seems to think.

Another good thing I can say is that they finally showed a little respect towards Britta. I don't remember the last time she stood for something genuine, and did so with strength of character. This is the Britta we like. You can still make fun of her faux values, but "being the punching bag" isn't a good dynamic for one of your main characters. In the same way, it helped endear Abed to me again, I've said before that he's my least favorite character, but he was very likeable here.

The whole climax didn't really involve me very much, and the punchline of the shitty comedian being a shitty comedian didn't quite work for me. It felt anticlimactic in an episode with such high emotional stakes, but maybe that was the whole point; they risked the group's stability to protect a hack's freedom of speech, and didn't entirely regret it. It's food for thought, and it's interesting . . .

. . . but it wasn't very funny.

We're halfway through a pretty consistent season that hasn't had any real problems, but still is shaping up to be my least favorite after 4. I hope it perks up a bit and gives us at least one or two truly memorable episodes, because I don't think I'd use that word to describe any of the first six.
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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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