Episode 8: Herstory of Dance
By: Carlos Uribe
Community is a show about the senior year of a group of friends attending Greendale Community College.
A lot of comedies like to have a character that serves as the punching bag from the writers. An excellent example of this is the character Meg from Family Guy. She's made fun of not only by characters but by the show's universe itself. She has immense bad luck because the writers think it's funny to be mean for her. It could be argued that Britta has become Community's version of Meg. It's true that the characters don't tend to treat Pierce with the same respect as the rest of the group but that's because his personality earns it. Pierce is a character who has become an antagonistic at times because it's just who he is. It's understandable why they might want to leave him out. It's justifiable why they would mistreat him. Britta is different. She wants to do the right thing. She cares about them and tries to be the best person possible. Pierce might not be a bad person (all the time) but she tries to be a good person. There is no reason why the group should make fun of her. Her attitude might explain why they think she has a tendency to ruin things but it's largely unearned. At the end of the day, Britta likes to be a team player. She does have the tendency to screw up. That's where the writers like to make fun of her. A great memory is the Ken Burns spoof the series did last year. It kept bringing up how Britta kept failing at her photographs. Even the one good photograph she took ended up being an accident. They can't take her seriously. They mock her career choice. Her mistakes have grown so numerous that the characters have turned her name into a synonym of an epic fail. The writers have gotten into the habit of having the universe make fun of her.
The thing is I actually like Britta. I might not agree with her on any issue but I do think that she means well. She is really the only member of the group to hold an opinion on anything and she's not afraid of speaking up. So when this episode decided to break the trend and give Britta a victory, I couldn't help but be satisfied. Britta is able to take back her name and turn into meaning success. When she takes offense at the idea of a special dance's hook being that the girl has to ask the girl out, she decides to throw a Susan B. Anthony dance. Only she messes up the name so it's going to be a Sophie B. Hawkins dance instead. This implies that she's gotten Sophie Hawkins to agree to come but she didn't. So it comes as a huge surprise to everyone when Hawkins actually does show up. It's a great moment of achievement for her even if she didn't earn it herself. The person to help her is actually Pierce. He might not always be politically correct but he does have the group's best interest at heart. He's not happy that they constantly make fun of Britta. It's gotten so bad that Britta doesn't even like to admit when she makes a mistake because everyone is going to make fun of her. Pierce encourages her to stick with her lie so that she can save her face. She follows it and he rewards her by using his connections to get Hawkins to show up. He's able to give her this victory to show it to the group that she can succeed. The moment simply gives her pure joy.
It's not her happiness that makes that moment resonate. It's when Pierce is able to instill some of his wisdom to Jeff. Pierce notes not only how Britta is so happy right now but how the group is so mean to her. He even makes Jeff realize that they should take her seriously. They might make fun of her for being a therapist but she did successfully get Jeff to confront his dad. The idea of Britta doing therapy might have started out as a joke but she might actually have a knack for it. Jeff realizes that he needs to be nicer to Britta so he admits he's proud of her in a text message. He even takes the time to assure her that the text is not sarcastic. What makes her moment of victory so delicious is that it forces Jeff, the voice of the group's opinion, to admit that Britta is pretty cool. Britta got what she wanted: she got to Britta the dance and for once it's actually a good thing. The rest of the dance plot was good too and it had it's moments. I'll admit that I didn't really find this episode to be particularly funny. This isn't an episode I like because it's funny but because it manages to give such a perfect ending for Britta that I was satisfied.
There was also a sub-plot with Abed. He introduces the idea that he's decided he's going to grow so he's going to try and stop relating to life through television. His resolution quickly breaks down when he gets the classic sit-com trope of getting two dates at once. He can't help but to relive the night as close to the tropes as possible. It's in this plot where he has a meet-cute with a girl who also likes to make classic tropes come alive. Only when it comes time for Abed to kiss her, he doesn't because it doesn't fit what they're doing. It isn't until after Shirley and Annie express their disapproval that he realizes that the girl he likes was under his nose this entire time. He makes a huge public declaration of love for her. It's an interesting idea to give Abed a long-term love interest but at least he found a girl whose going to like his passion for tropes. The sub-plot was a lot funnier than the main plot but it didn't really stand out that much until the end. Using the whole two-date to get to the real girl was a pretty clever idea that paid off in the end.
Herstory of Dance was an episode that I'm going to remember for one reason: it allowed Britta to win. It's a great moment for the character and it was executed to near perfection. It might not have been the funniest episode but it was a sweet one. The Abed sub-plot worked better in making me laugh but it felt predictable but his public declaration of love was still worth it. Overall, the episode was a good one. It doesn't quite match the Dan Harmon standard but the series keeps inching closer to actually being able to reach it.