‘Community’ – ‘Aerodynamics of Gender’: Mean girls, mean boy

Senior Television Writer
11.04.10 122 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Community” coming up just as soon as I’m smuggling a lime and a coconut…

There were some complaints last week that, by opening the season with two all-parody episodes out of the first six, “Community” was leaning too far in that direction, and away from the mix of character-driven comedy and the more occasional references the show spent most of season one on. I’m told that “Epidemiology” will be the last episode of its kind for a while, and “Aerodynamics of Gender” was a step back in that direction some of you had been asking for.

Yes, there are a lot of obvious “Mean Girls” parody to the Abed story – and “Robocop” gags, too(*) – with guest star Hilary Duff in the Rachel McAdams role and Abed amusingly cast as Lindsay Lohan. But it was still very much an Abed story, about how well he can see things in micro (all the embarrassing details he used to pick apart all the bitches on campus) and how fuzzy things are in macro (that the study group women are exploiting him, that none of this behavior is right or fair or nice). If it resembled a previous homage-heavy episiode of the show, it was the “Goodfellas” episode (and was never as aggressive in its references as that one) rather than paintball, in that Abed’s character arc was always front and center even as you could spot the movie references, and it was well-played by Danny Pudi. And his sacrifice here was even greater, as he allowed himself to be humiliated in front of the whole school in order to restore the natural order of things. The destruct codes he wrote for HIlary Duff to hit him with also showed that while Abed will always struggle to understand others’ behavior, he understands his own painfully well. Great story for him.

(*) There was some “Simpsons”-level obsessive detail for those who bothered to freeze-frame the various Abed heads-up displays. Among my favorite notes from the various ones: Abed watches “Cougar Town,” he knows when the women in the study group have their cycles, and the plot synopsis kept changing.

The Troy/Jeff/Pierce story, on the other hand, wasn’t a specific reference to anything (though some of my Twitter followers squinted to try and see “The Chronicles of Narnia” and Jacob on “Lost”), but rather was a nice bit of goofiness, a chance to see Jeff be mellow and happy, to see Pierce playing supervillain, and an always-welcome opportunity to hear Donald Glover try to speak while crying.

Not the season’s funniest episode, but I really really liked Abed in the cafeteria.

What did everybody else think?

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