Three episodes into the new season of Community, it’s become apparent that the show doesn’t really know who its characters are anymore. Understandably, Pierce has grown more and more obsolete, probably due to Chevy Chase’s impending exit from the show. But what about Greendale’s other characters, who are sticking around at least until May? In last week’s Halloween episode, for instance, Troy was reduced to a clueless infant, a grown man who seemed oblivious to anything relating to sex. In “Conventions of Space and Time,” it was Annie’s turn to play the dimwit.
Annie devolves into a small child with irritatingly ditzy qualities when she begins to play “Mrs. Winger” in her hotel room at the convention. (Jeff’s uninterested in hanging around with her—perhaps because she’s gotten so childish?—once an avalanche cancels their planned ski trip together.) She spends the majority of the episode re-enacting Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, if Kevin McCallister were a grown woman flightily pretending to be the wife of the man she not so secretly pines for.
Annie’s “girly girl” exterior didn’t feel smartly self-aware in the way it usually does—take, for instance, last season’s Christmas episode parody of Glee, when she attempted to seduce Jeff with a send-up of “Santa Baby.” (The Madonna version, not the sultry, mature Eartha Kitt one.) As she slithers around singing “Teach me how to understand Christmas,” Annie plays up her perceived innocence (and cluelessness) to the nth degree, but it’s clear the writers are making fun of the “sexy baby voice” and everything such stereotypes about women entail. (The song ends, bluntly, with “boop be doop be doop doop/ SEX.”) Unfortunately, she’s none too endearing now and saddled with a lame storyline with Jeff (that refuses to progress or just die) to boot.
This childish romp in the hotel room was nothing more than Annie letting out her subconscious love for Jeff, and that would be OK if it weren’t for the way it all ends: with her admitting that she’s “married” Jeff “at least” six times already in her dreams. (And Troy and Zac Efron. Is she 14?) Then she chuckles giddily as she sends Jeff off to get her an appletini. Why is she becoming such a baby? Is Annie Edison turning into Trudy Campbell before our eyes, one-dimensionally idealistic and naïve? Annie (and Alison Brie) deserves better.