In Slate’s Community TV Club, Aisha Harris will IM about each post-Dan Harmon episode with another Community fan. This week, she discusses “Herstory of Dance” with attorney, educator, and all-around Community lover Ariel Joseph.
Ariel Joseph: School dances are fun.
Aisha Harris: I always found school dances to be incredibly underwhelming. Hoping the guy I had a crush on would ask me to dance, and then being sadly disappointed.
Ariel: I agree entirely. Like many "traditional" college rights of passage, they're quite overrated. Seems like Community is going through the motions, what with Abed's fraternity in the last episode and the Sophie B. Hawkins dance in this one.
Aisha: Yes—relying upon, as Abed states clearly, the two-dates-to-one-dance conundrum, a classic sitcom trope. But this time, I think the jokes and quick pacing were enough to keep this episode from feeling too derivative. I especially liked how all of their storylines in some way bled into each other, as opposed to other episodes this season with completely divergent storylines. Pierce helped Britta, who wanted to counter the Dean's Sadie Hawkins dance, and those two dances provided the rest of the cast a chance to play out their screwball comedy hijinks.
There were also quite a few good zingers tonight. (“Damn, she straight BRITTA’D this!”) And come on, Sophie B. Hawkins! An extremely obscure pop culture reference used to great effect here.
Ariel: I didn't know that's what she looks like.
Aisha: Me neither! As soon as I saw her appear, I had to wonder to myself whether that was actually her.
Ariel: Yeah, same here. Though I sort of remember that song "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Mother." Er, "Lover.”
Aisha: Just Googled her image. It was definitely her. But anyway, I love how Britta'ing took full control this time around, and there were some great moments.
Ariel: Agreed, a thoroughly enjoyable episode. Abed being on two dates at once was fun and it had just the right amount of Changnesia. I also love how the Dean is treating Britta this year. Maybe I hadn't picked up on it in prior seasons, but he really doesn't like her, and it's hilarious.
Aisha: I was really worried earlier this season that her and Troy's relationship was going to doom them as individual characters. But having her just go whole-hog, trying desperately to find Sophie B. Hawkins (or a convincing impersonator) on Craigslist, was refreshing.
Ariel: I was worried about that as well. And rightly so, if the first few episodes of this season were any indication. I'm glad they've cooled off on anything having to do with Britta and Troy dating.
Aisha: Right—just the right amount of small moments of them interacting as a couple.
Ariel: Also, while this might sound mean, I'm not sure I like the idea of Abed being in a relationship either.
Aisha: Even with a manic pixie dream girl as cute as the coat check?
Ariel: Absolutely. I guess I just can't see what she is going to add. Abed isn't a boring Michael Cera type. He doesn't need a manic pixie dream girl. Moreover, he survived three years as one of the funniest characters on television without a girlfriend. Why mess with a good thing? On another note, have you noticed how they sure are softening up Pierce for his eventual, inevitable end?
Aisha: Oh definitely. It seems to be the complete opposite of the way he was portrayed in some of the earlier episodes.
Ariel: Last episode, he takes Jeff out for a shave and wins him over. This week he helps Britta by getting Sophie B. Hawkins. What's he going to do next week? Help Annie fall in love? Save Shirley's church from going bankrupt?
Aisha: I would love to see Pierce surrounded by a bunch of church-going black ladies. The offensiveness would be off the charts. Hopefully, he won't tell his story about hooking up with Eartha Kitt on an airplane for the 8,000th time.
Ariel: Absolutely! Too bad NBC can't pay for actors to populate the black people in Shirley's world. (See: the Thanksgiving episode.)