Community Review – “Advanced Safety Features” S6E7

Pros:

Do you believe half your politics?
I can’t even believe how much I love Britta Perry. First place is a struggle between Troy and Abed, and second place (or third, I guess) is a struggle between Pierce and Britta. But this season has made the Britta of Britta-ing Britta. It’s been almost mean spirited with how superfluous and dumb and gross they’ve made her. The episode opening up with the difference between prison and jail followed by answering honestly and thoughtfully to the question, “Do you believe half your politics,” instantly triggered my Britta jones. I was in. Already in.

Just a guy who knows Powerpoint:
This whole section killed it. As if his presentation wasn’t weird and self-indulgent on Changnesia levels, breaking two eggs expecting a dollar bill each time was inspired. 

Troy was really good at steel drums:
I like that the show isn’t trying to pretend Troy never existed and instead acknowledges (in the word’s of Abed), “I haven’t really been all that funny,” since he left. It doesn’t really excuse how nearly “year of the gas leak” season six has been, but it does create a kinship with the creators. Augmented with Abed’s remark about Elroy being “young Troy, or black Pierce, or Shirley without a purse,” it really feels like the creative team is saying, “I know those feels, bro.”

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“Don’t even say that name without compensation.”
YES, emeffer, YES. A Britta episode that blows the wheels off this pig. Except it’s Honda instead of Subway. It’s so incredibly inspired that the person the most opposed to marketing is the person who gets hooked into it in the most invasive possible way. I can’t even put into words how jonesin’ this episode had me.

“We’re workshopping handshakes”
I love that Annie and Abed have latched onto each other. Thematically, it makes sense as they were closest to him emotionally and geographically. It’s also satisfying because, once again, the show is showing us that everyone feels everyone’s absence.

Annie and Abed's Handshake

 

A level seven susceptible
Dean’s insane need for approval extends to his buying habits. He’s not buying Honda, he’s buying the approval of Rick.

One mechanical alligator?
Finally Elroy feels like he’s got a spot in the show. The exchange between Britta and him about drawbridges slayed me. He’s also getting some emotional depth, and his resolve with Jeff (and not-Natasha of Natasha is Freezing) was great.

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Cons:

Guerilla Marketing
I understand that an ugly truth of our world is that shows need sponsors to exist, and sometimes those sponsors demand their products be heavily featured. But I’m feeling like this show didn’t quite hit the post-modern irony that the Subway arc originally knocked so far out of the park that someone in Russia’s about to experience head trauma.

This will pay off later
I don’t think Frankie playing steel drums is funny. I can’t tell if it’s a joke because it’s not funny despite having the comedy formula, or if it’s a joke that swung and missed hardcore. I feel like either way, the entire setup and the payoff isn’t even nearly what I expect of the show’s self-awareness.

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Wrap it Up, Folks:

I think this is without a doubt the best episode of Community this season, and one of the best Britta episodes. Though, speaking frankly, I think every Britta episode with the exception of the year with the gasleak, is a great episode. But this is probably number 3 after the UN episode and the original Subway arc. Srsly though folks, I don’t know if there was a single scene in this episode where Britta wasn’t funny.

In addition to finally doing Britta’s character justice, this episode expertly handled even it’s most minor plot lines. Dean’s need for approval destroys his need to be a good dean (and thus achieve approval. Jeff only does something like seek vulnerability when he’s still in a position of power. Thus, when Elroy gives him the validation he needs, Jeff has to pretend it makes no difference. Finally, Elroy feels like he belongs.

But that product placement is problematic. It doesn’t feel ironic enough and like just plain old product placement (for a reference on product placement that will make you violently puke in indignation, see Modern Family). I think there’s two things that needed to happen. First, the plot of the original Subway arch was so over the top, that the show didn’t need to tell us what was happening. This arch with Rick didn’t top the Subway arch: the idea before being that you can buck the norm and achieve desired ends by bucking the norm, but this time around the norm is set higher. Now, in order to buck you must buck harder.

Second, in shows like 30 Rock, pre-Yahoo Community, and Arrested Development, there are clues to let you know that they understand this is how it has to go, and they don’t have a choice, but as a show they haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid personally. I think the cincher here is when Rick says something like, “Do you have a problem with Honda’s quality?” and Britta says, “Of course not! Honda’s quality was never in question!” Britta should have instantly snapped back with something about child labor, exploitation of third world countries, or the kind of marketing that makes us think cars=happiness.

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Hush Comics gives “Advanced Safety Features” a B+ (++++++++++). Definitely one of the better this season, if not the best, and I so badly want to give it an A, but the way the product placement was handled forces honesty to stop it just short.

All images belong to Yahoo! Screen.

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