Review: Community - Comparative Religion
by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 11th 2009 2:37AM
(S01E12) The Christmas, er *ahem* the ... uh ... Holiday spirit hit Greendale Community College, and brought with it one of the funniest episodes of Community yet. It's the end of their first semester together, and Shirley decides to throw a Christmas party in the study group room. The only problem is, not everyone in the group is Christian. In fact, none of them are the same religion at all, and Pierce may be something else entirely.
What's more, Anthony Michael Hall showed up to bully Abed, and wound up having to face off against Jeff in a bully smackdown! The dilemma for the gang: show up at Jeff's fight or show up for Shirley's party. What to do?
The training session with the boys turned out way funnier than I expected. My first burst of laughter came when Troy showed Jeff "The Forest Whitaker Eye." Even better, Jeff actually used it in the fight, and confused the crap out of Hall's character. After Shirley broke up the meeting, they got me again when first Troy and then Jeff realized that there really is no other word to finish "fffiiiiiggghhh ... t."
There was a lesson of tolerance for Shirley this week. She was so determined to have a Christmas party for her new family, after the dissolution of her actual one. Unfortunately, she became incredibly uncomfortable to find out the diversity of religious viewpoints in the group. Troy is a Jehovah's Witness, Britta's an atheist, Abed is Muslim, Jeff's agnostic, Annie's a Jew ("Say the whole word!"); I mean Jewish; and Pierce is in some kind of pot-smoking "not-Buddhist" cult.
She was trying so hard, but when she put Annie's menorah into the tree, hidden, you could tell she was really struggling to embrace their diversity. I loved it when she gave Annie the baby Jesus, to finish the nativity scene, and Annie delicately put him on the tree.
Religion is such a touchy subject, as Jeff pointed out, I was worried how it would be handled on the show. At the same time, it was perfect that it became a plot point in a show set at college. Certainly, college is one of those formative places where people explore different belief systems and learn more about the diverse religions out there.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the very fact that it's part of this episode, and thus this review, brings it out in the comments as well. People are incredibly passionate about the subject. It's also an incredibly dangerous one, able to fracture relationships and even launch wars. So, Shirley and Community took the only approach they could have, and yet one that's ironically just as controversial. They stripped the holiday of any religious significance and stamped their PC-ness all over the festivities.
Comedy's a great tool for looking at real issues and making us laugh. They did a great job of jumping right into the religious discussion without overtly offending anyone or disrespecting any particular belief. Well, except for the pot-smoking "not-Buddhist" cult. Those people are probably so pissed off right now!
Line of the night
Shirley: "Why do you hate me and Jesus?"
Jeff: "I don't think my brownie is working."
Politically Correct "Silent Night" (as sung by Shirley)
Sensible night, appropriate night
Snow on ground, left and right
Round yon purchase of decorative things
Tolerant rewrite of carols to sing
Function with relative ease,
Function with relative ease.
[To remember the first semester at Greendale, check out clips and full episodes of Community at SlashControl.]