'Community' recap: The post-postmodern Jesus
“There are no takes. There is no viewer. The film is the story. The story is us. We are the film.” Is Abed the messiah, or is the messiah all of us? Is this a clever TV show, or are we being Charlie Kaufman? Is this the greatest story ever told?
What starts as another make-do Anthro 101 class with Professor Ian Duncan (John Oliver) at the projector –- viral videos as teaching tool (your tax dollars at work!) -– quickly spirals into a “Jesus movie for the post-postmodern world.”
Offended by her classmates’ attitudes toward religion, devout Christian Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) sets out to make a rappin’ Jesus movie for the YouTube generation. Abed (Danny Pudi) has other ideas. After speed-reading the New Testament, he envisions filming Jesus filming: The story of the story is the story.
Suddenly, Abed has been transformed into a meta Jesus in black leather pants and long, flowing locks (Don’t tell the dean -- separation of church and state, and all that) and is preaching to the Greendale multitudes: “I have arrived. I am watched as I am watching. I am audience and creation. The Earth shall know my power.”
Things spin out of control, as they’re wont to do in the Greendale ZIP Code, and our filmmaker has his “Are you there God? It’s me, Abed” moment. He’s overheard by Shirley, whose wrath is visited upon the filmmaking equipment (hey, that’s school property!). It’s like Jesus and the money-lenders in the temple all over again, with a side of bread, but fish …? Well, it is the cafeteria, after all.
Interspersed with this biblical story of narcissism, prophets and cameras is Pierce’s (Chevy Chase) own tale of rebellion. He’s feeling old, so he hangs with Leonard (Richard Erdman) and the rest of the reprobate hipsters. Average age: 85-plus. They sow some wild oats, make the Dean (Jim Rash) and Shirley run a gantlet of taunts, then steal and crash the dean’s car. Jeff (Joel McHale) bails him out, acts all dad-like, and Pierce huffs out.
A new day dawns, and our sullen crew trudges into Anthro 101 for another viral video lesson. Cue up Troy (Donald Glover) and his rapping Beat-itudes (“Ice cream is everywhere, but never on your thighs.”) and the circle is complete. Or is it?
Charlie Kaufman, Jesus and aging rebels -– who else in TV land would even dream up such an idea, much less execute it so brilliantly? I tip my green eyeshade to Team “Community” for another 22 minutes of inspired television. OK, on to next week for a bag full of tricks and treats.
-- Alison Dingeldein
Photo: The wrath of Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown). Credit: Trae Patton / NBC