Community 1x07: “Introduction to Statistics”
Chang introduces Annie by telling the class that all faculty are required to give extra credit to a student who organizes academically related events outside of class. Annie has planned a Dia de los Muertos party which she calls “Mexican Halloween.” She invites the class to the party and asks for RSVPs from the members of her study group. Shirley replies with a yes, citing her new lack of a wedding ring as her reason for going out. Pierce says he already replied, and tries to reconcile with his technology to find his answer. Britta speaks to Jeff in an aside and Jeff states that his answer regarding the party is no. Jeff asks Britta if she is certain that they will never be non-platonic, and she says they will not. Jeff claims that he is happy about this because he actually wishes to pursue one of his professors instead. Having lost control of his phone, Pierce interrupts every one as he exits the room by trying to cover the ramblings of his mother, who is revealing secrets about him. This is not a Halloween episode about fear, but a Dia de los Muertos episode about not being afraid of death and celebrating life as a result.

Prof. Slater wraps up Statistics 101 by describing the Bernoulli Distribution as “the number of successes in a series of independent yes/no experiments.” A Bernoulli Trial is considered fair if the probability of success is 50%. So if you let heads be a success and tails be a failure —or a yes and a no respectively—, and toss the coin, if the probability that it lands on heads is the same as the probability that it lands on tails, the coin toss is fair. Annie conducted a Bernoulli trial earlier to see if people were coming to her party, and Jeff is about to conduct an experiment of his own to see if Prof. Slater will agree to go out with him. Jeff asks 4 times and receives all No answers. Prof. Slater tells him that she has a personal rule against dating students, revealing that Jeff’s experiment is unfair. Britta and Shirley are walking down the hall as Jeff continues to ask Prof. Slater for a date. Shirley is offended on Britta’s behalf for the way Jeff has replaced his advances on Britta with advances on Prof. Slater. Britta maintains that she does not care what Jeff does, however. Jeff’s last tactic in the hallway is to convince Prof. Slater that he is older than her and is no longer a student. As Prof. Slater rejects him once more, Annie appears and accosts Jeff for an answer about attending her party. Jeff is evasive and will not give a yes or no response until Annie begins to cry. Through her tears, Annie says that Jeff is “the cool guy” and will make the party a success, and that the success or failure of the party is her second chance to make herself be “hip, cool, laid back” in the eyes of her peers.

Pierce and Troy are studying silently. As Pierce attempts to take a pill in secret, Abed appears behind him and draws attention to his actions. Abed compares his own grandfather to Pierce and warns about the dangers of taking medications. He gives the anecdote of his grandfather’s memory failing due to age, and taking the wrong pills together, causing him to run down the street with no pants on which is “a real party foul.” Pierce says that he does not need Abed’s advise, and he is not a “pantsless grandpa.” However, Abed’s story will be mirrored in Pierce’s actions before the night is through. Abed is behind Pierce in this scene. Here and for the rest of the episode Abed will symbolize the fear of the character behind whom he appears. Pierce is still afraid of being seen as old, and he will be fighting this image to seem hip, cool, and laid back.

Dressed as a skeleton, Annie welcomes her guests to her party. She removes her mask and greets Britta who is dressed as a squirrel. Britta talks about how she hates “when women use Halloween as an excuse to dress like sluts.” Annie agrees dismissively as she takes off her cape to reveal that her skeleton costume is skin tight. Britta looks at Annie and then down at her own costume sadly. Annie introduces the cookie tombstones “por tradicion” and announces that “la danza de los muertos” will start in a few minutes. Frustrated, Chang yells that she does not have to keep translating everything. Jeff walks in without a costume and Britta teases him about not being out on a date with Prof. Slater. Jeff says that she is grading papers, and Chang yells from across the room to correct him, telling them that Prof. Slater is at the faculty party. We never saw Prof. Slater tell Jeff that she would be grading papers, and based on what she did say earlier, it is more likely that Jeff made up that story to save face in front of Britta. Abed, dressed as Batman, appears behind Jeff, personifying Jeff’s fear that others will find out he was rejected by Prof. Slater. Pierce enters dressed as The Beastmaster from the 1982 film of the same name. No one gets his out of date reference, and he must explain himself to them. Shirley shows up behind Britta, offering drinks with a bad English accent. Jeff thanks her and calls her costume Urkel, but she corrects him saying that she is Harry Potter. Chang makes the same mistake. In fact, no one can see the guise Shirley is presenting for what it means to her.

In the bathroom, Pierce is once again attempting to sneak his medication. Star Burns interrupts him though and offers to trade his own illicit substances for what he thinks are comparable drugs. Pierce refers to his drugs by out of date street names he thinks are cool, but he declines a trade until Star Burns makes a disparaging remark about his coolness by saying that he is not quite the Beastmaster he claims to be. Pierce relents and offers to trade his medication to Star Burns for some ecstasy.


Chang leaves Annie’s party and hands Jeff the clipboard of extra credit. Jeff asks Chang to bring him along to the faculty party so he can talk to Prof. Slater. Chang refuses until Jeff offers him a bribe. Jeff gives the extra credit sheet to someone else and leaves Annie’s party. We were told earlier that Jeff would be the life of Annie’s party, and, with the life absent, Annie’s party starts to die. Abed is behind Annie and their frame tightens as she calls for Jeff and slowly realizes that he is gone. Her fear builds as Abed shares more of her frame. Pierce asks Star Burns what the drug he took was because he keeps grinding his teeth and wants to kiss everybody. Star Burns does not answer, but reveals his own symptoms from the drugs he took off Pierce. They are both artificially trying to change their stage of development and encountering problems. Star Burns is encountering problems taking drugs that will make him old before his time and Pierce is trying to be young again, finding his body cannot handle it. Britta consoles Annie, saying that Jeff will be right back. She pulls Shirley aside saying they have to go bring him back for Annie. Shirley agrees, but keeps making it a vendetta against Prof. Slater. Pierce seems to be doing better with his drugs now, massaging Annie’s shoulders and saying that he loves her.


At the faculty party Jeff is dressed as a cowboy and approaches Prof. Slater, offering her a beer. Jeff continues his Bernoulli Trial of asking her for a date. He says that he hates everyone at the school except for her just as Britta interrupts them. Prof. Slater asks if Britta is a classmate of Jeff’s, and Jeff rejects the term classmate as juvenile saying that “what’s great about community college is that a lot of the students are just as mature as the teachers.” Abed appears now in front of Jeff, saying that Annie is feeling unpopular and needs Jeff to return to the party. Troy entreats Jeff to come help take care of Pierce and his worsening trip. Jeff rejects them all and says that he is at a “grown up Halloween party” calling them all unseemly. Just as Britta asks how exactly they are being unseemly, the dean draws attention to Shirley ripping the antennae off of Prof. Slater’s car. The dean still calls her Urkel, even though Shirley brandishes the antennae like a wand as she rebukes Prof. Slater for “stealing Jeff from a good woman”. Pierce draws attention away from her as he enters, meowing and knocking things over. Jeff rebukes each member of the group in turn, finally telling Pierce that he is “too old to be tripping.” Pierce scoffs at this information, but, as he sees his hands before himself, he does not recognize his own body. Calling himself a zombie, he runs out of the party and the rest of the group follows him. Jeff stays and tries to entice Prof. Slater once again, but she stops him with his own word “unseemly.”

Britta is walking down the hall as she encounters Shirley attempting to fill Prof. Slater’s office with water. When Britta asks why, Shirley states “to teach that long necked, weave having bank teller she can’t steal another woman’s man!” Shirley realizes that she has spoken the truth behind the facade no one could see through before and she tells Britta the whole story. The reason her wedding ring is gone, was not by her own choice, but because her husband wants a divorce and has moved on to someone else whom he wants wearing that ring. Shirley’s reason for coming to the party was not a choice of removing the ring and moving on, but a cover up of the fear of being rejected by her husband. She states that she never wanted him back, but she just wanted to be the one to reject him. Britta listens mostly silent as Shirley talks out her own problem. Shirley concludes: “It’s like I was too proud to admit that I was hurt, so I had to pretend that you were.” Britta responds: “I totally get that.” and says they should go check on Annie. When Shirley is out of the office, Britta shows that she holds some animosity towards Prof. Slater as she calls her pretentious and breaks the head off of one of the trophies. The root of Shirley’s issue is also found in Britta, and just as Shirley was projecting onto Britta, Britta has been projecting onto Annie.

Back at Annie’s party, Pierce is not a pantsless grandpa, but he is committing a party foul by wandering around horrified with a “full on erection.” Pierce sees everyone as a frightening apparition, and he alternates between sobbing and primal roaring. In The Beastmaster, there are zombie like enemies called Death Guards. A Death Guard is just a regular person who has had a leech put into their brain. This leech eats anything it meets and as the movie states “[this] extreme torture transforms the man into a wild beast.” Chevy has allowed the leech of old age equaling death or a wasted life to eat away at his brain, and now he is torturing himself, soon to be running around as even more of a mindless beast if he does not stop this leech of an idea. In his vision, Annie has become Catrina, the depiction of death who taunts the living.

Back at the grown up party, Chang taunts Jeff about striking out with Prof. Slater. Jeff says the campus has fed on his coolness and he no longer has any moves. Chang ridicules Jeff for treating everything like a game with “moves”, and he offers Jeff  ”one move I bet you’ve never tried in your life.” Jeff walks to Prof. Slater with Chang’s new move, and we discover that it is unabashed, childish begging for sex. Prof. Slater accepts, and offers to take Jeff with her only if he stays three steps behind her and never tells anybody. He promises to comply, and they leave together.

As Jeff and Prof. Slater walk past the library together, they see that everyone is gathered outside and inviting Pierce to come out and join them. Pierce refuses, saying that he is not ready to die. Troy beseeches Jeff to help and Jeff stops to consider. Jeff says goodnight to Prof. Slater, and she asks if he has been appointed guardian of the group. He says: “they’re my classmates.” Jeff has accepted the role he refused so vehemently earlier. Jeff’s goal was to be a sexual hero to an ideal he held for himself, and also to be graded on his life thus far and be found as an adult. Instead, he goes back to being a student and accumulating successes in the experiment of his life. Had he gone with Prof. Slater, Jeff would have had to stay three steps behind her. He would be stuck developmentally. Jung discovered that many of his patients were stuck at some earlier phase in their childhood which then defined the type of adult that they were. Dia de los Muertos takes place over three nights, the gates to the afterlife open on Halloween night, the dead children come first, then the adults come two days later. Deceased adults are depicted as maintaining into the afterlife the same station they had at the time of their death. By going to die on this Halloween night, Jeff would leave his classmates (whom he deemed juvenile) behind, and return stuck in his role of hero to no one forever. He would be choosing to halt his learning in life, and forcibly end his Bernoulli Trial. Pierce feels that he has lived beyond the point of achieving anymore successes in his own life’s Bernoulli Trial and that this same halting was chosen for him because of his age.

From within a large desk fort, Pierce says that he will crush himself to death with desks and tables. Like Star Burns, Jeff appeals to Pierce’s costume identity and asks if that is a death befitting a Beastmaster. Pierce now admits that he never saw the film, but that he just wanted to be cool. Jeff removes his hat, seizing an opportunity to be a different kind of hero, and crawls into the desk fort in which Pierce is cowering. Pierce admits finally: “I’m old Jeff.” Jeff rejoins: “I don’t know how you spent the first sixty years, but I know in the last two months you’ve probably doubled the national average for amount of life lived per lifetime.” Pierce accepts this, and Jeff adds “if life is just a series of ridiculous attempts to be alive, you’re a hero to everything that’s ever lived.” Just as with Annie and Shirley earlier, everything Jeff is saying applies to both Jeff and Pierce. Jeff is saying that life is just a Bernoulli Trial and that though it is unfair (as everyone always says), you can make it unfair in your favor by gaining extra credit (like doubling the amount of life lived per lifetime). In the past two months that Jeff mentions Pierce has joined the study group, and this then is how you gain extra credit: by studying with other people, by taking on other people’s life experiences through empathy or through actual shared experience. Jeff said that Pierce is a hero to everything that has ever lived, now making him The Beastmaster he is dressed as. The others who have not figured out their lives, who are becoming Death Guards via some nagging thought that is making them into mindless beasts can be helped by Pierce’s experience, and he by theirs. The Beastmaster described his own powers in the film as empathy and shared experience saying: “I see through their eyes. They know my thoughts; I know theirs.” By delivering this speech, Jeff is also taking his own advice and staying back as a student rather than an “adult”, and empathizing with Pierce because their problems are similar. In fact, all of the main character’s problems stem from a similar fear of rejection. Pierce accepts Jeff’s assessment of his life triumphantly, and accidentally destroys the equilibrium of the desk fort, causing it to tremble and begin to fall on top of them. Abed appears from nowhere and grabs them both, pulling them out of the fort as it crumbles. They are situated such that Abed is behind both of them as they are dragged from the wreckage. Abed is now fear as a motivator. They are afraid of death or afraid of a wasted life, and that is good because it is motivating them to move forward and not to sit passively waiting for death to come tally their successes and failures. Jeff asks if Abed is staying for the party, and Abed says that if he stays “there can be no party.” The party thus far has been a failure because it is filled with fear. Dia de los Muertos is not about fear, but about embracing death as an equalizer and celebrating the lives of the deceased. This is why Chang wanted Annie to stop translating everything earlier, because at that time the party was a Halloween party driven by fear. Once Abed removes himself from the library and the party, we see everyone enjoying themselves and enjoying the company of each other. They are now all gaining extra credit by sharing and incorporating the lives of others into their own, no longer fearing death but reveling in life, adding to the successes column of their Bernoulli Trials.


we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
- e. e. cummings

 
Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x07: “Introduction to Statistics”

Chang introduces Annie by telling the class that all faculty are required to give extra credit to a student who organizes academically related events outside of class. Annie has planned a Dia de los Muertos party which she calls “Mexican Halloween.” She invites the class to the party and asks for RSVPs from the members of her study group. Shirley replies with a yes, citing her new lack of a wedding ring as her reason for going out. Pierce says he already replied, and tries to reconcile with his technology to find his answer. Britta speaks to Jeff in an aside and Jeff states that his answer regarding the party is no. Jeff asks Britta if she is certain that they will never be non-platonic, and she says they will not. Jeff claims that he is happy about this because he actually wishes to pursue one of his professors instead. Having lost control of his phone, Pierce interrupts every one as he exits the room by trying to cover the ramblings of his mother, who is revealing secrets about him. This is not a Halloween episode about fear, but a Dia de los Muertos episode about not being afraid of death and celebrating life as a result.

Prof. Slater wraps up Statistics 101 by describing the Bernoulli Distribution as “the number of successes in a series of independent yes/no experiments.” A Bernoulli Trial is considered fair if the probability of success is 50%. So if you let heads be a success and tails be a failure —or a yes and a no respectively—, and toss the coin, if the probability that it lands on heads is the same as the probability that it lands on tails, the coin toss is fair. Annie conducted a Bernoulli trial earlier to see if people were coming to her party, and Jeff is about to conduct an experiment of his own to see if Prof. Slater will agree to go out with him. Jeff asks 4 times and receives all No answers. Prof. Slater tells him that she has a personal rule against dating students, revealing that Jeff’s experiment is unfair. Britta and Shirley are walking down the hall as Jeff continues to ask Prof. Slater for a date. Shirley is offended on Britta’s behalf for the way Jeff has replaced his advances on Britta with advances on Prof. Slater. Britta maintains that she does not care what Jeff does, however. Jeff’s last tactic in the hallway is to convince Prof. Slater that he is older than her and is no longer a student. As Prof. Slater rejects him once more, Annie appears and accosts Jeff for an answer about attending her party. Jeff is evasive and will not give a yes or no response until Annie begins to cry. Through her tears, Annie says that Jeff is “the cool guy” and will make the party a success, and that the success or failure of the party is her second chance to make herself be “hip, cool, laid back” in the eyes of her peers.

Pierce and Troy are studying silently. As Pierce attempts to take a pill in secret, Abed appears behind him and draws attention to his actions. Abed compares his own grandfather to Pierce and warns about the dangers of taking medications. He gives the anecdote of his grandfather’s memory failing due to age, and taking the wrong pills together, causing him to run down the street with no pants on which is “a real party foul.” Pierce says that he does not need Abed’s advise, and he is not a “pantsless grandpa.” However, Abed’s story will be mirrored in Pierce’s actions before the night is through. Abed is behind Pierce in this scene. Here and for the rest of the episode Abed will symbolize the fear of the character behind whom he appears. Pierce is still afraid of being seen as old, and he will be fighting this image to seem hip, cool, and laid back.

Dressed as a skeleton, Annie welcomes her guests to her party. She removes her mask and greets Britta who is dressed as a squirrel. Britta talks about how she hates “when women use Halloween as an excuse to dress like sluts.” Annie agrees dismissively as she takes off her cape to reveal that her skeleton costume is skin tight. Britta looks at Annie and then down at her own costume sadly. Annie introduces the cookie tombstones “por tradicion” and announces that “la danza de los muertos” will start in a few minutes. Frustrated, Chang yells that she does not have to keep translating everything. Jeff walks in without a costume and Britta teases him about not being out on a date with Prof. Slater. Jeff says that she is grading papers, and Chang yells from across the room to correct him, telling them that Prof. Slater is at the faculty party. We never saw Prof. Slater tell Jeff that she would be grading papers, and based on what she did say earlier, it is more likely that Jeff made up that story to save face in front of Britta. Abed, dressed as Batman, appears behind Jeff, personifying Jeff’s fear that others will find out he was rejected by Prof. Slater. Pierce enters dressed as The Beastmaster from the 1982 film of the same name. No one gets his out of date reference, and he must explain himself to them. Shirley shows up behind Britta, offering drinks with a bad English accent. Jeff thanks her and calls her costume Urkel, but she corrects him saying that she is Harry Potter. Chang makes the same mistake. In fact, no one can see the guise Shirley is presenting for what it means to her.

In the bathroom, Pierce is once again attempting to sneak his medication. Star Burns interrupts him though and offers to trade his own illicit substances for what he thinks are comparable drugs. Pierce refers to his drugs by out of date street names he thinks are cool, but he declines a trade until Star Burns makes a disparaging remark about his coolness by saying that he is not quite the Beastmaster he claims to be. Pierce relents and offers to trade his medication to Star Burns for some ecstasy.

Chang leaves Annie’s party and hands Jeff the clipboard of extra credit. Jeff asks Chang to bring him along to the faculty party so he can talk to Prof. Slater. Chang refuses until Jeff offers him a bribe. Jeff gives the extra credit sheet to someone else and leaves Annie’s party. We were told earlier that Jeff would be the life of Annie’s party, and, with the life absent, Annie’s party starts to die. Abed is behind Annie and their frame tightens as she calls for Jeff and slowly realizes that he is gone. Her fear builds as Abed shares more of her frame. Pierce asks Star Burns what the drug he took was because he keeps grinding his teeth and wants to kiss everybody. Star Burns does not answer, but reveals his own symptoms from the drugs he took off Pierce. They are both artificially trying to change their stage of development and encountering problems. Star Burns is encountering problems taking drugs that will make him old before his time and Pierce is trying to be young again, finding his body cannot handle it. Britta consoles Annie, saying that Jeff will be right back. She pulls Shirley aside saying they have to go bring him back for Annie. Shirley agrees, but keeps making it a vendetta against Prof. Slater. Pierce seems to be doing better with his drugs now, massaging Annie’s shoulders and saying that he loves her.

At the faculty party Jeff is dressed as a cowboy and approaches Prof. Slater, offering her a beer. Jeff continues his Bernoulli Trial of asking her for a date. He says that he hates everyone at the school except for her just as Britta interrupts them. Prof. Slater asks if Britta is a classmate of Jeff’s, and Jeff rejects the term classmate as juvenile saying that “what’s great about community college is that a lot of the students are just as mature as the teachers.” Abed appears now in front of Jeff, saying that Annie is feeling unpopular and needs Jeff to return to the party. Troy entreats Jeff to come help take care of Pierce and his worsening trip. Jeff rejects them all and says that he is at a “grown up Halloween party” calling them all unseemly. Just as Britta asks how exactly they are being unseemly, the dean draws attention to Shirley ripping the antennae off of Prof. Slater’s car. The dean still calls her Urkel, even though Shirley brandishes the antennae like a wand as she rebukes Prof. Slater for “stealing Jeff from a good woman”. Pierce draws attention away from her as he enters, meowing and knocking things over. Jeff rebukes each member of the group in turn, finally telling Pierce that he is “too old to be tripping.” Pierce scoffs at this information, but, as he sees his hands before himself, he does not recognize his own body. Calling himself a zombie, he runs out of the party and the rest of the group follows him. Jeff stays and tries to entice Prof. Slater once again, but she stops him with his own word “unseemly.”

Britta is walking down the hall as she encounters Shirley attempting to fill Prof. Slater’s office with water. When Britta asks why, Shirley states “to teach that long necked, weave having bank teller she can’t steal another woman’s man!” Shirley realizes that she has spoken the truth behind the facade no one could see through before and she tells Britta the whole story. The reason her wedding ring is gone, was not by her own choice, but because her husband wants a divorce and has moved on to someone else whom he wants wearing that ring. Shirley’s reason for coming to the party was not a choice of removing the ring and moving on, but a cover up of the fear of being rejected by her husband. She states that she never wanted him back, but she just wanted to be the one to reject him. Britta listens mostly silent as Shirley talks out her own problem. Shirley concludes: “It’s like I was too proud to admit that I was hurt, so I had to pretend that you were.” Britta responds: “I totally get that.” and says they should go check on Annie. When Shirley is out of the office, Britta shows that she holds some animosity towards Prof. Slater as she calls her pretentious and breaks the head off of one of the trophies. The root of Shirley’s issue is also found in Britta, and just as Shirley was projecting onto Britta, Britta has been projecting onto Annie.

Back at Annie’s party, Pierce is not a pantsless grandpa, but he is committing a party foul by wandering around horrified with a “full on erection.” Pierce sees everyone as a frightening apparition, and he alternates between sobbing and primal roaring. In The Beastmaster, there are zombie like enemies called Death Guards. A Death Guard is just a regular person who has had a leech put into their brain. This leech eats anything it meets and as the movie states “[this] extreme torture transforms the man into a wild beast.” Chevy has allowed the leech of old age equaling death or a wasted life to eat away at his brain, and now he is torturing himself, soon to be running around as even more of a mindless beast if he does not stop this leech of an idea. In his vision, Annie has become Catrina, the depiction of death who taunts the living.

Back at the grown up party, Chang taunts Jeff about striking out with Prof. Slater. Jeff says the campus has fed on his coolness and he no longer has any moves. Chang ridicules Jeff for treating everything like a game with “moves”, and he offers Jeff  ”one move I bet you’ve never tried in your life.” Jeff walks to Prof. Slater with Chang’s new move, and we discover that it is unabashed, childish begging for sex. Prof. Slater accepts, and offers to take Jeff with her only if he stays three steps behind her and never tells anybody. He promises to comply, and they leave together.

As Jeff and Prof. Slater walk past the library together, they see that everyone is gathered outside and inviting Pierce to come out and join them. Pierce refuses, saying that he is not ready to die. Troy beseeches Jeff to help and Jeff stops to consider. Jeff says goodnight to Prof. Slater, and she asks if he has been appointed guardian of the group. He says: “they’re my classmates.” Jeff has accepted the role he refused so vehemently earlier. Jeff’s goal was to be a sexual hero to an ideal he held for himself, and also to be graded on his life thus far and be found as an adult. Instead, he goes back to being a student and accumulating successes in the experiment of his life. Had he gone with Prof. Slater, Jeff would have had to stay three steps behind her. He would be stuck developmentally. Jung discovered that many of his patients were stuck at some earlier phase in their childhood which then defined the type of adult that they were. Dia de los Muertos takes place over three nights, the gates to the afterlife open on Halloween night, the dead children come first, then the adults come two days later. Deceased adults are depicted as maintaining into the afterlife the same station they had at the time of their death. By going to die on this Halloween night, Jeff would leave his classmates (whom he deemed juvenile) behind, and return stuck in his role of hero to no one forever. He would be choosing to halt his learning in life, and forcibly end his Bernoulli Trial. Pierce feels that he has lived beyond the point of achieving anymore successes in his own life’s Bernoulli Trial and that this same halting was chosen for him because of his age.

From within a large desk fort, Pierce says that he will crush himself to death with desks and tables. Like Star Burns, Jeff appeals to Pierce’s costume identity and asks if that is a death befitting a Beastmaster. Pierce now admits that he never saw the film, but that he just wanted to be cool. Jeff removes his hat, seizing an opportunity to be a different kind of hero, and crawls into the desk fort in which Pierce is cowering. Pierce admits finally: “I’m old Jeff.” Jeff rejoins: “I don’t know how you spent the first sixty years, but I know in the last two months you’ve probably doubled the national average for amount of life lived per lifetime.” Pierce accepts this, and Jeff adds “if life is just a series of ridiculous attempts to be alive, you’re a hero to everything that’s ever lived.” Just as with Annie and Shirley earlier, everything Jeff is saying applies to both Jeff and Pierce. Jeff is saying that life is just a Bernoulli Trial and that though it is unfair (as everyone always says), you can make it unfair in your favor by gaining extra credit (like doubling the amount of life lived per lifetime). In the past two months that Jeff mentions Pierce has joined the study group, and this then is how you gain extra credit: by studying with other people, by taking on other people’s life experiences through empathy or through actual shared experience. Jeff said that Pierce is a hero to everything that has ever lived, now making him The Beastmaster he is dressed as. The others who have not figured out their lives, who are becoming Death Guards via some nagging thought that is making them into mindless beasts can be helped by Pierce’s experience, and he by theirs. The Beastmaster described his own powers in the film as empathy and shared experience saying: “I see through their eyes. They know my thoughts; I know theirs.” By delivering this speech, Jeff is also taking his own advice and staying back as a student rather than an “adult”, and empathizing with Pierce because their problems are similar. In fact, all of the main character’s problems stem from a similar fear of rejection. Pierce accepts Jeff’s assessment of his life triumphantly, and accidentally destroys the equilibrium of the desk fort, causing it to tremble and begin to fall on top of them. Abed appears from nowhere and grabs them both, pulling them out of the fort as it crumbles. They are situated such that Abed is behind both of them as they are dragged from the wreckage. Abed is now fear as a motivator. They are afraid of death or afraid of a wasted life, and that is good because it is motivating them to move forward and not to sit passively waiting for death to come tally their successes and failures. Jeff asks if Abed is staying for the party, and Abed says that if he stays “there can be no party.” The party thus far has been a failure because it is filled with fear. Dia de los Muertos is not about fear, but about embracing death as an equalizer and celebrating the lives of the deceased. This is why Chang wanted Annie to stop translating everything earlier, because at that time the party was a Halloween party driven by fear. Once Abed removes himself from the library and the party, we see everyone enjoying themselves and enjoying the company of each other. They are now all gaining extra credit by sharing and incorporating the lives of others into their own, no longer fearing death but reveling in life, adding to the successes column of their Bernoulli Trials.

we are for each other: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

- e. e. cummings

 

Louie 3x13: ”New Year’s Eve”
This episode plays in 4 distinct parts, each turning the character of Louie inward upon himself, deeper and deeper, to examine the happiness and relationships of the character. In the Mandukya Upanishad, the sound of Om is described as having 4 distinct syllables. Each of these syllables has an allegory that accompanies it, and traveling along that allegory deeper into yourself is the goal of meditation at that level. This episode is framed around such a meditation. 

The episode starts in silence. Louie is tightly framed with an animal print blanket draped across his shoulders, and he is holding a mug of some undisclosed beverage. After the credits are complete, we hear the white noise krinkle of wrapping paper, and we are pulled out along with the camera to survey Christmas morning. Louie looks at his children, and his face momentarily lights up after seeing the joy his gifts have brought to them, but we are soon brought into his head where he flashes back to the troubles he had with the presents, quashing the joy he momentarily may have gleaned from them. He recounts his troubles wrapping presents, acquiring a blue monkey in a shopping frenzy, and repairing a doll for one of his children. It is hard to tell how much of the doll sequence actually happened and how much of it is a piling on of emotion in the reminiscing. The last we see of the doll in the flashback is a crayon-faced, decapitated mess, but it is presented as beautiful and whole in the scenes of the present. Regardless, the doll represents Louie at this stage. The eyes are turned inward, but he wants to have them facing out again and present the normal facade. He tries a few implements (notice the first implement is Oriental in origin) and attempts to make facsimile eyes, but none of this works, so he must open the doll’s head. He removes the hair, making the doll bald, and cuts the top of the head off. Inside, he finds both eyes and a third eye. He cannot think of what use a third eye could be, so he rejects it and begins to assemble the facade of normalcy. The more he attempts this, the more of a mess the doll’s outward appearance becomes each solution seems to lead to a new problem. This process leads him to tears, to anger, and to curse the fact that he was born. Before we see him able to complete the building of the facade, we are brought to the next gift which is a book entitled The Story About Ping. Louie takes credit away from Santa for having given this present. The story we are told about Ping is that he lives with a large family on a boat that has two wise eyes and sits on the Yangtze River. His daughter says that “it looks like it’s so nice to live on that river” to which Louie replies “yeah, it does, doesn’t it?” his expression looks somewhat considered but belies a bit of condescension. Louie’s ex-wife Janet and her boyfriend (new husband?) Patrick come to pick up the girls and take them on a vacation overseas. Louie talks to Janet and asks for communication and pictures from the girls’ trip to stay connected to them. He observes Patrick examining the doll and worries that he will see through the facade. The family leaves together and stands in a Christmas card pose on the elevator as Louie looks on, apart from them. The doors close them off from him and he returns inside. He tears down the decorations of the Christmas tree and throws the bare beast out the window, erasing all evidence of the holiday and retreats to an artificially darkened bedroom and to bed. His sister awakens him with a phone call before he can get all the way to sleep. She asks “are you all by yourself?” and Louie questions why she needs to say “all”, she points out that he has no family around him, then she invites him to come with their family to Mexico for New Year’s so that he will not be by himself. He refuses, and her husband breaks into the conversation, insisting that Louie come to “Mejico”. He tells his sister once more that he cannot come, and she hangs up the phone after saying “I love you, Louie. You know that.” Louie says he knows, but does not reciprocate the sentiment. This is the end of the reality segment. The O of Om is broken into the “ah” sound and the “oo” sound (A-U) and treated as two separate syllables. The allegory for the A syllable is that of waking life in reality which we have just left.

The second syllable U represents the dream state of the unconscious. This is where we are with the newscasters and as we dive into Louie’s dream of a possible future. Oriental music plays, and we pan across a severed white rabbit head in the window of a cafe. Louie’s daughters have met here to talk about Louie’s future self. They see him as depressing and alone, “so alone”. There is a mirrored version of each daughter in the background. We do not know what those others are talking about, possibly it is an alternate Louie, but he cannot yet grasp this future. He seems to wake up, but we are still in the realm of the dream. We see that the female newscaster’s name Fanny Chapcranter is a juxtaposition of crap chanter, describing what the news is chanting when both anchors begin to repeat that he is one of many “all by themselves” and that he should “go ahead and put that gun in your mouth”. It is evident that this is a dream, because earlier Fanny called Flappy Jeff and in the second sequence she calls him Trisha. Louie gets out of bed, and into the shower, this is when we leave the unconscious.

The third syllable M represents a deep sleep where consciousness is gathered in on itself, and here it is interpreted as pure subconscious. The dream realm is sometimes said to link your subconscious to your waking life, working out through metaphor what is going on beneath the surface, here Louie is diving deeper to find his archetypes. He begins by packing his baggage and taking it with him onto the bus. As Brian Menegus pointed out in his review of the episode, the framing on the bus would seem to show that Louie is using his baggage as a crutch or an old man’s cane. Louie looks neutral. It is revealed that his girlfriend from a previous episode, Liz, is traveling on the same bus with him. His face lights up as he sees her, but before they embrace, she begins hemorrhaging blood from her nose and she collapses in his arms as ominous music plays. Liz represents all of his previous attempts at happiness through romantic relationships. He talks to her at her bedside. She asks panicked and angry, “am I dying?” to which he answers that he does not know. In this meditation, Louie is traveling ever deeper inward, and he is trying to find happiness within himself, all alone, instead of depending on others for happiness. He is about to reach the fourth syllable of transcendence, and this structure he has built in himself based on what other people have told him he needs, is dying. It says “I’m not ready for this, this is crazy”, and Louie says “You’re going to be ok.” Liz lays back, looks at Louie and says with a crack in her voice “bye?”, stretching the word into two syllables. The nurses pronounce her dead at 11:59 PM as Louie stumbles out into the hallway just as the New Year begins. Auld Lang Syne plays as the hospital staff celebrate and laugh in pairs or groups. Louie walks past a hospital calendar that says 2012, and we cut to the airport where he still has his baggage in tow. He spreads out on the chairs and falls asleep.

We are now in the fourth syllable of Om. The fourth syllable is the silence that surrounds Om. If you are repeating Om in meditation, each utterance comes out of a silence and recedes into a silence that then gives way to the next utterance that recedes into a silence and so on. Anahata is the fourth chakra in Hindu Yoga; it means un-struck. It is the sound that is not made by two things hitting one another. It is this sound we are in now, and that is what Louie has been trying to do this whole time. The sound he is striving for is happiness, but he is not finding a lasting happiness by striking against something else, be it his family or his romantic relationships. He stands with his baggage in the airport, sees Beijing on the flight board in the airport, identifies with Ping in his mind’s eye, and is transported without baggage to Beijing, China where he believes the Yangtze River is located. If you listen to this sequence and you do not understand Mandarin, it sounds as if Louie is chanting Yangtze River over and over. In this sequence, there is no other dialogue of any substance. He finds someone who will take him to the Yangtze River, but he must ride with a family of ducks. He is brought to a bog and wanders off continuing to search, not happy with the Yangtze River he has been given. Just as Heaven is not a place and Nirvana is not a place (they are states of mind) the Yangtze River here is also not a place, but a state of happiness as referenced earlier while reading about Ping. Louie comes across his Yangtze River in a small house from which much laughter and joy is emanating. He is welcomed inside with happiness and joy from all present. He, like many of his viewers, has no idea what is being said, but after spending some time in the presence of this joy, he begins to repeat what is being said phonetically, and while doing this his expression changes from one of confusion to one of happiness. In his lecture series on the Masks of God entitled “Interpreting Symbolic Forms”, Joseph Campbell speaks of this level Louie is now at, having heard the Om in all 4 syllables: “now we get to the realm of mythological symbols telling you that things are radiant of a mystery which hides behind their masks, and which you, if you can bring your own spiritual experience up to that center in yourself, will by resonance recognize.” Louie is symbolically resonating through this mask of a language barrier and is discovering the happiness of his Yangtze Nirvana. Auld Lang Syne plays once again, this is how he will begin his new year: his new life.

If the AV Club comment section is a reliable source of Mandarin translation, then the words Louie is repeating at the end of the episode translate to “come to Beijing often, and come be a guest at my house”. Here Louie is being invited to meditate and achieve this place within often. His third eye has been opened. The third eye is a metaphor for having your consciousness raised to a level where you see things differently. You saw these things before with your two eyes, but now they are different so a third eye must have been opened. Louie did not understand what the purpose of a third eye was earlier when he was examining himself as the doll, whether or not he keeps this eye open remains to be seen.
Much has been made in online reviews about how this episode breaks the usual formula by removing the theme song, removing the stand-up, and to some extent removing the realism. In addition to these points, Louie has not brought up a subject like meditation before or played with a structural metaphor so closely. However, David Lynch is very much into meditation and for three episodes prior to this one, Louis C.K. has been working closely with Lynch (who played a character who seemed to be sucking away Louie’s reality), and that relationship may have carried over into this episode.
I will return to the usual Community analysis soon.

Louie 3x13: ”New Year’s Eve”

This episode plays in 4 distinct parts, each turning the character of Louie inward upon himself, deeper and deeper, to examine the happiness and relationships of the character. In the Mandukya Upanishad, the sound of Om is described as having 4 distinct syllables. Each of these syllables has an allegory that accompanies it, and traveling along that allegory deeper into yourself is the goal of meditation at that level. This episode is framed around such a meditation. 

image

The episode starts in silence. Louie is tightly framed with an animal print blanket draped across his shoulders, and he is holding a mug of some undisclosed beverage. After the credits are complete, we hear the white noise krinkle of wrapping paper, and we are pulled out along with the camera to survey Christmas morning. Louie looks at his children, and his face momentarily lights up after seeing the joy his gifts have brought to them, but we are soon brought into his head where he flashes back to the troubles he had with the presents, quashing the joy he momentarily may have gleaned from them. He recounts his troubles wrapping presents, acquiring a blue monkey in a shopping frenzy, and repairing a doll for one of his children. It is hard to tell how much of the doll sequence actually happened and how much of it is a piling on of emotion in the reminiscing. The last we see of the doll in the flashback is a crayon-faced, decapitated mess, but it is presented as beautiful and whole in the scenes of the present. Regardless, the doll represents Louie at this stage. The eyes are turned inward, but he wants to have them facing out again and present the normal facade. He tries a few implements (notice the first implement is Oriental in origin) and attempts to make facsimile eyes, but none of this works, so he must open the doll’s head. He removes the hair, making the doll bald, and cuts the top of the head off. Inside, he finds both eyes and a third eye. He cannot think of what use a third eye could be, so he rejects it and begins to assemble the facade of normalcy. The more he attempts this, the more of a mess the doll’s outward appearance becomes each solution seems to lead to a new problem. This process leads him to tears, to anger, and to curse the fact that he was born. Before we see him able to complete the building of the facade, we are brought to the next gift which is a book entitled The Story About Ping. Louie takes credit away from Santa for having given this present. The story we are told about Ping is that he lives with a large family on a boat that has two wise eyes and sits on the Yangtze River. His daughter says that “it looks like it’s so nice to live on that river” to which Louie replies “yeah, it does, doesn’t it?” his expression looks somewhat considered but belies a bit of condescension. Louie’s ex-wife Janet and her boyfriend (new husband?) Patrick come to pick up the girls and take them on a vacation overseas. Louie talks to Janet and asks for communication and pictures from the girls’ trip to stay connected to them. He observes Patrick examining the doll and worries that he will see through the facade. The family leaves together and stands in a Christmas card pose on the elevator as Louie looks on, apart from them. The doors close them off from him and he returns inside. He tears down the decorations of the Christmas tree and throws the bare beast out the window, erasing all evidence of the holiday and retreats to an artificially darkened bedroom and to bed. His sister awakens him with a phone call before he can get all the way to sleep. She asks “are you all by yourself?” and Louie questions why she needs to say “all”, she points out that he has no family around him, then she invites him to come with their family to Mexico for New Year’s so that he will not be by himself. He refuses, and her husband breaks into the conversation, insisting that Louie come to “Mejico”. He tells his sister once more that he cannot come, and she hangs up the phone after saying “I love you, Louie. You know that.” Louie says he knows, but does not reciprocate the sentiment. This is the end of the reality segment. The O of Om is broken into the “ah” sound and the “oo” sound (A-U) and treated as two separate syllables. The allegory for the A syllable is that of waking life in reality which we have just left.

image

The second syllable U represents the dream state of the unconscious. This is where we are with the newscasters and as we dive into Louie’s dream of a possible future. Oriental music plays, and we pan across a severed white rabbit head in the window of a cafe. Louie’s daughters have met here to talk about Louie’s future self. They see him as depressing and alone, “so alone”. There is a mirrored version of each daughter in the background. We do not know what those others are talking about, possibly it is an alternate Louie, but he cannot yet grasp this future. He seems to wake up, but we are still in the realm of the dream. We see that the female newscaster’s name Fanny Chapcranter is a juxtaposition of crap chanter, describing what the news is chanting when both anchors begin to repeat that he is one of many “all by themselves” and that he should “go ahead and put that gun in your mouth”. It is evident that this is a dream, because earlier Fanny called Flappy Jeff and in the second sequence she calls him Trisha. Louie gets out of bed, and into the shower, this is when we leave the unconscious.

image

The third syllable M represents a deep sleep where consciousness is gathered in on itself, and here it is interpreted as pure subconscious. The dream realm is sometimes said to link your subconscious to your waking life, working out through metaphor what is going on beneath the surface, here Louie is diving deeper to find his archetypes. He begins by packing his baggage and taking it with him onto the bus. As Brian Menegus pointed out in his review of the episode, the framing on the bus would seem to show that Louie is using his baggage as a crutch or an old man’s cane. Louie looks neutral. It is revealed that his girlfriend from a previous episode, Liz, is traveling on the same bus with him. His face lights up as he sees her, but before they embrace, she begins hemorrhaging blood from her nose and she collapses in his arms as ominous music plays. Liz represents all of his previous attempts at happiness through romantic relationships. He talks to her at her bedside. She asks panicked and angry, “am I dying?” to which he answers that he does not know. In this meditation, Louie is traveling ever deeper inward, and he is trying to find happiness within himself, all alone, instead of depending on others for happiness. He is about to reach the fourth syllable of transcendence, and this structure he has built in himself based on what other people have told him he needs, is dying. It says “I’m not ready for this, this is crazy”, and Louie says “You’re going to be ok.” Liz lays back, looks at Louie and says with a crack in her voice “bye?”, stretching the word into two syllables. The nurses pronounce her dead at 11:59 PM as Louie stumbles out into the hallway just as the New Year begins. Auld Lang Syne plays as the hospital staff celebrate and laugh in pairs or groups. Louie walks past a hospital calendar that says 2012, and we cut to the airport where he still has his baggage in tow. He spreads out on the chairs and falls asleep.

image

We are now in the fourth syllable of Om. The fourth syllable is the silence that surrounds Om. If you are repeating Om in meditation, each utterance comes out of a silence and recedes into a silence that then gives way to the next utterance that recedes into a silence and so on. Anahata is the fourth chakra in Hindu Yoga; it means un-struck. It is the sound that is not made by two things hitting one another. It is this sound we are in now, and that is what Louie has been trying to do this whole time. The sound he is striving for is happiness, but he is not finding a lasting happiness by striking against something else, be it his family or his romantic relationships. He stands with his baggage in the airport, sees Beijing on the flight board in the airport, identifies with Ping in his mind’s eye, and is transported without baggage to Beijing, China where he believes the Yangtze River is located. If you listen to this sequence and you do not understand Mandarin, it sounds as if Louie is chanting Yangtze River over and over. In this sequence, there is no other dialogue of any substance. He finds someone who will take him to the Yangtze River, but he must ride with a family of ducks. He is brought to a bog and wanders off continuing to search, not happy with the Yangtze River he has been given. Just as Heaven is not a place and Nirvana is not a place (they are states of mind) the Yangtze River here is also not a place, but a state of happiness as referenced earlier while reading about Ping. Louie comes across his Yangtze River in a small house from which much laughter and joy is emanating. He is welcomed inside with happiness and joy from all present. He, like many of his viewers, has no idea what is being said, but after spending some time in the presence of this joy, he begins to repeat what is being said phonetically, and while doing this his expression changes from one of confusion to one of happiness. In his lecture series on the Masks of God entitled “Interpreting Symbolic Forms”, Joseph Campbell speaks of this level Louie is now at, having heard the Om in all 4 syllables: “now we get to the realm of mythological symbols telling you that things are radiant of a mystery which hides behind their masks, and which you, if you can bring your own spiritual experience up to that center in yourself, will by resonance recognize.” Louie is symbolically resonating through this mask of a language barrier and is discovering the happiness of his Yangtze Nirvana. Auld Lang Syne plays once again, this is how he will begin his new year: his new life.

image

If the AV Club comment section is a reliable source of Mandarin translation, then the words Louie is repeating at the end of the episode translate to “come to Beijing often, and come be a guest at my house”. Here Louie is being invited to meditate and achieve this place within often. His third eye has been opened. The third eye is a metaphor for having your consciousness raised to a level where you see things differently. You saw these things before with your two eyes, but now they are different so a third eye must have been opened. Louie did not understand what the purpose of a third eye was earlier when he was examining himself as the doll, whether or not he keeps this eye open remains to be seen.

Much has been made in online reviews about how this episode breaks the usual formula by removing the theme song, removing the stand-up, and to some extent removing the realism. In addition to these points, Louie has not brought up a subject like meditation before or played with a structural metaphor so closely. However, David Lynch is very much into meditation and for three episodes prior to this one, Louis C.K. has been working closely with Lynch (who played a character who seemed to be sucking away Louie’s reality), and that relationship may have carried over into this episode.

I will return to the usual Community analysis soon.

Community 1x06: “Football, Feminism and You”
The episode opens with Annie quizzing Troy on Astronomy. Troy gets the answer correct and reveals he used a memory technique that is grounded in non pc language. Annie does not address the slur and proceeds to continue the quiz on the topic of black holes, and Pierce begins what sounds like an inappropriately sexual joke about black holes. However, as the group braces for disgust, Pierce speaks eruditely about a particular black hole and its specifications. The group relaxes except for Jeff who remains ready for Pierce’s crude side, and Pierce does not disappoint as he compares the size of the black hole to his weiner. Troy appreciates the childish language and Abed blankly states that Troy and Pierce have started bonding over the use of adolescent humor. They both rejoin with first grade insults. The dean enters and comments on the diversity of the group. Pierce insults the dean, but becomes contrite when he is told of the dean’s station at the school. The dean forgives Pierce dismissively and uses a poor segue to reveal his true purpose of seducing Troy to join the Human Beings (the Greendale football team). The dean reveals that the team was going to be called The Greendale Grizzlies, but many of the students “have been called animals their whole lives.” He admits, however, that presenting the grizzly now as a human being has left him at a loss as to what the public face of the mascot will be. Pierce happily offers his services which, while sounding applicable, are quickly discounted by his addition of “Y2K preparedness” as a useful skill. The dean is not off-put by this and seems to file away Pierce’s offer as useful as he returns to his quest to make Troy part of the Human Beings. Annie answers for Troy saying that he is no longer interested in football and the dean dismisses her by saying “Yoko Ono much?” and “Bros before hoes, Troy.” Troy states that he means no offense, but he was the best when he left football behind and Greendale is beneath him. Jeff dismisses the dean and the group prepares to study Spanish. Shirley gets up to go to the bathroom and invites Britta to go with her. Britta declines and Shirley looks perplexed, taking Annie with her as she leaves. Britta questions Shirley’s offended reaction and Jeff reminds her that “girls go in groups”, as he learned from standup comedy in the ’90s. She says she will go next time to please Shirley, and Jeff proceeds to hit on her. Abed comments on the sexual tension between them as if he is reviewing the show from a fan site. Jeff chastises him and Abed agrees to leave for the remainder of the episode. This episode is about the Jungian idea of persona building and a look at archetypes as seen in TV character stereotypes. As Jung said “The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.” Troy has been presented with two masks he can wear (jock or astronomer), and though we do not know it yet, he has shown us a third mask. Pierce has shown us two masks, and Jeff has presented one to Britta, who has also shown us her mask (though we do not yet know it). Abed can see through the masks and is therefore dismissed from the episode.

Jeff mocks the football team in front of Troy, and Annie attempts to get Troy to talk about science more, but he misses the point. As they walk down the hall, Jeff sees a poster of his face proclaiming that he is a student at Greendale, and he mutters “that’s not good.”

Britta invites Shirley to the bathroom with her instead of waiting for a second invitation from Shirley. Shirley accepts, and she begins venting about an earlier slight against her once they are inside. Britta takes the side of the stranger and shuts down Shirley’s complaint without seeking a connection. Shirley then attempts to bond with Britta over family, but Britta dismisses Shirley and her mother as programmed by the makeup industry and launches into a tirade that is stifled by Shirley’s activation of the hand dryer. Shirley later tells us that the purpose of the bathroom is “a place where ladies go to share, listen, support each other, and discreetly eliminate waste.” Instead, Britta is wearing a mask that completely blocks any connection Shirley tries to make in this place of sharing.

Pierce and the dean are discussing the public face of the Greendale Human Beings. Pierce is seeing things as black and white (racially) and the dean is trying to get him to think more about diversity by listing ethnicities to ignore. Jeff walks in holding the poster of his face and asks to speak to the dean away from Pierce. Jeff complains that this mask was made for him by the dean without his permission, and proceeds to ask “where’s the heart, where’s the soul, where’s the different poster design?” This is Jeff’s current face. He is a student at Greendale, but to him this does not convey the image he wishes to show. It does not have the personality (heart and soul) that he wishes to impress upon others. The dean shows him a full body mailer which clearly depicts Jeff at school. Jeff rejects this mirror and rips the mailer in half. The dean informs Jeff that if he can persuade Troy to play for the Human Beings, the mailers and posters will be suppressed. Before Jeff can agree or decline, Pierce interrupts them with the first draft of the public face of the Human Beings. Jeff sees it as a falcon with a gun, Pierce turns it and it becomes a falcon with an erection to Jeff. The viewer never gets to see the image. Is this a Rorschach test for Jeff? Does he see humans as either powerful/forceful or sexual only?

Shirley, Britta, Annie, and Troy are eating in the cafeteria. Shirley announces her need to use the bathroom and Britta volunteers to go with her. Shirley forcefully rejects her offer and leaves Britta hurt and defensive. She exits as well and Annie attempts to bring Troy back into astronomy. Troy answers her question incorrectly, but she laughs it off. Jeff enters and pulls Troy away from Annie. Jeff begins to talk to Troy about football, but Troy’s answers are just as silly and off topic as they were with Annie and the Astronomy conversations. Here, the viewer is faced with their perception of TV stereotypes. All of Troy’s dumb answers thus far have served to enforce the idea of the dumb jock and depending on the viewer’s investment in stereotypes, they may root for Troy to enforce the type and become a dumb jock, or they may wish for Troy and Annie to be together and break the type. Regardless of the mask you choose for Troy, there has been no evidence that Troy wants either of these. Both masks are manipulations, and as we will see shortly, they are both projections of the characters offering the masks. To simplify the subject, the Jungian shadow is that element of the psyche that the bearer ignores and pushes underneath their consciousness. As Jung said “Projection makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.” This unknown shadow face has, among other things, that which we do not like about ourselves and that which outside forces (parents, teachers, etc.) have repressed during early development. 

On the football field, Jeff reveals to Troy that he drives by the courthouse every day on his way to school, in order to “get a glimpse of what I once ruled.” He compares Troy’s options to his own, saying that he is locked out of his old life, but Troy is not. They quickly run through a psychological Abbot and Costello routine, listing off cliches and pointing out the biases underneath each. Jeff quickly paints a picture of how great football can be, as he hands Troy a football and tells him that it is the only important thing in his life. Jeff continues painting the picture of success in football, projecting into it everything he would want from his old life as a lawyer (within football’s terminology). Troy seems to be persuaded.

Britta has clearly been waiting outside the bathroom for Shirley to emerge, and when she does, Britta attempts to guilt trip Shirley about now excluding her from a shared bathroom experience. Shirley apologizes, but Britta deflects this again with her mask that she will reveal in a moment. Shirley now explains what the purpose of the bathroom is and breaks through Britta’s mask by telling her that if she cannot learn to be soft, she needs to pee alone. Britta reveals what she has been repressing beneath her mask, that she has peed alone her entire life because “women have always hated me”, perhaps because she “got boobs before everyone.” Shirley quiets her and invites her to continue tearing down her mask inside the bathroom.

Troy enters, playing to the TV stereotype of the jock with an inflated sense of self and an aversion to learning. He rejects Annie’s attempts to present the mask she wants for him, and we see her shadow start to emerge as she explains that she had a crush on him in high school but was not “allowed to say anything because [her] parents are bigots.” She tells him football is bad for him, and he responds “Jeff said you’d say that” as he walks away.

Jeff walks in on Pierce and the dean continuing their work on the face of the Greendale Human Being. He discovers that they have created charts and representations of all aspects of race to consciously ignore as they define a Human Being. Pierce and the dean are misunderstanding what a mask is. They are attempting to get under a mask of physical features instead of the psyche. By focusing so much on the outward, they are never able to go inward. This also works as a metaphor for Jung’s warning against being all persona. Being overly focused on the persona leads to being non-reflective and turning into a conformist. Jung termed the possible end result of this “Enantiodromia” which is a five dollar word for balance. If much effort is put into your persona and nothing else, eventually the ignored subconscious personality that is being suppressed will balance out that effort by exerting the same amount of energy to break forth and become your new persona. It is also possible that you inflate a persona so much that it crushes your subconscious individuality. In the commentary, Harmon states that Jeff’s response to Pierce and the dean’s racial charts “I think not being racist is the new racism” is his idea of the dean’s administration at Greendale, that the dean is trying to create a perfect world through an inflated persona. The students within this world then are to be watched for whether they collapse under the persona or emerge as their unique personality.

Annie confronts Jeff about steering Troy toward football. Jeff admits he is being blackmailed and Annie calls him selfish. Jeff responds by telling Annie the same thing. They have both been told now that they are projecting, and they will either reflect on the reasons for their projections internally and make a breakthrough, or continue projecting.

Annie flees the confrontation with Jeff and heads for the bathroom. She invites Shirley to go with her, but Shirley suggests that Britta try lowering her mask and connecting with Annie instead. Britta comes in behind Annie and Annie is dismayed at first, assuming that she will not be able to make a connection through Britta’s usual mask. Britta puts on the mask she thinks Annie needs and parrots Annie’s sentiment, but still does not make a connection until she allows herself to make a non-masked response. Annie has a breakthrough and will stop projecting.

Jeff has apparently had his own breakthrough off screen, and he has come to the gymnasium to stop Troy from pursuing the dream of football into which he was manipulated by Jeff. Troy is chanting with the rest of the team “Human Beings! Human Beings!” and is quieted by Jeff. Troy interrupts Jeff’s speech and reveals that he too has been wearing a mask this whole time. Troy hurt himself on purpose to get out of football in high school, because he could not take the pressure of what would come after. He reveals his realization to Jeff by telling Jeff what he should do “you should try accepting where you’re at, man. Take a pottery class or something.” Throughout the scene, Jeff has been standing next to the poster of himself which he had been tearing down through the rest of the episode, but he leaves the poster untouched, now accepting where he is at as a student of Greendale.

Having both had breakthroughs, Jeff and Annie rejoin to apologize to one another. The finished product of Pierce and the dean’s work shows up. It is a human being who is all persona and can neither talk nor hear. It must be led around based on the whims of others, just as Jung warned. Jeff and Annie embrace out of aversion to this type of human being.

When I first saw this episode, I got hung up on the racism aspect and tried to apply that to everything else, and I did not see it for the metaphor it is. Another aspect of the episode I enjoyed was that it has its own anima and animus in its two main stories, and the episode allows the viewer to find the balance between the two in their reactions to them.
Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x06: “Football, Feminism and You”

The episode opens with Annie quizzing Troy on Astronomy. Troy gets the answer correct and reveals he used a memory technique that is grounded in non pc language. Annie does not address the slur and proceeds to continue the quiz on the topic of black holes, and Pierce begins what sounds like an inappropriately sexual joke about black holes. However, as the group braces for disgust, Pierce speaks eruditely about a particular black hole and its specifications. The group relaxes except for Jeff who remains ready for Pierce’s crude side, and Pierce does not disappoint as he compares the size of the black hole to his weiner. Troy appreciates the childish language and Abed blankly states that Troy and Pierce have started bonding over the use of adolescent humor. They both rejoin with first grade insults. The dean enters and comments on the diversity of the group. Pierce insults the dean, but becomes contrite when he is told of the dean’s station at the school. The dean forgives Pierce dismissively and uses a poor segue to reveal his true purpose of seducing Troy to join the Human Beings (the Greendale football team). The dean reveals that the team was going to be called The Greendale Grizzlies, but many of the students “have been called animals their whole lives.” He admits, however, that presenting the grizzly now as a human being has left him at a loss as to what the public face of the mascot will be. Pierce happily offers his services which, while sounding applicable, are quickly discounted by his addition of “Y2K preparedness” as a useful skill. The dean is not off-put by this and seems to file away Pierce’s offer as useful as he returns to his quest to make Troy part of the Human Beings. Annie answers for Troy saying that he is no longer interested in football and the dean dismisses her by saying “Yoko Ono much?” and “Bros before hoes, Troy.” Troy states that he means no offense, but he was the best when he left football behind and Greendale is beneath him. Jeff dismisses the dean and the group prepares to study Spanish. Shirley gets up to go to the bathroom and invites Britta to go with her. Britta declines and Shirley looks perplexed, taking Annie with her as she leaves. Britta questions Shirley’s offended reaction and Jeff reminds her that “girls go in groups”, as he learned from standup comedy in the ’90s. She says she will go next time to please Shirley, and Jeff proceeds to hit on her. Abed comments on the sexual tension between them as if he is reviewing the show from a fan site. Jeff chastises him and Abed agrees to leave for the remainder of the episode. This episode is about the Jungian idea of persona building and a look at archetypes as seen in TV character stereotypes. As Jung said “The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.” Troy has been presented with two masks he can wear (jock or astronomer), and though we do not know it yet, he has shown us a third mask. Pierce has shown us two masks, and Jeff has presented one to Britta, who has also shown us her mask (though we do not yet know it). Abed can see through the masks and is therefore dismissed from the episode.

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Jeff mocks the football team in front of Troy, and Annie attempts to get Troy to talk about science more, but he misses the point. As they walk down the hall, Jeff sees a poster of his face proclaiming that he is a student at Greendale, and he mutters “that’s not good.”

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Britta invites Shirley to the bathroom with her instead of waiting for a second invitation from Shirley. Shirley accepts, and she begins venting about an earlier slight against her once they are inside. Britta takes the side of the stranger and shuts down Shirley’s complaint without seeking a connection. Shirley then attempts to bond with Britta over family, but Britta dismisses Shirley and her mother as programmed by the makeup industry and launches into a tirade that is stifled by Shirley’s activation of the hand dryer. Shirley later tells us that the purpose of the bathroom is “a place where ladies go to share, listen, support each other, and discreetly eliminate waste.” Instead, Britta is wearing a mask that completely blocks any connection Shirley tries to make in this place of sharing.

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Pierce and the dean are discussing the public face of the Greendale Human Beings. Pierce is seeing things as black and white (racially) and the dean is trying to get him to think more about diversity by listing ethnicities to ignore. Jeff walks in holding the poster of his face and asks to speak to the dean away from Pierce. Jeff complains that this mask was made for him by the dean without his permission, and proceeds to ask “where’s the heart, where’s the soul, where’s the different poster design?” This is Jeff’s current face. He is a student at Greendale, but to him this does not convey the image he wishes to show. It does not have the personality (heart and soul) that he wishes to impress upon others. The dean shows him a full body mailer which clearly depicts Jeff at school. Jeff rejects this mirror and rips the mailer in half. The dean informs Jeff that if he can persuade Troy to play for the Human Beings, the mailers and posters will be suppressed. Before Jeff can agree or decline, Pierce interrupts them with the first draft of the public face of the Human Beings. Jeff sees it as a falcon with a gun, Pierce turns it and it becomes a falcon with an erection to Jeff. The viewer never gets to see the image. Is this a Rorschach test for Jeff? Does he see humans as either powerful/forceful or sexual only?

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Shirley, Britta, Annie, and Troy are eating in the cafeteria. Shirley announces her need to use the bathroom and Britta volunteers to go with her. Shirley forcefully rejects her offer and leaves Britta hurt and defensive. She exits as well and Annie attempts to bring Troy back into astronomy. Troy answers her question incorrectly, but she laughs it off. Jeff enters and pulls Troy away from Annie. Jeff begins to talk to Troy about football, but Troy’s answers are just as silly and off topic as they were with Annie and the Astronomy conversations. Here, the viewer is faced with their perception of TV stereotypes. All of Troy’s dumb answers thus far have served to enforce the idea of the dumb jock and depending on the viewer’s investment in stereotypes, they may root for Troy to enforce the type and become a dumb jock, or they may wish for Troy and Annie to be together and break the type. Regardless of the mask you choose for Troy, there has been no evidence that Troy wants either of these. Both masks are manipulations, and as we will see shortly, they are both projections of the characters offering the masks. To simplify the subject, the Jungian shadow is that element of the psyche that the bearer ignores and pushes underneath their consciousness. As Jung said “Projection makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.” This unknown shadow face has, among other things, that which we do not like about ourselves and that which outside forces (parents, teachers, etc.) have repressed during early development. 

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On the football field, Jeff reveals to Troy that he drives by the courthouse every day on his way to school, in order to “get a glimpse of what I once ruled.” He compares Troy’s options to his own, saying that he is locked out of his old life, but Troy is not. They quickly run through a psychological Abbot and Costello routine, listing off cliches and pointing out the biases underneath each. Jeff quickly paints a picture of how great football can be, as he hands Troy a football and tells him that it is the only important thing in his life. Jeff continues painting the picture of success in football, projecting into it everything he would want from his old life as a lawyer (within football’s terminology). Troy seems to be persuaded.

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Britta has clearly been waiting outside the bathroom for Shirley to emerge, and when she does, Britta attempts to guilt trip Shirley about now excluding her from a shared bathroom experience. Shirley apologizes, but Britta deflects this again with her mask that she will reveal in a moment. Shirley now explains what the purpose of the bathroom is and breaks through Britta’s mask by telling her that if she cannot learn to be soft, she needs to pee alone. Britta reveals what she has been repressing beneath her mask, that she has peed alone her entire life because “women have always hated me”, perhaps because she “got boobs before everyone.” Shirley quiets her and invites her to continue tearing down her mask inside the bathroom.

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Troy enters, playing to the TV stereotype of the jock with an inflated sense of self and an aversion to learning. He rejects Annie’s attempts to present the mask she wants for him, and we see her shadow start to emerge as she explains that she had a crush on him in high school but was not “allowed to say anything because [her] parents are bigots.” She tells him football is bad for him, and he responds “Jeff said you’d say that” as he walks away.

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Jeff walks in on Pierce and the dean continuing their work on the face of the Greendale Human Being. He discovers that they have created charts and representations of all aspects of race to consciously ignore as they define a Human Being. Pierce and the dean are misunderstanding what a mask is. They are attempting to get under a mask of physical features instead of the psyche. By focusing so much on the outward, they are never able to go inward. This also works as a metaphor for Jung’s warning against being all persona. Being overly focused on the persona leads to being non-reflective and turning into a conformist. Jung termed the possible end result of this “Enantiodromia” which is a five dollar word for balance. If much effort is put into your persona and nothing else, eventually the ignored subconscious personality that is being suppressed will balance out that effort by exerting the same amount of energy to break forth and become your new persona. It is also possible that you inflate a persona so much that it crushes your subconscious individuality. In the commentary, Harmon states that Jeff’s response to Pierce and the dean’s racial charts “I think not being racist is the new racism” is his idea of the dean’s administration at Greendale, that the dean is trying to create a perfect world through an inflated persona. The students within this world then are to be watched for whether they collapse under the persona or emerge as their unique personality.

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Annie confronts Jeff about steering Troy toward football. Jeff admits he is being blackmailed and Annie calls him selfish. Jeff responds by telling Annie the same thing. They have both been told now that they are projecting, and they will either reflect on the reasons for their projections internally and make a breakthrough, or continue projecting.

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Annie flees the confrontation with Jeff and heads for the bathroom. She invites Shirley to go with her, but Shirley suggests that Britta try lowering her mask and connecting with Annie instead. Britta comes in behind Annie and Annie is dismayed at first, assuming that she will not be able to make a connection through Britta’s usual mask. Britta puts on the mask she thinks Annie needs and parrots Annie’s sentiment, but still does not make a connection until she allows herself to make a non-masked response. Annie has a breakthrough and will stop projecting.

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Jeff has apparently had his own breakthrough off screen, and he has come to the gymnasium to stop Troy from pursuing the dream of football into which he was manipulated by Jeff. Troy is chanting with the rest of the team “Human Beings! Human Beings!” and is quieted by Jeff. Troy interrupts Jeff’s speech and reveals that he too has been wearing a mask this whole time. Troy hurt himself on purpose to get out of football in high school, because he could not take the pressure of what would come after. He reveals his realization to Jeff by telling Jeff what he should do “you should try accepting where you’re at, man. Take a pottery class or something.” Throughout the scene, Jeff has been standing next to the poster of himself which he had been tearing down through the rest of the episode, but he leaves the poster untouched, now accepting where he is at as a student of Greendale.

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Having both had breakthroughs, Jeff and Annie rejoin to apologize to one another. The finished product of Pierce and the dean’s work shows up. It is a human being who is all persona and can neither talk nor hear. It must be led around based on the whims of others, just as Jung warned. Jeff and Annie embrace out of aversion to this type of human being.

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When I first saw this episode, I got hung up on the racism aspect and tried to apply that to everything else, and I did not see it for the metaphor it is. Another aspect of the episode I enjoyed was that it has its own anima and animus in its two main stories, and the episode allows the viewer to find the balance between the two in their reactions to them.

Episode 1 Analysis

Episode 2 Analysis

Episode 3 Analysis

Episode 4 Analysis

Episode 5 Analysis

Episode 6 Analysis

Episode 7 Analysis

The clip show episodes of Dinosaurs reveal quite a bit about what the creators thought of their show. Both episodes open with a paleontologist who is talking about the past lives of the long dead Dinosaurs, then a series of clips plays sometimes refuting and sometimes enforcing whatever he claims is known about their lives. Most of the clips on these episodes are short and very banal, and the key message of the original episode is gone. The paleontologist is the viewing public who misunderstand or misremember the past. The Dinosaurs of the title then are not the people in the rubber suits, but the same tired tropes and sitcom morals that have always been on the television screens of the viewing public. The creators of Dinosaurs are retreading the same material as their sitcom predecessors, hoping that what the viewer will remember this time will be the moral and not the catch phrases and pratfalls. But alas, a cry of “not the mama” and a swift smack with a  frying pan is how history will remember the show, and so that is what they include in the clip show to have the paleontologists of the future analyze. What the pitchman is selling between clips is a home study archaeology course, and when this sale ramps up, the clips begin to center around the seventh and most prominent member of the Dinosaur family: the family television set. The TV is the home study kit by which the viewer may learn from the moral tales of the past so that they won’t have to keep being repeated in every future television series. However, all of this talk about edification soon turns into promises of riches and a flashy grab for cash, which is how the creators perceive network syndication and commercialization, the only way for an old Dinosaur to rear its head again, but still no one listens to the message and the Dinosaurs will appear in the next series to come along.

"I want you to form a team of the most brilliant minds in network television."

"Well now, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?"

Max Headroom is the spirit of TV, and he lives in a world in which ratings rule everything, and the public follows whoever has the most exciting programs. A world where everyone is born next to a TV feed and raised in a network’s light before the child ever sees its parents, where it is illegal to have an off switch on your television, and, in one episode, the authorities came to shut down an educational program that did not have any sponsorship, because it is illegal to learn without advertising embedded in the curriculum. Max floats in and out all over the television landscape of this world, and on his journey he has to learn what he is and how humanity relates to him in what he ultimately sees as an illogical way. It is a TV show critiquing its own medium, by embodying the medium as a central character.

The star of the show, however, is Max’s human counterpart Edison Carter. When you connect with a television show, it becomes a reflection of yourself and you apply its archetypes to your life. Max is the reflection of Edison Carter, examining himself as a reflection and influencing the programming of the networks rather than letting it influence him (with a few exceptions due to manipulative forces which are overcome by the end of their respective episodes). Rather than condemning the medium, the show points its finger at the networks and the executives that chase ratings. I do not trust TV shows that tell me to stop watching TV shows, but the writers of Max Headroom did not seem to be saying that at all. In fact, they seemed to be saying that there was an ultimate good to be found in TV, it just requires viewership to take conscious control of how they are reflecting onto the programming.

Columbo is not like your normal detective shows. The viewer is shown the murder and the murderer shortly after the opening credits. The rest of the episode is spent with Columbo hounding the guilty person and those around them, treading and retreading over every aspect of the case. Columbo represents that gear in the mind that will not stop going over every detail, a subset of the conscience: that nagging feeling that you have forgotten some detail. The killers rarely feel remorse for what they have done, and often they glibly sit through his investigations, but he always finds them out in the end. The show ends when the killer realizes their fatal mistake and surrenders to Columbo. Columbo usually amicably sits with the murderer as the credits roll. There is no scene of arrest, incarceration, or conviction. The point is that the conscience is not clear but now quiet and repentance may begin.

We have talked about Married With Children before, about how Al is grudgingly playing along with the game of Life that someone has roped him into. Unhappily Ever After was co-created and written by Ron Leavitt, who also co-created and wrote much of Married With Children. Unhappily appears to be a continuation of the themes of Married, but it soon becomes self-aware and begins commenting on its relationship with the viewer.
Unhappily starts up where Married may have left off: a couple, married with 3 children and just as many dogs, splits up and the husband moves into a ramshackle apartment. Finally on his own, Jack begins to talk to a stuffed animal which talks back to him. Many times Jack refers to the fact that he is crazy and knows that Mr. Floppy is actually a part of himself, but he has more fun with the bunny than he ever had in his family life (it is also hinted at many times that Mr. Floppy is Jack’s sexual drive). In the second season, Jack moves back into the house and is cast into the abyss of the basement while the rest of the family lives on the second floor. They meet as a group together on the ground floor each descending or ascending to be together as a familial unit.
Just as in Married With Children, the show is filmed before a live audience, but Unhappily uses the audience at times better than any show I have seen (except maybe the Gary Shandling Show). The characters begin to break the fourth wall and refer to the viewer at home and the audience in the studio —sometimes relying on a solicited response to complete the written joke. Not all characters can see through the fourth wall, and some can only see through it at certain times. This setup mirrors the setup of Jack and the Bunny, and here is where the show points the finger at the viewer, asking how much vicarious enjoyment are we getting from the fantasy we are diving into each week. The show is Mr. Floppy and the viewer is Jack. In the first few seasons, Unhappily drags the viewer down from upstairs into the family room and makes us sit amidst cheers from the audience at inane jokes and activities. In its fourth season, the show makes a big deal of producer involvement dictating which characters will survive, as the family unit is torn down and the mother is killed, eaten, turned into an apparition, revived, and ultimately flees into exile in season 5. After the family unit is dissolved, the show devolves into a parade of low cut tops and asinine ramblings set to cat calls and ever louder cheers from the studio audience. The viewer has now been dragged into the abyss and the show spends more and more time in the basement with Jack and Mr. Floppy.
It is clear that the show was only kept around for a fifth season so that it could reach the magic 100 episode mark which allows a series to be sold into syndication. In the final episode, the writers show that once Jack begins to move out of the basement, show initiative in his life, and try to be a success, Mr. Floppy dies. The show is about to die on its own, and if the viewer can rise above the vacuous nature the show extolls, they can find success in life. However, just before the series can come to an end, Jack expresses unhappiness in his success, drinks himself into a stupor, and Mr. Floppy returns to life. The show has hit 100 and will live in syndication forever. The majority of the viewing public wants escapist television that they do not have to think about, and they can return to the basement now whenever they want so that they may live unhappily ever after.

We have talked about Married With Children before, about how Al is grudgingly playing along with the game of Life that someone has roped him into. Unhappily Ever After was co-created and written by Ron Leavitt, who also co-created and wrote much of Married With Children. Unhappily appears to be a continuation of the themes of Married, but it soon becomes self-aware and begins commenting on its relationship with the viewer.

Unhappily starts up where Married may have left off: a couple, married with 3 children and just as many dogs, splits up and the husband moves into a ramshackle apartment. Finally on his own, Jack begins to talk to a stuffed animal which talks back to him. Many times Jack refers to the fact that he is crazy and knows that Mr. Floppy is actually a part of himself, but he has more fun with the bunny than he ever had in his family life (it is also hinted at many times that Mr. Floppy is Jack’s sexual drive). In the second season, Jack moves back into the house and is cast into the abyss of the basement while the rest of the family lives on the second floor. They meet as a group together on the ground floor each descending or ascending to be together as a familial unit.

Just as in Married With Children, the show is filmed before a live audience, but Unhappily uses the audience at times better than any show I have seen (except maybe the Gary Shandling Show). The characters begin to break the fourth wall and refer to the viewer at home and the audience in the studio —sometimes relying on a solicited response to complete the written joke. Not all characters can see through the fourth wall, and some can only see through it at certain times. This setup mirrors the setup of Jack and the Bunny, and here is where the show points the finger at the viewer, asking how much vicarious enjoyment are we getting from the fantasy we are diving into each week. The show is Mr. Floppy and the viewer is Jack. In the first few seasons, Unhappily drags the viewer down from upstairs into the family room and makes us sit amidst cheers from the audience at inane jokes and activities. In its fourth season, the show makes a big deal of producer involvement dictating which characters will survive, as the family unit is torn down and the mother is killed, eaten, turned into an apparition, revived, and ultimately flees into exile in season 5. After the family unit is dissolved, the show devolves into a parade of low cut tops and asinine ramblings set to cat calls and ever louder cheers from the studio audience. The viewer has now been dragged into the abyss and the show spends more and more time in the basement with Jack and Mr. Floppy.

It is clear that the show was only kept around for a fifth season so that it could reach the magic 100 episode mark which allows a series to be sold into syndication. In the final episode, the writers show that once Jack begins to move out of the basement, show initiative in his life, and try to be a success, Mr. Floppy dies. The show is about to die on its own, and if the viewer can rise above the vacuous nature the show extolls, they can find success in life. However, just before the series can come to an end, Jack expresses unhappiness in his success, drinks himself into a stupor, and Mr. Floppy returns to life. The show has hit 100 and will live in syndication forever. The majority of the viewing public wants escapist television that they do not have to think about, and they can return to the basement now whenever they want so that they may live unhappily ever after.

Dexter season 6 has been an awful series of television, of that there is little doubt, but what were they trying to get across? Dexter starts out the season looking for a religion in which to raise his son because he was told it is important, and the season proceeds to have Dexter metaphorically stalk, examine, and destroy his religious side. Dexter sees the new killer as two people at first, God and his servant. Dexter confronts the servant but dismisses him and continues to seek out God. He also enrolls his son in a religious school and feigns belief so that his son may be accepted. Dexter eventually figures out what the audience knew all along, that God does not exist and that which is being called the word of God is coming from within the misguided servant. Dexter battles his religious side, and it manages to escape his grasp. But when God seems to call for a repeat of Abraham and Isaac, Dexter defeats his religious side and refuses to submit to the test of faith. The writers did not do much to disguise the fact that God never existed, perhaps this was to show how foolish religious fanaticism is when left unchecked by reason. Almost 12 full episodes of bad TV just to get that point across does seem excessive though.

Dexter season 6 has been an awful series of television, of that there is little doubt, but what were they trying to get across? Dexter starts out the season looking for a religion in which to raise his son because he was told it is important, and the season proceeds to have Dexter metaphorically stalk, examine, and destroy his religious side. Dexter sees the new killer as two people at first, God and his servant. Dexter confronts the servant but dismisses him and continues to seek out God. He also enrolls his son in a religious school and feigns belief so that his son may be accepted. Dexter eventually figures out what the audience knew all along, that God does not exist and that which is being called the word of God is coming from within the misguided servant. Dexter battles his religious side, and it manages to escape his grasp. But when God seems to call for a repeat of Abraham and Isaac, Dexter defeats his religious side and refuses to submit to the test of faith. The writers did not do much to disguise the fact that God never existed, perhaps this was to show how foolish religious fanaticism is when left unchecked by reason. Almost 12 full episodes of bad TV just to get that point across does seem excessive though.

What is television, but a meditation on a theme, to which you return every week? Community is gone for now, but hopefully it will be back, and if I may serve as a Community apologist for a moment, I would like to talk about the meditation of Community.
I have talked to and read from many people that dislike Community and describe it as a live action Family Guy, stringing together pop culture references ad nauseum in lieu of a plot. I disagree with this viewpoint, but I understand that it may come from a place of differing mythologies. I posted a screenshot from episode 3x01 because it is exemplary of my point. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film which I have meditated over many times and have attempted to tease apart the layers of meaning in its final scenes. Having personally worked over the narrative on my own, I have come to various conclusions about the transcendent journey that the character must take to arrive outside of himself and watch himself die, so that he may see his part in the larger whole of humanity and all existence, to be reborn as an enlightened being. By tying Jeff into this story with a few quick scenes, the writers of Community have immediately started speaking to me regarding what their goal for Jeff is in this story and what his journey should be, but I do not know yet if Jeff will follow the same path of the film, they still have something more to say about what the film meant and how it applies in this situation. This economy of language through pop culture mythology allows so much more to be put into a 22 minute show, if I speak the language. Some references, I admit, I do not get on first viewing. I understood that they were referencing Dead Poets Society in episode 1x03, but I had not meditated on that film, and I did not know what the writers wanted me to understand when everyone stands up on their desks and one person falls down. So, I watched Dead Poets Society, and suddenly, after investing an hour and a half, that 3 minute scene in the show reveals several more layers of meaning than the one sight gag I had gotten from it on first viewing. They are not using new archetypes, but then neither are the pieces they are referencing, the point of these metaphors is to talk about larger concepts and to provide a point of entry for your personal exploration of the concept. What Community does so well is say “ok, you know about the death and rebirth and seeing the planet as a whole that the space fetus goes through in 2001, but now look at how that concept also applies to interpersonal relationships and group dynamics here.” Once it evokes the memory of the mythology that you have meditated on and you are in the realm of the indescribable idea that you have worked through personally, then it anchors that to the character and combines it or contrasts it with another idea. If you remember the end of episode 3x01, Jeff emerges from the 2001 reference as the lead character of The Shining. So not only are we taking Jeff who should be an enlightened space fetus now, and having to immediately recast him in the role of a violent Jack Torrance and figure out the implications of that, but we are also reminded that both of these are films of Stanley Kubrick, and so, we are asked to examine the themes of his characters from an auteur standpoint. There is no mention of Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket, The Killing, or A Clockwork Orange, but the mention of Kubrick by contrasting two of his films embodied in the same character, brings to mind the ideas of group dynamics in relation to the individual within the group in those 4 films, and that was what we were exploring in this episode to start with, so many more layers were added by that one change, depending on your previous meditation on Kubrick’s work.
When Community combines these mythologies well, it really is a masterful show. The point of meditation to which we are returning every week with Community then is that pop culture is our current mythology and what these meditations on the mythology mean to us.

What is television, but a meditation on a theme, to which you return every week? Community is gone for now, but hopefully it will be back, and if I may serve as a Community apologist for a moment, I would like to talk about the meditation of Community.

I have talked to and read from many people that dislike Community and describe it as a live action Family Guy, stringing together pop culture references ad nauseum in lieu of a plot. I disagree with this viewpoint, but I understand that it may come from a place of differing mythologies. I posted a screenshot from episode 3x01 because it is exemplary of my point. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film which I have meditated over many times and have attempted to tease apart the layers of meaning in its final scenes. Having personally worked over the narrative on my own, I have come to various conclusions about the transcendent journey that the character must take to arrive outside of himself and watch himself die, so that he may see his part in the larger whole of humanity and all existence, to be reborn as an enlightened being. By tying Jeff into this story with a few quick scenes, the writers of Community have immediately started speaking to me regarding what their goal for Jeff is in this story and what his journey should be, but I do not know yet if Jeff will follow the same path of the film, they still have something more to say about what the film meant and how it applies in this situation. This economy of language through pop culture mythology allows so much more to be put into a 22 minute show, if I speak the language. Some references, I admit, I do not get on first viewing. I understood that they were referencing Dead Poets Society in episode 1x03, but I had not meditated on that film, and I did not know what the writers wanted me to understand when everyone stands up on their desks and one person falls down. So, I watched Dead Poets Society, and suddenly, after investing an hour and a half, that 3 minute scene in the show reveals several more layers of meaning than the one sight gag I had gotten from it on first viewing. They are not using new archetypes, but then neither are the pieces they are referencing, the point of these metaphors is to talk about larger concepts and to provide a point of entry for your personal exploration of the concept. What Community does so well is say “ok, you know about the death and rebirth and seeing the planet as a whole that the space fetus goes through in 2001, but now look at how that concept also applies to interpersonal relationships and group dynamics here.” Once it evokes the memory of the mythology that you have meditated on and you are in the realm of the indescribable idea that you have worked through personally, then it anchors that to the character and combines it or contrasts it with another idea. If you remember the end of episode 3x01, Jeff emerges from the 2001 reference as the lead character of The Shining. So not only are we taking Jeff who should be an enlightened space fetus now, and having to immediately recast him in the role of a violent Jack Torrance and figure out the implications of that, but we are also reminded that both of these are films of Stanley Kubrick, and so, we are asked to examine the themes of his characters from an auteur standpoint. There is no mention of Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket, The Killing, or A Clockwork Orange, but the mention of Kubrick by contrasting two of his films embodied in the same character, brings to mind the ideas of group dynamics in relation to the individual within the group in those 4 films, and that was what we were exploring in this episode to start with, so many more layers were added by that one change, depending on your previous meditation on Kubrick’s work.

When Community combines these mythologies well, it really is a masterful show. The point of meditation to which we are returning every week with Community then is that pop culture is our current mythology and what these meditations on the mythology mean to us.

The son in Spy has some excellent stories. Surprisingly, this episode was similar in concept to Allen Gregory, but succeeded where that show fails over and over, perhaps because Jonah Hill had nothing to do with Spy, or perhaps because there is not a constant insistence on the same sex joke that is not all that interesting to begin with, but probably because —like The Yard— the innocence of childhood is contrasted against adult situations, and as a result the show is able to point to the heart of the matter it is looking at with less emotional baggage on the part of the viewer who can slightly distance themselves from character identification due to age difference.