Community Review: What is Normal?

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Let's face it: following such a lengthy hiatus - one in which, originally, we didn't even know if the show would return - Community could have returned this week with Jeff, Annie and company doing nothing but shining Jim Rash's Oscar and I'd have been giddy.

But then "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" delivered a hilarious half hour, while proving the wacky show can actually act quite normal (while commenting on just how normal, of course, Troy and Abed Not in the Morning style) and showcase characters that are more fully developed than any other sitcom on television.

Normal Troy and Abed

We had Shirley, who is religious (her church is against "Calico cats"), kind (she helped Pierce at his most vulnerable) and also downright hilarious... for either two full minutes of laughter or one full minute of intense staring.

We had Annie, ever cheerful and optimistic, whether she's making high-pitched squeals in rom-com movie horror; or carrying around the world's largest wedding book.

We had Jeff and Pierce, both dealing with their persistent daddy issues; the former through a possible love of turtle necks, bitterness and a heart that beats scotch; the latter through money, ego and occasional racism. (No need to call the authorities, home security device.)

We had Britta, thinking she's so far above it all (so what if the flowers look nice? Children are starving in Uganda!!!), yet even messing up (yes, Britta-ing) her attempt at being a bad wedding planner, and then hysterically drowning her sorrows in the fact that she comes from a long line of wives and moms (don't we all?) and, realize that making 70% of her husband and having no say in how many babies she squeezes out is sadly her destiny.

And then we had Troy and Abed, who de-whimsified themselves in an attempt to make acceptable wedding guests, essentially acting like Community itself in airing an episode it hopes will attract lots of new viewers simply seeking a "regular" sitcom, yet unable to maintain the charade for the entirety of the installment.

Will the ratings actually tick up? We'll soon find out, but this served as an ideal episode for both fresh sets of eyeballs and those who have loved each of these characters for three-plus seasons now. You don't need to know Britta well in order to laugh at her attempt to explain an analogy (what was that part about a hat again?) - but it helps to understand this goes right along with her high and mighty attitude.

The genius of Community lies in its ability to combine rapid fire jokes with pop culture references while still painting detailed portraits of well-layered characters. All of those traits were on display here.

Oh, and in its hatred of Jim Belushi. Seriously, who finds that guy funny?!?


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (75 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Thought the episode was just okay. Haven't really liked the direction the series/characters were heading in for most of season 2 and 3 but this did feel like a step in the right direction. But I did want to add that it seems like ppl have forgotten that Community didnt start out as this extremely meta, high conceptual, always doing homages, "weird" show. Re-watch season 1 (imho the high point of the GCC saga), Most of season 1 was just the group hanging out, trying to get through Chang's class, or get Abed a girlfriend, or whatever the topic of the week was. And that is the community I want to see back. Not the over the top crap we have been seeing lately. Where almost all the characters have devolved into caricatures. I miss the glory days of community


I thought this was a perfect episode to come back from hiatus with - not only was it tame enough to not scare/alienate viewers, it was a good intro of the characters. This episode had one of the best showcases of a lot of characters. Easily Britta's best episode in a long, long, long time. She was much more than a two-dimensional caricature - I LOVED her this time. This was also one of the best Shirley episodes - it's great when we see the balance she brings to the group sometimes. Troy and Abed being normal - was WEIRD. I thought it was hilarious that everything they said sounded like sarcasm. And there were some real knee-slapper jokes. 24hr weird-down, Shirley's sexy-voice, Jeff's heart, Kilmer vs Bale...just so much. When Troy came out in Pierce's dad's ceramic wig I almost had an aneurysm LOL Welcome back, Community. I've missed you terribly.


Kay makes a great point. I for one was very excited for its return, and not disappointed. My favorite line: "We dewhimisfied ourselves." - Troy Welcome Back, Community! :-D Oh - I also read some good news somewhere about how Comedy Central is looking to syndicate Community, which is good news in itself. But the article said that they'll likely want more episodes, meaning that keeping the show on the air for at least another season will be more lucrative for the network! Yay!


It kind of stinks that they scheduled the return of this show during the beginning of the NCAA tournament. If they wanted to see if the show would get better ratings, this is the worst time to re-air it. They are setting this show up for failure, and it is one of their better shows.


I too thought it was the perfect return! Re-instills hope that this show can be just plain funny without relying on a gimmick, a parody, an homage or some totally outlandish scenario. Fine form.


RajBauer: "I found the episode just ok."
I agree completely. I have been a fan of this show since it first aired. I recall all the absolutely awesome episodes, most involving paintball, and compared to those this one was awkward and weak.
But I am still a fan. I have hope.
Hey, where was Chang?


Good for new viewers. For long time viewers it was bleh.


@RajBauer actually, this was an excellent episode to come back with. To pick up new viewers you wouldn't want to start with an ultra weird, high conceptual episode. If you were trying to introduce someone to community you wouldn't start with modern warfare or Epidemiology. This was funny, but not too meta, or alienating. I'm so happy it's back!!! SIX SEASONS AND A MOVIE

Childish gambino

Thought it was pretty good I was pleasantly surprised with the return and am hopeful for the rest of the season. [And this is coming someone who was a huge fan season 1 but thought the last season and a half was a pretty big let down] Still think Britta is too over the top and could be toned down/ get back to her season 1 roots And i gotta agree with Rajbauer i dont really see them getting that many more viewers. I mean they might get a couple more just off of the "leta see what this whole 'Save Community' hype is about" but if you werent watching it before you they didnt really do anything to attract/keep new viewers. overall 4/5


Honestly I have been a huge community fan since season 1 and this would not be an episode that would attract new viewers because as a veteran viewer I found the episode just ok. They needed something a little more interesting as an episode to kick off a return from a hiatus, this would have worked better as an episode that is just a week apart. Honestly this is the weakest episode of season 3 so far but I am not worried because I know there is a lot of great stuff coming.

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Community Season 3 Episode 11 Quotes

Will someone please call all the ambulances?


Annie: The "Webster's Dictionary defines" intro is The Jim Belushi of speech openings: it accomplishes nothing, but everyone keeps on using it, and no one knows why.