“Contemporary Impressionism” is a simple episode by Community standards. Essentially, we watch Troy deal with the fact that being friends with Abed, who he loves and describes as a “magical elf-like man who makes us more magical by being near us,” can be stressful when reality infringes on their happy bubble of Inspector Spacetime and the Dreamatorium. Likewise, Jeff is struggling with the implications of being absorbed in fantasy—the Jeff Winger fantasy.
I could simply post the following (surely one of the funniest moments in Community’s history?) and end this here, knowing a hysterical Jim Rash is more than enough to lure and amuse:
…but I won’t, as I’d hate to break habit and come in under the 400 world limit. Troy’s realisation comes as Abed is being chased by an enforcer (French Stewart, as a failed French Stewart impersonator) seeking to collect a debt Abed has accrued by hiring celebrity impersonators to act out scenes from movies. In his enthusiasm Abed has paid little attention to the small detail of payment, so the study group strike a deal to impersonate celebrities as a bar mitzvah to settle the debt. Naturally, Abed is dressed as Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies (slicked back hair and all), Troy and Britta are Michael Jackson pre and post-surgical intervention, Shirley impersonates Oprah, Annie is Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, Pierce a reluctant fat Marlon Brando and Jeff a more-attractive-than-Seacrest Ryan Seacrest.
Jeff’s shrink has put him on anti-anxiety medication, causing Britta to freak out and start lecturing him on the dangers of his now uncontrollable ego. As he’s showered with affection, his ego (represented in cartoon form by an apple) expands and expands, reaching critical mass during a fake awards ceremony at the bat mitzvah (where all the awards go to the birthday boy) when Jeff looses the ‘most handsome’ award. Unable to cope, he throws a Hulk-like hissy fit (complete with The Incredible Hulk music playing), tearing his clothes to reveal his perfect abs while demanding recognition and, after waking in a ditch by the road, admitting to Britta he needs help.
This isn’t a brilliant episode of Community—though some moments, like Jim Rash’s absurdly funny physical comedy, are completely inspired— and aside from the Abed/Troy relationship shift (which provided the only moment of real emotion when Abed didn’t participate in the secret handshake), nothing of importance occurs. But it was fun, surprising, and I liked the parallel drawn between Abed, Troy and Jeff, in that when faced with reality Abed retreats further into fantasy (reconnecting with Evil Abed), Troy matures and sets limits on their hijinks and Jeff recognises his self-doubt and anxiety is what keeps him from becoming an arrogant, intolerable jerk. And, of course, Jeff referencing his extreme attractiveness wearing Aviators with “Final boarding call, Beefcake Airways.”
- I need to see this movie Troy invented, “Lorenzo’s Oil,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lorenzo Lamas.
- This season only Gillian Jacobs is outshining Jim Rash. They’re achieving levels of brilliance similar to Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt.
- I’m not loving how they’re using Chang recently. That character works better for me when he’s desperate and trying to become part of the study group—reminding us that difficult friendships are better than none—as opposed to this whole power tripping security guard angle. Then again, it’s awfully funny when he abuses his position as teacher and now guard, so it might play out nicely, especially if Dean Pelton expands on how Chang’s pout makes him feel “hatred for Renee Zellweger.”