'Community': When Pottery Class Makes People Crazy

>Community draws much of its charm from the fact that its setting, unlike a traditional four-year college—be it Ivy tower or state school—brings together people at very different points in their lives. But as the study group at the show's core coalesced, the sitcom's spent less time addressing their anxieties about the fact that they're at Greendale Community College, whether as the result of a divorce, a pill addiction, or a misrepresentation of a Colombia degree as a Columbia degree. In last night's episode, as the characters struggled with classes they thought would be easy A's, that anxiousness came to the fore, as did a number of lessons:

1.) You don't have to be a failure or a fraud to end up in community college. After Jeff signs up for a pottery class, he's consternated to find a cute doctor knocking out pottery fountains, demonstrating advanced technique, and charming the ladies. Convinced the guy must be a ringer, Jeff drives himself nuts with research, only to discover the guy's legitimately a talented amateur, and when it comes to lumps of clay, Jeff himself is not.

2.) That said, accepting your limitations, even if they're severe, is part of life. After Pierce's classmates leave him for dead in the parking lot, site of Greendale's sailing class aboard the S.S. Nose Candy—"Recently purchased," their teacher notes, "through government auction,"—he summons the courage to go after them, setting out in a rowboat on wheels. Jeff wishes him luck as he sets sail. "Don't need it," Pierce replies in one of the show's most poignant lines to date. "Never had it."

3. Really, everyone at every educational institution everywhere, should be so lucky to have a friend as close to them as Troy and Abed are to each other. This week's episode was light on the hilarious twosome, but even their throwaway exchange was one of the comedic high points, a demonstration of Danny Pudi and Donald Glover's collective genius. "College is where mental healthy problems are activated," Abed remarks as Jeff loses it over pottery class. "I hope I get multiple personalities," Troy muses. "I get lonely in long showers."

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Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture writer with The Washington Post.

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