Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

TV Diary | Community: “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts”

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TV Diary | Community – Episode 3.11 – “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” – Original Airdate: 3/15/12

Episode Grade: A-

If you’ve spent any time on the site recently (or at all, really), it’ll be pretty obvious to you that I’m a huge Community fan. The three month wait for new episodes has been excruciating both in that I wanted more fresh Community and in that the uncertainty of its hiatus was very troubling. Thankfully, NBC finally – FINALLY – saw fit to put it back on its schedule after 30 Rock did no better in the Thursday night leadoff slot and here we are. Despite my excitement over finally – FINALLY – getting a new episode, I was a little nervous to actually do a review. You see, as great as Community is, it can often be a difficult show to write about. Not only did I want to be able to write something that does justice to such a special show, but trying to write about it in general can often be akin to banging your head against a brick wall. It can sometimes be impenetrable [1], so this piece comes with no small amount of anxiety. With that said, the word that can best describe “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” is… “normal.” It was a very intelligent move on either the part of Community’s producers or on the part of NBC to schedule this episode as the show’s return because if ever people who hadn’t ever watched the show were going to sample it… now was probably the time. Between the online furor over its benching, the constant mentions of the show on Twitter, co-star Jim Rash’s Oscar win as a screenwriter of the George Clooney film The Descendants, and the cast’s (most specifically via Joel McHale’s vehicle on The Soup) tireless efforts at raising awareness of the show, Community was in the zeitgeist and this offered a perfect opportunity to capture a new segment of the American viewing public [2]. People love weddings and the re-union of Shirley and Andre (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) [3] served as the backdrop for the episode, allowing for Shirley’s internal conflict of whether to focus on her impending nuptials or her fledgling sandwich business with Pierce, Jeff and Britta’s distaste for marriage as an institution, and Troy and Abed’s struggle to “de-whimsify” themselves in order to act normal on Shirley’s big day. Definitely less esoteric than Community usually goes in for, “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” serves as an easy in for neophyte viewers who wondered what all of the fuss was about while also still featuring some of the weirdness that longtime fans flock to the show to see. After the episode opens in the Greendale cafeteria with the eatery’s in-house coffee stand out of business, leaving Annie to wonder where she was going to get her “cappuccinos and Sarah McLachlan CDs,” Britta suggests that Shirley and Pierce go into business together by opening a sandwich shop in the coffee stand’s place. Shirley is initially reluctant but signs on, only to have Andre show up moments later complete with an a cappella group performing Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly” as part of a marriage proposal. After accepting, she back burners the small business idea only to be persuaded back into it after Britta offers to plan the wedding for her, feeling that Shirley’s using it as an excuse to not do something for herself [4]. In slightly predictable fashion, Shirley and Pierce’s pitch to Dean Pelton about the shop ends up conflicting with the wedding rehearsal, causing Andre to question Shirley’s commitment to their marriage but they eventually work out their issues through a drunken Jeff and Britta’s attempt to marry each other in Shirley and Andre’s stead [5], ending with the two happily marrying. Shirley’s been the member of the ensemble who’s probably been the most underserved during the series’ run, so it’s nice to see her get a spotlight episode here and run with it. A wedding that comes off nicely is a fitting end to the episode as the joyful tone of the storyline mirrors Community’s fans’ happiness in finally having the show back on the airwaves. Community is back y’all. Long may it live.

[1] I actually mean that in a very good way. There aren’t many other shows like this one.
[2] And the strategy seems to have worked, at least initially. Community returned to a season high in both total viewership and rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic.
[3] Looking resplendent in a very Bill Cosby-esque sweater, naturally.
[4] This also leads to one of the episode’s best gags: After offering her help, Shirley begins laughing at the absurdity of Britta, of all people, planning a wedding and during the laughter a “Literally two full minutes later” title card pops up. Britta then reiterates that she’s serious, gets a death stare from Shirley as a “One minute later” placard appears, and only then does Shirley accept her offer.
[5] More on this in the Miscellany.

Miscellany:
*Literally the first line of my notes for the episode: YESSSSSS!! I’m kinda happy it’s back, in case you couldn’t tell.
*So… the Jeff and Britta getting married thing. In what was essentially the episode’s b-story, Jeff and Britta find that they share a distaste for the institution of marriage. She thinks it’s an antiquated notion that demeans a woman’s worth (and that she secretly fears she’ll fall into since she “comes from a long line of wives and mothers”) while Jeff, in being asked to give a toast at the reception, realizes that he has nothing of value to say before coming to grips with the fact that his problems with weddings stem from his father walking out on his mother when he was just a wee tot. Community being Community, Jeff and Britta both get drunk at the rehearsal and badger one another into a game of chicken and almost end up married as a result until Andre and Shirley step in and use Jeff and Britta as surrogates for the myriad issues they’re experiencing. As always, drunk Jeff and Britta are funny Jeff and Britta and Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs have chemistry to spare when they’re in hate-lust with each other. This was a good use of the characters in a non-central storyline.
*Pierce’s idea of portraying a young, hip businessman is dying his hair and wearing a suit, to which Troy responds, “Pierce, why do you look like a wealthy murderer?”
*Flush with Hawthorne Wipes money after the death of his father, one of Pierce’s business ideas to expand Hawthorne Industries is an automatic security camera that can distinguish customers’ friends from intruders. Of course the camera would then identify Abed, Troy, Shirley, and Andre as “intruders.” Jeff: “Wireless racism. The future of the past is now.”
*Pierce’s other money-making idea: the Trouser Bench, an automated bench housed inside a pair of trousers – “For the man on the go who makes frequent stops.”
*However, the trouser bench still has prototype problems. Take it, Pierce: “I had to shelve the Trouser Bench anyway. There are still some parts of the prototype that need to be extracted. Maybe you’re misunderstanding. I mean, from my butt.”
*Is anyone surprised that Annie has a wedding scrapbook… and it’s gigantic?
*Love that Troy’s wearing Pierce’s dad’s ivory toupee from “Advanced Gay.”
*Jeff’s heart is apparently filled with Annie’s boobs and scotch.
*As longtime viewers know, there’s a difference between “Annie’s boobs” and “Annie’s Boobs.” And Annie’s Boobs makes a surprise appearance at the wedding!
*I also love Abed’s “normal” voice.
*The song that everyone dances to after Shirley and Andre exchange vows is totally a riff on The Cosby Show’s theme, right?
*Speaking of voices, according to Andre, Shirley’s Miss Piggy voice is her “sexy voice.” (Shudder).
*”And I would have done away with that give a penny, take a penny nonsense. If the good Lord wanted you to have a penny, you’d have one.”
*”What do you think, Shirley? Should I have my people call your people? I don’t mean, ‘your people.'”
*”Baby… I have loved you since there was a Soviet Union and only one Daman Wayans.”
*”You’re anti-wedding now?” “No, she’s just pro-anti.” “No to everything you both said.”
*”Someone tell Britta what an analogy is.” “I know what an analogy is. It’s a thought with another thought’s hat on.”
*”Just nut up and die alone.”
*”We’ll try not to embarrass you at your community college library wedding.”
*”Will somebody please call all the ambulances?”
*”Oh, did someone say ‘Annie,’ ‘help,’ and something about hydrangeas?”
*”Well, great… flowers look good in a pot. There are people dying in Uganda.”
*”Ugh.. Stop. Webster’s dictionary defines? That’s the Jim Belushi of speech openings. It accomplishes nothing but everyone keeps using it and no one understands why.”
*”Shut up, Leonard. Those teenage girls you play ping-pong with are doing it ironically.”
*”I don’t care if anyone believes it, jackass. It’s a fact.” “Then prove it, ding dong!”
*”What about babies?” “What about ’em?” “How many?” “Pick a number, dick. It’s not like it’s up to me.”
*”I’m a BLAST at weddings.”
*Episode courtesy of Hulu below.

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