I’ve never seen Pulp Fiction or My Dinner with Andre, so if you think that makes me incapable of reviewing this episode, then I’d suggest you skip this review.

I give up. I don’t get Community anymore. I don’t understand what the hell happened to it, or why it fails week after week to entertain me. Its first season was just so freakin’ good. Now, it’s just sad and frustrating to watch. It has fallen so far from its creative peak that I cannot for the life of me comprehend why it continues to receive critical adulation. “Critical Film Studies” was a bad episode, plain and simple, and it made me lose hope that this show is ever going to be good again.

Last week, in my review of “Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy,” I said that Community was relying on plots that were based on character quirks instead of placing characters in different situations and watching them react to those situations. This makes the characters feel like caricatures. That’s exactly what happened this week. The entire episode was based around Abed’s love of pop culture.

When they were penning this episode, Community’s writers might have asked themselves: is it conceivable that on some other show, a character would screw over his friends by trying to recreate the plot of a movie in real life? The answer is no. One might say that’s what makes Community unique, and he or she would be right. But it’s also what makes Community an oddly disassociating viewing experience at times. It’s impossible to relate to such a ludicrous plot line. However, Abed feels disassociated from the real world and has trouble relating to people. So it’s kinda meta! That’s brilliant, eh? Do you get it? Do you get it? DO YOU GET IT?

And that’s one of the major problems with this season of Community. It’s so wrapped-up in its own cleverness that it fails to work at the most basic level: providing a good story for viewers to latch on to. Heck, the story in “Critical Film Studies” didn’t even make sense. Abed concocted the entire thing to spend more time with Jeff? Why hasn’t the show told us that he and Jeff aren’t hanging out much anymore? Arguably, they have had less screen time together this season, and some might commend Community for showing us Abed and Jeff not hanging out instead of telling us about it. But that, to be quite frank, is ridiculous. Community has also shown us a distinct lack of magical ballet-dancing purple giraffes in Abed’s life. Are we to assume that he’s been missing them too? Moreover, the show is once again falling victim to the trite “show-don’t-tell” mantra. “Show don’t tell” is something middle school English teachers tell their creative writing classes to make their students’ writing sound more mature. It’s inapplicable to television, a medium that must rely on both showing and telling. Telling too much and showing too little is equivalent to treating one’s audience like a bunch of morons, but showing too much and telling too little frustrates anyone who isn’t scrutinizing every scene for the tiniest of details.

Honestly, I’m not that kind of TV viewer. I don’t rewatch scenes to figure out what I might have missed. I don’t spend hours and hours thinking about the characters on the show and their relationships. I just want to sit back, relax, and be entertained. I don’t want to have to watch Pulp Fiction and My Dinner with Andre just so I can understand 21 minutes of television. I have better things to do with my life. So, after all was said and done, after Abed’s overly lengthy speech that made me zone out about halfway through, after an abrupt and unexplained slide into emotionalism for Jeff, after a B-plot that was so awful that it’s not even worth mentioning, after the umpteenth heavy-handed Abed-has-trouble-relating-to-people story, I was fed up. Once you strip away all the pop culture nonsense, what was left of this episode aside from a poorly told story about Jeff and Abed’s relationship? What valuable things did this episode do, story-wise? What did it tell us about the characters that we didn’t already know? Nothing, nothing, and nothing.

Outside of a few references to Cougar Town, which I enjoyed probably only because of my infinite love for that show, I don’t think that “Critical Film Studies” worked on any level. Maybe it was fantastically funny for people who have seen Pulp Fiction, but I honestly didn’t find any of the jokes that I understood funny either. Like I said, I give up. I’m going to watch this show until the end of the season. However, I might not tune in the next. I’ll continue to review it, but probably only in snarky recap format. And frankly, after how awful this season has been, it doesn’t deserve any better.

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