I imagine that “Mixology Certification” is the most divisive episode of Community‘s second season. It’s set outside of the safe Greendale walls, features little pop culture referencing and for the most part, isn’t funny in the same kind of way all the “great” episodes of Community are. Instead, it features a fairly boiler-plate sitcom plot and really doesn’t even play that plot in a traditional sitcom way and in more like a semi-serious dramedy kind of way that is just really compelling to watch unspool. But because the episode is so successful in its undertaking of this different kind of approach, it more or less proves that Community can do any sort of story with relative ease.
“Certification” is really not all that funny. Instead it does a lot of work in showing us how all the members of the study group have grown to rely on one another for their happiness. When Troy shockingly discovers that it’s actually his 21st birthday instead of his 20th (because his mom lied to him about having two 10th birthdays after he was held back), the group goes out to a bar. Troy is super ready for the “cool” people in the group, Jeff and Britta, to show him what it’s like to be an adult with taste and sophistication and everyone else is generally excited as well aside from a fearful and 19-year old Annie, but when things quickly take a turn for the worse, Troy’s left holding the ball for everyone else loneliness and moderate sadness.
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