Community: Season 1 Episode 17: "Physical Education" Review - Featured

"Abed, you're a god."

Those four words spoken by Jeff (Joel McHale) in tonight's episode, really sum up how I feel about this episode and the series as a whole. Is there any question that Abed is the greatest character on television? Certainly, he is the greatest Asperger's character TV has ever seen (This episode feature not one but two pretty blatant suggestions that Abed has the syndrome.) I don't know where they found this kid, but he is amazing. His impression of Lothario from Mad Men and his vampire persona had me busting a gut. Is there anything he can't do?

The episode's A story center's around the gang trying to teach Abed how to talk to girl's after they find a drawing of him a hot girl's textbook. The resulting story about being your self, having self confidence and whether or not you should change who you are to impress people, would seem cliched if it weren't so unbelievably meta (like just about everything on Community.) Abed has always been an in-show representation of the audience (as is made clear by his constant comparison of every event in the series to what happens on sitcoms.) He is a character defined by his voyeurism, and as such he represents the show's audience. We are all Abed. To be a fan of a show like Community where so much of the humor is based on making fun of itself as pop culture requires a similarly encyclopedia knowledge of said culture. Abed's struggle in this episode is my struggle, is our struggle. And the lesson that he teaches the other characters at the end is a valuable lesson for all us Abeds out there. Also, the explanation of the drawing in the text book may be the most hilarious twist in recent television history. We need to see more Joey in coming episodes.

The B story, some self-revelatory crap about Jeff learning to play pool in shorts, falls much flatter than the Abed plot. I didn't really get what it was about. Why did Jeff need to play pool in shorts? What did he learn about himself by doing so? Also, how many more plot lines can there be about Jeff learning to be a be a better person instead of a shallow jerk? I am so not interested in his self-discovery anymore, because he is just discovering the same things about himself over and over again. While this storyline did give us a great use of Werewolves of London and a hilarious climactic moment between Jeff and his gym teacher nemesis, Jeff is at his most entertaining when he interacts the other characters. When he is on his own, he is really underwhelming.

On the whole it was another fine episode of a fine series. The final during-the-credits gag with Abed and Troy was one of the best yet. The main portion of the episode ended with the insightful line, "I wish I were brown Joey." Don't we all. Don't we all.


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Mar 5, 2010 3:40PM EST

I love Community, one of the most consistently funny shows on tv. Chevy Chase as Pierce Hawthrone is pure genius, he wasn't in this episode much, but he still always gets the best one-liners
About Abed not being able to talk to girls
"He is going to become a 30 year old Arab virgin; one way or another that story ends with something exploding."
About there being a white Abed
"He's just like Abed, only employable."

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