Community Recap: “Celebrity Pharmacology”

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Here’s an idea: when Michael Scott leaves The Office in April, his replacement should be Pierce Hawthorne. They’re surprisingly similar, something I didn’t really notice until last night’s episode of Community, “Celebrity Pharmacology.”

Let’s start from the beginning. Annie’s putting on an anti-drug play for middle school students, with Troy and Abed as a pair of bumblebees, Jeff and Britta as cool cats, Shirley as a green crayon who feels blue, and, as marijuana, Pierce, who feels he’s being rejected and letting his obvious talents go to waste by not getting enough lines (he wonders if the play’s message is actually about Jeff Winger because he has a line on every page, a subtle nod to Annie’s feelings for Jeff). Turns out, when he was young, Pierce’s father hired a fake son for a commercial, instead of using his actual flesh and blood, telling the child actor how lucky he was to have a father who was proud of him. Michael Scott also had a rough childhood, coming from a broken home. Where Pierce failed with childhood fame, though, Michael succeeded; remember, he was an actor on Fundle Bundle.

Pierce sees Annie collecting soda cans around campus, and follows her to her rapey landlord-owned apartment, located above Dildopolis, a “martial aid” store. Annie’s been cut off financially by her family and is doing whatever she can to earn some money (besides relying on the Period Fairy). Pierce gives her a check for an undisclosed amount of money to help her out, knowing that he’ll be able to wrangle an extra line or two out of Annie in her play.

Things get out of control during the actual play, though, when Pierce goes crazy with fame. He acts like a clown as weed, complete with a string of catchphrases not far removed from “bucka bucka” and “wuzzle wuzzle.” He becomes a hero to the Charleston Chew-loving, baseball-wielding kids, who all shout “we want drugs!” when Pierce is flushed at the end of act one (why are there two acts in this play?). Chang saves the anti-drug message when he comes out to play weed, and scares the children with threats of deep-frying their dogs and wearing their brother’s skin as pajamas.

Both Michael and Pierce just want to be loved, but don’t know how to do it. They both believe that actions speak louder than words ever could (unless they’re literally yelling, which they both often do), so they’ll act out in grand gestures, just for attention. Can’t you picture Michael Scott in Annie’s play as marijuana? He’d also ignore the play’s anti-drug message, and make weed a lovable character for the young students. It wouldn’t be malicious, just as Pierce’s grand entrance and exit (and re-exit) weren’t, either; they’ll both do just about anything to be cheered on, even if it’s only children doing the clapping. They’re also both kinda racist, but that’s for another day.

The episode’s B-plot has Jeff texting someone named Marcus on Britta’s phone when she leaves it behind in the study room because he wants to prove a point about how everyone flirts via text. Eventually, we learn that Britta is Marcus’ aunt, but that doesn’t stop her nephew from sending penis emoticons and saying that he’s drunk — on lust. Everything about the story is a little too convenient (of course Britta leaves her phone behind, of course Marcus is related to Britta, of course she’d matter-of-factly mention to Jeff that Marcus would be in the audience for their play), but as usual, the cast plays it so well that it doesn’t seem like something that’s been done a thousand times before (pre-texts, it was voicemails, before voicemails, it was letters, etc.). My favorite scene had Jeff trying to backpedal and get Marcus to stop sending messages, and asking Abed for advice. Jeff keeps saying look what “we’ve” done and how can “we” stop this, even though Abed had nothing to do with it. A lesser sitcom would have the Brown Jamie Lee Curtis say, “What do you mean ‘we’?” But Community does something different: it has Abed blankly stare at the phone, saying nothing, with Jeff yelling, “Shut up, Abed!”

I could say this every week, and I probably will, but: Community always finds a new way of doing something that’s been done hundreds of times before. “Celebrity Pharmacology” wasn’t even one of their best, but it was still the funniest episode I’ve seen on TV this week (although I’ll admit I haven’t watched Parks yet). My one piece of advice: don’t make Pierce too over-the-top. That’s my main problem with Michael Scott, and I like Community being a show without a flawed character.

Josh Kurp thinks Johnny Gill is the best member of New Edition, too