This might be my media studies nerd coming out but “Mixology Certification” is one of my favorite Community episodes that when I get that DVD set, that episode will be on for hours. It is an episode that has stuck with me for it’s realistic message and somber yet still humorous tone and now is the time to analyze the episode. This post will contain spoilers so tread carefully while you read the post.
To be fair, this episode is not for everyone, especially if you like the laugh-out version of Community rather than the critical version of Community. There’s also the fact that this episode is the first episode to really have a setting outside of Greendale Community College and is arguably one of their more realistic episodes. It is pretty much the idea of “what would happen if the characters were in the real world” and making it into an episode.
The basic summary of the episode is that it is Troy’s birthday and after realizing his mom lied about his age and he’s really 21, the community gang decide to take him out for his first drink. One of the first things to happen is that our oldest character and the only character with kids are the first to leave the story when Pierce can’t get his wheel chair through the door and Shirley is embarrassed because the bar has photos of her during her dark time getting drunk. I think the reason why is that the whole episode is to show how certain stock characters would function in our world and older people tend to be ignored and those with kids are never seen beyond being parents, especially women. The plot also allows a sober moment when the gang find out about Shirley’s pictures and make fun of her and Shirley leaving because she doesn’t appreciate the mocking. Sitcoms rarely show a character who tells their people that they refused to be mocked and by Troy’s sad reaction to Shirley, we get the impression that someone getting drunk over a failed marriage isn’t all that funny.
The episode also sets up a dichotomy between people who can function outside of Greendale and those who can’t. Britta and Jeff are in the former camp, acting like hipsters with their argument over which bar was the best. Out of the gang, they are the ones who come out relatively unscathed. The reason could be is that they fit into the real world. The kicker comes in that they only fit in with the cynical aspects of the world, hence their own enjoyment in a dingy bar and not being sympathetic to Shirley’s embarrassment over her drunk photos. They also represent the idea that when you reach adulthood, you no longer try to grow into a better person or try to look from another person’s point of view. If the two had actually talked instead of argued about the best bar, they would have realized that they were talking about the same bar. They also serve as a message to Troy that being an adult doesn’t mean you are any smarter than you were as a younger person. The best example is when Troy gets irritated realizing that Britta and Jeff were arguing about said bar and came to that conclusion, especially with the fact that the two have been constantly giving him advice on how to be an adult.
The ones who got the brunt of the melancholy the episode produced was Annie and Abed, our resident overachiever and pop culture guy. Annie, separated from the safety of a school comes to the terms of why despite having a plan she still feels lost and wishes she could be Caroline from Corpus Christi, the person on her fake ID. Annie is the representation of how lost one can feel when out of the safety of high school and parents. Abed’s situation exemplifies just how out of touch he is with actual social interaction. Despite knowing Paul F. Tompkins’ character was flirting with him, he still kept talking simply because he “likes talking about Farscape“. Abed is a representation on how people who aren’t neurotypical, such as those with Asperger Syndrome, have a really hard time in real world social situations. Greendale is also a save haven for him in that his pop culture references and odd mannerisms endear him to most of the students while in the real world of the bar, he is shunned and left alone.
As for the episode’s focus character, Troy? It is established that out of all of the main cast, Troy has to best odds of being able to live without Greendale. He doesn’t have the stigma of being old or being a mother, he’s nerdy but still sociable, and is more capable of being able to adapt to the situation. It’s no wonder that at the end of the episode, he is the sober driver for the group and has to be the responsible one, giving pep talks and trying to get people to care about other’s feelings. This gets explored more fully in the Season three finale. Troy also represents the idea of what happens when a young adult faces reality, realizing the cynical aspects of the world through his friends and how people are isolated because of what they do or who they are as people. The silver lining is that Troy doesn’t fully succumb to the cynicism like Britta and Jeff and instead tries to be a better person. We see that when Troy admits that in high school he didn’t know Annie existed but that he does now.
This episode’s main messages are that college is a safe haven for the disenfranchised and there is no handbook to being an adult. This episode when I first watched it because I was close to being 21 myself and only had a year and half before I graduated. Now as a college graduate, the episode feels like more like my life. At times I feel like I’m making up a plan as I go along and that people’s advice seems to not apply to me. Remembering this episode makes me realize that I need to take a Troy attitude to post-college life and realize that yes, there are some terrible aspects of life but you can’t let that turn you into a bitter, cynical person. You have to power on through life but never to forget helping out your friends. Because if there’s one thing to take away from the whole series is that friends can help you through the tough times.
- Community’s Danny Pudi Knows How to Keep His Cool, Cool, Cool (wired.com)
- NBC’s ‘Community’: Danny Pudi on Chang mystery, new campaign (examiner.com)
- ‘Community’ Gets A Premiere Date! (huffingtonpost.com)
- How am I supposed to enjoy ‘Community’ if you keep pushing it back? Here’s how . . . (quantumxen.net)
- Why Community is one of the Smartest things on Television Right Now. (ponderingspawned.com)
- Community Bosses Tease ‘Emotional Messiness,’ Possible Jeff/Britta Romance in Season 4 (tvline.com)
- Gifts for Impossible People – Part 2: Pop culture snobs and hipsters (theinsider.retailmenot.com)
- The UN-Return of NBC’s Community (themostinterestingbloggerintheworld.wordpress.com)