Community "App Development and Condiments" Review: Caste Times at GCC
If you're a bit off-kilter, there was a lot to like about "App Development and Condiments," which featured a concept so high it might've splashed forth from the mindspring of someone who was equally high, but there was also a bit of flopping about as the episode snowballed out of control and into the bizarre. However, that's also what made it kind of fun? Guys, I'm not sure WHAT to think about "App Development and Condiments," but I think I'm leaning toward greatness. Based on the comments that some of you have already posted, it's apparent that the episode didn't sit right with some Community fans but tickled others. Which is exactly how everyone should react to a half-hour so out of this world.
Social hierarchy has always been a theme on Community, with the study group occupying several different rungs on the status ladder. Sometimes they're triumphantly stuck at the ground level, other times they're touching the sky as Greendale heroes. In "App Development and Condiments," all rankings were reset and each member of the group was left to their own devices as a new social media app turned Greendale into some sci-fi popularity contest. Instead of "favorites" or "likes," worthiness was decided by "MeowMeowBeenz," a one-to-five rating system that could be applied to anything. If that seemed silly to you, then you probably didn't like this episode. Because dammit, it was silly, but it also did a great job of satirizing youth culture's obsession with validation via social media.
It didn't take long for the campus to become a parody of the excellent 1976 sci-fi movie Logan's Run—in which all citizens above a certain age are killed off—as well as any other Dystopian future. There was also a hilarious nod to Sean Connery's 1974 sci-fi bomb Zardoz via Starburns' rented costume, and for extra credit, it was very similar (whether intentional or not) to Black Mirror's awesome episode "15 Million Credits," particularly during the talent show. Fives became the upper class, while Ones and Twos were the equivalent of the Untouchables in cultural caste systems. The whole idea of Greendale deteriorating into classism drew out some big laughs; I particularly liked the Fives' clubhouse choreography in their Ivory Tower, Jeff bro-ing out to earn MeowMeowBeenz, and Abed calling his friends monsters when they admired his want to be reduced to Four and thus rated him a Five.
I liked the division of the study group, too. Obviously Britta was the one (and the One) to challenge the system as a proud cellar-dweller, trying to take it down from the inside and rally support as the champion of the loser people. I loved the idea that Britta was only influential when she had mustard on her face to distract from her intensity; she rode that influence to a position of autocratic power to expose her own hypocrisy. Shirley with her fake niceness shot all the way to the top as queen of the Fives, and Jeff was obviously late to the whole thing because he was too cool to participate, but then he set out to expose MeowMeowBeenz for the sham they were. Meanwhile, it was quietly genius to let Abed float through all the class levels, as he would be appropriately lost in the idea of social hierarchy.
Helping keep "App Development and Condiments" truly bizarre was a perfect roster of guest stars. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim & Eric) played make-up wearing weirdos, and Tim's little speech about loving a Two and keeping Jeff and Britta's secret was killer. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say fans of Tim & Eric's probably appreciated this episode a little more than others. But for my money, Mitch Hurwitz (the creator of Arrested Development) as Koogler the cool guy with the lei and shades was the BEST. He was like the human incarnation of Spuds McKenzie. Oh man, the Koogler is KEWL. And the end tag's fake trailer for a Koogler movie instantly became one of my favorite Community end tags of all time. LONG LIVE THE KOOGLER! I mean, look how Koogler he is!
And even as I re-watch the episode now while writing this review, I feel a lot better about it. "App Development and Condiments" was WEIRD and really showed off the far end of the spectrum or Dan Harmon's humor, which can be grating for some and fantastic for others. The episode did lack a sense of coherence (and maybe a point), and that likely keeps it from becoming an all-time Community classic, but it still falls squarely into the category of Community cult classic. It's definitely one of those episodes that divides the show's fanbase. Anyway, I'm sure it's just us Rives who really got this one. High five, Fives! The rest of you can enjoy your apples. Oh geez, now I'm being taken over by MeowMeowBeenz!!!
– The funniest part of the episode? Garret posing for a picture with Jeff.
– Down with the Ones you go, Vicky! You are THE WORST! I hate you.
– Dean: "Fives have lives, Fours have chores, Threes have fleas, Twos have blues, and Ones don't get a rhyme because they're garbage!"
– Britta: "Maybe it dilutes or distracts from your stupid butt."
– Apparently I was one of the few critics who hated last week's episode? Hmmm. Oh well!
What'd you think of "App Development and Condiments"?
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