Welcome to Looking Streets Behind, a weekly Community retrospective column! Each week, we’ll dive into a Community episode that has reached the 10th-anniversary milestone. For this installment, we’re delving into “Celebrity Pharmacology 212,” wherein we learn that there’s no such thing as a front stinger. Charleston Chews can save the lives of 50 at-risk preteens. Dildopolis actually has some decent sales, as long as you’re awake late enough to explore them. Jeff also looks sexy in a coffin, and we never would’ve learned that if the dean never pointed it out.
So, without further ado, let’s look back on “Celebrity Pharmacology 212.” Only cool cats allowed from here on out. I don’t make the rules.
The gang is putting on an anti-drug play penned and directed by Annie (Alison Brie). Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) are bees. Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is a green crayon. Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) are dressed as “cool cats.” Lastly, Pierce (Chevy Chase) is a marijuana leaf. Troy is lamenting about having to wear his stinger on his backside when Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) wanders into the study room also donning a bee costume. The only difference? His stinger is on the front. He’s got a front stinger, people. The dean reveals that they’ll be performing their play for a horde of middle schoolers. Potentially at-risk, highly impressionable preteens.
Now, Pierce isn’t too happy with his role. He doesn’t have any lines. However, Jeff gets all the dialogue, but we know why that is. Later, Pierce follows Annie to her apartment. He notices that she’s scrounging for empty soda cans to recycle for measly cash. Pierce writes Annie a significant check to help her pay rent and bills. Of course, it would appear there’s an ulterior motive at play — Pierce initially followed Annie to persuade her to give him more lines. Annie heartily accepts the money, unaware of Pierce’s intentions.
Meanwhile, Chang (Ken Jeong) makes Shirley a “Get to Know Chang” mixtape. He hopes to grow closer to her since he may be the father of Shirley’s unborn child. But Shirley ignores him. Britta accidentally leaves her phone in the study room. Jeff sees that she received a text from a guy named Marcus. Abed warns against meddling in Britta’s affairs, but Jeff is Jeff. He decides to send this dude some lewd text messages on behalf of Britta.
Later, it’s opening night for our Greendale Seven. Fifty kids are waiting on the other side of the curtain. Pierce informs the group of the revisions he made to the script. For starters: he has more dialogue. Despite the play drastically moving away from Annie’s original vision, she allows it to happen. Pierce did gift her a hefty sum of cheddar, after all. Britta tells Jeff that her 14-year-old cousin Marcus will be attending the play. She’s eager to see him, especially since she was under the impression that he despised her. A red flag waves for Jeff. He was exchanging inappropriate texts with an underage boy.
During the play, Pierce hams it up. The preteens adore him. He ultimately derails the production and turns the real message on its head. Chang attempts to chat with Shirley again. She rejects him … again. We see a funeral is underway on stage wherein cool cat Jeff “died.” While Troy and Abed “buzz” the “Taps” song mostly heard at military funerals, Jeff whips out Britta’s phone to text Marcus again. Suddenly, Pierce crashes the scene with sparklers in hand. Annie is mortified. Thankfully, Drugs (Pierce) is about to get flushed down the toilet soon.
So, Pierce’s popular Drugs character is sentenced to death by flushing. However, the kids are chanting for him to return. They love drugs! Dean Pelton urges the crew to turn it around by Act Two. Everyone discovers that Annie took money from Pierce so he could have a bigger role in the production. Annie fires Pierce and the remainder of the gang fires Annie. Now, it’s up to one Ben Chang to save the day. He dons the marijuana leaf costume and accompanying rainbow wig. Then, he goads the kids into hating him. They all proceed to beat the snot out of Chang. Annie and the dean are pleased as punch.
Later, Jeff approaches Marcus and claims he’s Britta’s boyfriend. They both agree to let bygones be bygones as long as Britta doesn’t learn about what transpired. Marcus wants something for his silence, though…
Shirley apologizes to Chang. It would appear she’s amenable to getting to know Chang. Pierce tells Annie he’ll continue to give her money despite her booting him from the play. She reveals that she’s going to get a job, so his checks are no longer needed. Annie apologizes to the group and all is right with the world again on Community. Britta notices that her bra is missing.
In the end credit scene, Annie is slumbering in her bed. We hear an announcer from Dildopolis list off the store’s current sales during the middle of the night. Par for the course when you work in the high-stakes world of adult toys.
The one-liners and gags!
“Celebrity Pharmacology 212” is riddled with classic Community one-liners and genuinely hysterical moments. Here’s a fun Abed line: “Annie, question: Is Pierce marijuana, and does marijuana help people work faster? I thought it just made them custom paint their vans and solve mysteries.” Annie also has a great one. “Okay, guys, remember, the most important thing is to have fun. The second most important thing is to know all your lines and all your blocking and not mess up a single thing. Actually, flip those.”
And, as per usual, my boy Troy whips out a very Troy-esque one-liner: “Are you sure my costume isn’t on backward? Somehow I felt more confident before.” That’s in reference to the stinger on his bee costume. Not to mention, “I’m flying higher than I ever have thanks to not drugs.” I’d be remiss if I left out a signature Dean Pelton line. “Well, that answers my question. Jeff Winger is sexy even in a coffin.” He’s President of the Jeffrey Winger Fan Club, y’all.
Speaking of the dean, I love the moment after he tells the group to get their shirt together for Act Two. He spots the photo of “cool cat” Jeff, overtly swipes it and says, “Oops.” It’s a funny bit that only Jim Rash could execute. Troy and Abed “buzzing” the “Taps” song is such a great gag as well.
Here’s a bit of trivia regarding the episode from IMDb: “Pierce’s glasses change to match the color of his outfit in the episode. This is a nod from the costume department to Pierce’s fortune, and none of the other actors or writers present on the [commentary] track was aware of this until he pointed it out.” Another fun fact? Joel McKinnon Miller, who portrays Norm Scully on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, is the announcer for Dildopolis at the end of the episode. NBC worlds collide!
The drugs of it all!
Community is so adept at playing with sitcom tropes. This show is masterful when it comes to taking a simple idea like an anti-drugs play gone wrong and running with it. While “Celebrity Pharmacology 212” isn’t the series’ most meta outing, it’s still a fun episode laden with quotable one-liners and clever writing. Chevy Chase may have had the starring role as a pot leaf, but to me, Ken Jeong steals the show. All of Chang’s lines are golden. The scene where the kids lay the smackdown on him always cracks me up.
So, what did we learn today, children? Don’t do drugs unless sparklers are involved. Don’t text an emoti-penis to your aunt. Keep your front stingers in the back.
Thank you for joining us in 1997!
What do you love most about Community‘s “Celebrity Pharmacology 212”? Sound off in the comments below! Be sure to join me next week for another installment of Looking Streets Behind, where we’ll be buzzing about “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.” Hector the Well-Endowed will be there.
Until then, stay streets ahead.
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