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. This go-round, we’re delving into “Intro to Political Science.” We learned that 9/11 was bad and freedom, well, that’s just a bit better. That beer should be cold and boots should be dusty. Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. Jeff Winger said that, right? In addition, we learned that Dean Pelton can definitely pull off his sister’s Uncle Sam outfit and that Maurice doesn’t know sh*t when it comes to freshly-squeezed apple juice. So help us, God.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into “Intro to Political Science.” Pop-pop!
Now, we open with our crew in the study room. Pierce (Chevy Chase) is talking about comparing penises with celebrities in rehab. What else is new? Britta (Gillian Jacobs) suggests they study for their anthropology class. Thankfully, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) waltzes in at just the right time. He reveals that Vice President Joe Biden (well, now president) will be visiting Greendale as part of his tour. His folksy yet progressive tour. The dean informs the group that a student body presidential election will take place that day. Biden has to meet with Pelton and whoever is elected as student body president. Our Annie (Alison Brie) decides to toss her hat into the governmental ring.
Meanwhile, Abed (Danny Pudi) notices that Secret Service is surveilling the campus. One particular agent, Robin Vohlers (Eliza Coupe), has taken a shining to Abed. Pelton makes an announcement in the cafeteria. Those interested in running for president must line up by the ice cream machine. He introduces each candidate one by one. The audience responds via vigorous clapping. If someone garners a lot of support, they’re thrown into the race. Garrett (Erik Charles Nielsen) just wanted ice cream and people love him for that. Jeff (Joel McHale) puts on a “folksy yet progressive” faςade, which definitely curries favor with the voters.
Annie presents a prudent and practical platform. Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) cheers her on. Magnitude (Luke Youngblood) pop-pops his way to the top as a favorite candidate. Leonard (Richard Erdman) also decides to run on the blowing raspberries campaign. Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos) just really wants people to know that his name is Alex. Newcomer Vicki (Danielle Kaplowitz) enters the fray and Pierce decides to run against her. It’s payback for her not lending him a pencil. Abed and Troy (Donald Glover) provide commentary via Greendale Community College’s premier closed-circuit TV channel.
Now, Abed is being searched by the Secret Service agents. Routine searching and whatnot. There’s noticeable chemistry between him and Vohlers. In the cafeteria, the chosen candidates are competing in a debate. Jeff continues to woo the crowd with his infallible charm. Annie vows to make Greendale the signature community college in the entire western three-quarters of the Greendale area. She also rallies folks together with what could serve as a campaign slogan: “No matter what you’re told, we have to clean the mold!”
Next, Abed finds his dorm room in utter disarray after Vohlers and her partner conduct yet another “routine search.” She wanted him to be a “threat.” Annie pulls out the big guns during the debate. She plays Jeff’s audition tape for The Real World, wherein he performed “Faith” by George Michael. As the audience bursts into raucous laughter, Jeff flees the scene in tears. Annie finds him hiding in shame. She decides to drop out of the race, as does Jeff. Their friendship is more important. Vicki also withdraws her candidacy and Pierce is right on her heels. Oh, and she finally gives him a pencil … in the face.
Later, we see the student body presidential debate of the century. Magnitude versus Leonard. Will pop-pops overcome raspberries? After eleven whole people place their votes, we learn that Comedy Central animated series South Park takes the crown. South Park is now Greendale’s student body president. Meanwhile, Abed reveals on camera how to make napalm, which diverts Biden’s tour. Vohlers assures Biden that she’ll check out the threat herself.
In the end credit scene, we see Abed is watching Kickpuncher. Vohlers is also watching the flick via binoculars from the safety of her vehicle. After the film ends, Abed suggests through a microphone that she should observe him while he has dinner next time. Adorable.
The one-liners and gags!
Now, one of my favorite gags in “Intro to Political Science” happens at the beginning of the episode. Abed makes a notch in the table tallying each of Jeff’s “Classic ‘Wingers.'” Jeff also leaves notches for “Ab Mentions.” Lastly, since comedy comes in threes, Troy carves a notch in the table for “Notches.” Oh, Troy. Never Chang.
Additionally, I love the dig at the live-action The Last Airbender movie. Special Agent Glenn Keenlan: “He’s clean. Although I should probably warn you about this bootleg copy of The Last Airbender.” “Where were you a week ago?” Abed jokes. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Britta’s excellent Britta moment — “Mankind need not be governed!” Pelton’s response is perfect. “Good to know there’s a floor on this thing.” It’s made all the better by Rash’s flawless delivery.
Troy and Abed’s political commentary cracks me up every time. Firstly, it’s the birth of Troy “Butt Soup” Barnes. How the “margin of error” is a whopping 98 percent, but they don’t know how to do margins of error. And this gem of a line in reference to Garrett: “That guy’s such a mess. It’s like God spilled a person.”
Star-Burns also has a great line whenever he withdraws from the race. “I actually withdraw my candidacy. I fear a political career will shine a negative light on my drug dealing. Thank you.” Jeff’s fantastic bit that’s all about animals. Very poetic. “I’m sorry, Annie. I’m not the worker bee type. I’m more of a silverback gorilla with the claws of a lion, the teeth of a shark, and the quiet dignity of a tortoise.”
Really, there are so many splendiferous one-liners in this episode. Fun fact: there was a scene with Abed and Agent Vohlers kissing, but it was later cut. Biden’s dream about being the president actually came to fruition last year! While the Community Powers That Be aren’t prophetic (or maybe they are), I like to think they predicted this. “Intro to Political Science” marks the first mention of the elusive Ass Crack Bandit. Annie vows to catch the fiend who sticks quarters in people’s butts. Rumor has it that she herself may be the ACB. We’ll never truly know…
In the news banner that runs amid Troy and Abed’s commentary, you can see a report about a mysterious “Air Vent Monster.” This is in reference to the monkey Annie’s Boobs, who lives in the school air vents. During the news crawl, there’s a blurb about Professor Slater and how she’s “still missing.” Additionally, we see that the spring picnic will be “Western-themed,” which alludes to the season two finale paintball episodes.
At the beginning of the episode, you can see that the following is written on the dry-erase board in the study room: “If the opposite of pro is con … does that mean the opposite of progress is … Congress?” Leave it to Community to not only post something poignant but give us a thematic nod to the nature of the episode.
The margin of error of it all!
Overall, Community‘s “Intro to Political Science” is political satire at its best. Abed’s story with Agent Vohlers is sickeningly sweet, and I wish their relationship could’ve blossomed. There are lots of lovely Jeff and Annie moments in this episode as well. Jim Rash makes everything better with his delivery and his elaborate outfits. It’s also a treasure trove of Easter eggs for previous Community outings.
I’ll leave you with this Troy quote that resonates with me on a profound level. “So, Abed, what’s up with politics?”
What do you love most about Community‘s “Intro to Political Science”? Sound off in the comments below! Be sure to join me next time for another installment of Looking Streets Behind, where we’ll be buzzing about “Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy.” Jeff “Nipple Play” Winger will be there.
Until then, stay streets ahead.
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