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. Ten years ago today, “Aerodynamics of Gender” bounced onto our screens. This Season Two episode is underrated, in my humble opinion. Initially, I didn’t think much of it either, but after multiple viewings I can safely say that it belongs in the upper echelon with Greendale staples like “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” and “Remedial Chaos Theory.”
Well, enough dillydallying. Time to slit your butts’ throats!
“Aerodynamics of Gender” finds our Greendale Seven split into two groups: the girls (plus Abed) and the boys. Annie (Alison Brie), Britta (Gillian Jacobs) and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) are at the whim of a slew of mean girls led by Meghan (Hilary Duff). Thankfully, Abed’s (Danny Pudi) “Rowboat Cop” demeanor quickly cuts them down to size.
Meanwhile, Troy (Donald Glover) and Jeff (Joel McHale) stumble upon a secret paradise — a lone and pristine trampoline that’s sequestered away from prying eyes. Pierce (Chevy Chase) continues to be the Big Bad for Season Two and ultimately tarnishes Trampoline Paradise for everyone. Chang (Ken Jeong) serves as someone on the outside looking in as he’s incessantly rejected by the study group.
Now, the girls utilize Abed’s keenly observational abilities to belittle “bad” girls. Abed seizes the opportunity to make his friends happy and, as per his usual, finds a relatable pop culture reference for the situation. He’s RoboCop, or as Britta says, “Rowboat Cop.” We see a robotic interface appear every time Abed maliciously dissects a girl based on her appearance.
Well, it isn’t malicious per se coming from Abed, but the girls make it so. Abed realizes that he’s gone too far after he starts verbally tearing his friends apart. He hands Meghan a stack of flashcards that serve as “destruct codes.” We see they are merely insults Meghan has to direct at Abed in order to “neutralize” him. It’s the perfect homage to Mean Girls I didn’t know I needed.
Troy and Jeff discovering the secret trampoline feels very reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia. There’s even a door Troy walks through to find the sacred bouncing sanctuary on the other side. Jeff and Troy are more at peace than ever before — the space is pure, peaceful and quiet. A janitor named Joshua (Matt Walsh) ushers them in and urges them to keep this place a secret. Trampolines are a huge no-no at Greendale. However, Pierce being Pierce pitches a fit because he wasn’t invited to Trampoline Paradise. Inevitably, it all crashes into a dumpster when Pierce crashes into a … dumpster. He breaks Joshua’s first rule, which is thusly: no double bouncing!
We learn that Joshua is a Nazi once he’s fired for harboring a secret trampoline on campus. Troy and Jeff realize they were too blinded by their love for the bounce to notice Joshua’s offensive remarks and blatant swastika chest tattoo. Jeff utters quite the profound statement: if purity is exclusive, then it’s not really pure. Pierce piggybacks off that by stating that purity is in the heart. An unusually sweet comment from Pierce, folks. The world truly is ending.
“Aerodynamics of Gender” marks the introduction of Pierce’s addiction to painkillers after breaking both of his legs. Andy Dick is also introduced as the helicopter pilot that Pierce continuously hallucinates.
The one-liners and gags!
Community never falls short on one-liners and running gags. Annie’s boobs are referenced again in this episode when Annie urges Britta and Shirley to “boob bump” with her. In the beginning of “Aerodynamics of Gender,” Britta remarks how the men are always talking about “doing things to each other’s butts,” and the joke continues to give freely throughout the episode.
Notably, when Pierce challenges Jeff and Troy to play some hoops with him. “I’m gonna slit your butts’ throats!” and “These balls on your butts!” come to mind. I know what you’re thinking — Pierce is gesturing to his eyeballs during this scene. Get your minds out of the gutter.
Shirley has a terrific line in this episode as well. When the girls are first introduced to Meghan and her mean squad, Shirley says, “Why name your daughter Meghan? Are you stocking up for a b*tch shortage?” It’s perfection. Another great line transpires when Annie calls Abed a machine. Abed begins to think of himself as RoboCop, but Britta Brittas the line by calling him “Rowboat Cop.” “Cherise is a bad rowboat. Sink her,” she urges Abed after spotting a particularly mean girl on campus.
Another fun gag happens after Pierce chastises Troy and Jeff for not including him in their relaxation escapades. “Let me just make sure Pierce isn’t hovering around,” Troy says as he checks the hallway to ensure Pierce isn’t following them to Trampoline Paradise. Naturally, a remote-operated toy helicopter that belongs to Pierce trails behind the duo to their secret haven. Troy cries when Pierce forces himself on the trampoline because Troy cries at everything. We love him for that. Britta’s mispronunciation of RoboCop is reminiscent of the “bag-ul” incident. Hey, she lived in New York. That’s how they say it!
Shirley’s “that’s nice” catchphrase is put to good use. The girls saying “aw” in tandem when Abed claims he wants to continue making them happy by verbally trashing the mean girls. The running gags on Community make me so damn happy. Even though Chang is sidelined this time, his line “That burn was brought to you by the letter ‘S’ as in ‘Snap'” also makes me so damn happy.
The trampoline of it all!
Ah, the trampoline of it all. How a show can take a simple act such as jumping on a trampoline and morph it into a metaphor for Nazism is mindboggling. I will say Joshua being a Nazi threw me for a loop, but it’s inexplicably brilliant. Thankfully, the show does nothing to promote Joshua’s behavior and a lesson is even gleaned. It just goes to show how simultaneously dangerous and beguiling trampolines can be. And racists are apparently into them. Troy comments on how Joshua’s racism came out of nowhere, but “a place free from darkness” is a dead giveaway in retrospect.
The Mean Girls storyline is also ingenious. Our core ladies start out with the pure motive of purging the streets of mean girls and, in turn, transform into the very thing they’re trying to eradicate. Abed, of all people, points this out to them. While he may not be deft with social cues, he observes more than anyone realizes. Needing Meghan, the mean girl, to “restore order” by “neutralizing” him was a highlight for me. Abed shoving every scenario through a pop culture lens will always give me immense joy.
What do you love most about Community‘s “Aerodynamics of Gender”? Sound off in the comments below! Be sure to join me next week for another installment of Looking Streets Behind, where we’ll be delving into one of my favorite Community episodes, “Cooperative Calligraphy.”
Until then, stay streets ahead.
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