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 “Mixology Certification,” Troy’s grand entry into bona fide adulthood. This episode undeservedly flies below the radar. While it may not be overly laden with Community‘s trademark meta-humor and zany antics, “Mixology Certification” has a certain charm to it. We get to see the study group outside of their regular habitat. We get to see them being normal human beings and not Greendale Human Beings.
So, without further ado, I present to you an alcohol-infused retrospective into “Mixology Certification.”
Now, the episode starts with the gang singing “Happy Birthday” to Troy (Donald Glover). Pierce (Chevy Chase) wonders why they only sang the last two words of the song. Funnily enough, that’s all we hear when the episode opens. The study group is trying to be respectful of Troy’s Jehovah’s Witness upbringing. Hence the nondescript cake presented to him, which reads thusly: “Hello, during a random dessert, the month and day of which coincide numerically with your expulsion from a uterus.” It’s a thing of beauty.
Annie (Alison Brie) reads aloud random facts regarding Troy’s birthday. She mentions that Troy was born in the Year of the Horse. However, Troy insists that he was born in the Year of the Snake. This would make him 21 years old. Not everyone was 10 years old for two years in a row, Troy. Only the cool kids were.
Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) were set on returning to actual studying since the group is easily derailed by inane matters. They’ll literally throw a shindig for anything as long as it gets them out of studying. But, the pair change their tune when they discover that Troy is about to become a full-fledged adult. This calls for an overabundance of booze. They argue over where they should go — Jeff’s “douche-y” bar or Britta’s hipster haven. Both settle on a third option and the gang heads out to party it up. Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) offers Pierce a ride since the latter has double broken legs.
But, Pierce being Pierce, he declines the offer. Britta scores a fake ID for Annie since she’s still a minor. Annie, nervous that she’ll get in trouble for utilizing a fake ID, shrugs on the persona of Caroline Decker — the name on her fake ID. Caroline Decker from Corpus Christi, Texas, to be exact. Yes, there’s an accent involved. Because Annie, duh-doy!
Jeff informs Britta that their third party bar is closed. They mosey on over to yet another dive-like establishment, but this one gives Shirley pause. When everyone arrives, we see that Shirley used to be quite the raucous regular. Photos of plastered Shirley are plastered everywhere. She surreptitiously moves about the space and removes them.
The bartender, played by the always awesome Tig Notaro, chats up Caroline Decker from Corpus Christi, Texas. Abed (Danny Pudi) heads off to play arcade games. He’s soon in the crosshairs of a mystery bar dweller portrayed by Paul F. Tompkins. The duo dish on all things Farscape. Abed seems oblivious to the fact that homeboy is definitely hitting on him.
Jeff and Britta give Troy advice regarding his first drink as a legal 21-year-old. They argue over the perfect drink and discourage Troy from getting his late uncle’s favorite concoction. Just loads of charged, ultimately flirtatious bickering. They’re just being Jeff and Britta, folks! We see another moment wherein Troy expresses interest in Britta, but Jeff reminds him that “hurricanes are bad.” Britta’s the hurricane in this metaphor.
Abed’s new bar friend dumps water on him. Abed reveals that he knew Paul F. Tompkins was hitting on him, but he drew out the conversation because he loves Farscape so much. I feel that, but about Community. Annie relishes in being Caroline Decker a little too much. She tells Tig Notaro that her “friend Annie” never takes risks and plans everything out to the letter. Clearly, Annie wishes she were more reckless like Caroline, who most likely has an unfinished mermaid tattoo. And a crappy credit score. But don’t we all? Side note: Brie could not be more adorable in this episode if she tried.
Britta, Jeff and Troy discover a photo of a drunken Shirley from a rough patch in the latter’s life. Shirley, embarrassed, storms out. Pierce never made it inside due to his high-tech wheelchair. He admits he needs help and asks Shirley to lend a hand. It’s a sweet moment that reminds us all of Pierce’s softer side. She calls him an “ass,” which is probably the nicest thing anyone’s ever called Pierce Anastasia Hawthorne.
Troy is about to take a sip of his alcohol-laden drink at midnight when he notices how depressed his friends are. Abed and Annie are both sitting in forlorn silence. Jeff and Britta are arguing. He decides to take his friends home and forgoes the drink.
Finally, Troy gets to drive Jeff’s car! Jeff and Britta discover that the two bars they’ve been bickering about are actually the same bar. This sets Troy over the edge. He chastises them for essentially knowing just as much as him. Maybe less. He drops Annie off and delivers words of encouragement for his friend. She’s struggling with her life choices and who she is. It’s another sweet Community moment that makes my heart melt.
We see Jeff and Britta sloppily making out on top of Abed in the car. Troy apologizes for yelling at them previously. Abed tattles on Jeff and Britta for snogging, but Troy scolds him for ratting out the drunken pair. The end credit scene reveals Abed putting as many shirts on Troy as possible. They get to 157 shirts when Troy’s phone rings. “It could be a girl!” he exclaims. His delivery of that line never fails to make me chuckle.
The one-liners and gags!
As per usual, Troy has some great lines in this episode. Particularly: “Which would make me 20, because everyone is 10 for two years. Because fifth grade is really hard for every … one. Mom, how many lies have I been living!?” Another goodie: “I want to bathe in manhood.” Additionally, I loved Britta’s line when she’s arguing with Jeff over the bar of choice for Troy’s party. She mentions The Red Door as an option but, in true Jeff fashion, he admonishes it for being a “hipster” bar. “Not hipster, hipsters haven’t discovered it yet. It’s underground,” she retorts. Never Chang, Britta.
I dug the moment where Community poked fun at how all white brunette girls look the same. Annie comments that Caroline Decker doesn’t look much like her, but Britta replies that “she’s a white brunette.” Check and mate. Abed’s monotone delivery when he tattles on Jeff and Britta to Troy gets me every time. “Why would you do it in front of me? I’m not a coat rack,” smacks of truth and we all know it. We’ve all been squished into the backseat of a Lexus while two inebriated people violently make out on top of us … right? Just me? Troy talking about how he “ruined Fuddruckers for everyone” always makes me laugh without fail.
As for running gags, we’ve got the ever-consistent “Aw!” moment courtesy of Annie and Shirley. Troy admitting he never cries as he’s about to cry over his birthday cake. Jeff and Britta adopt the latter’s catchphrase of, “Duh-doy!” when Troy is driving everyone home. Another great running gag occurs when Britta mentions Beirut and begins to extol its cultural significance. Everyone simultaneously groans and they essentially berate her for being “the worst.” Thankfully, Troy thinks Britta’s the best, just like I do.
Fun fact: Dan Harmon used to poke fun at Yvette Nicole Brown for being an “alcoholic,” despite the fact that it’s far from the truth. Since Shirley clearly struggled with drinking at some point in her life, this episode was the payoff of Harmon’s joke. Props to Brown for playing the “straight character” in an episode rife with our core characters’ general tomfoolery.
The alcohol of it all!
“Mixology Certification” may not be the best episode of Community ever, but it’s certainly one of my favorites. I love the camaraderie between the group. Troy realizing that he doesn’t need to imbibe in order to “become a man.” How our crew was supposed to let Troy go wild on the booze, but the opposite happens. Troy’s keen observation that alcohol makes people sad. The small, sweet moments sprinkled throughout. Whether it’s Troy’s pep talk to Annie or Shirley helping out Pierce. Those moments of genuine, pure humanity are the cornerstone of what makes Community great. Besides the zaniness and meta-humor, of course.
And there was some good ol’ fashioned making out. Alcohol makes people sad and horny, Troy. But mostly horny.
What do you love most about Community‘s “Mixology Certification”? Sound off in the comments below! Be sure to join me next week for another installment of Looking Streets Behind, where we’ll be diving into a non-denominational, festive classic — “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.”
Until then, stay streets ahead.
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