Community is so meta, so self-aware, so simultaneously engaged in utilizing and deconstructing sitcom tropes... that sometimes, when the show stirs up a genuine emotional reaction, I feel a bit like a chump.
Here I am, getting choked up all over a show that's way too smart to actually want you to get choked up?
But Community Season 5 wants you to feel real things, even as it delivers perfectly crafted jokes about cop movies and Dane Cook - and Community Season 5 Episode 7 was perhaps the show's finest achievement in the field of actually, you know, feeling stuff.
Though the half hour didn't lack for razor-sharp Community quotes, every plot thread - from Abed's verbal sparring match with Hickey, to Jeff and Duncan's competitive feelings about Britta... to Britta's sadness and confusion about her old friends's new lives - was absolutely brutal in its emotional honesty.
Abed's interaction with Hickey, in fact, might have been the sharpest emotional moment in the show's history.
The idea of replacing Troy with Hickey seems completely counter-intuitive at first; Hickey is a grizzled ex-cop, Troy is someone who joyfully named a monkey "Annie's Boobs."
But Jonathan Banks's Hickey absolutely burned through his first performance as Abed's tough love father figure. Watching them go at it, I didn't think I was watching my favorite Community moment of the year - I was watching the best five minutes of network television that I've seen this season.
Duncan and Jeff's thread, while less emotionally action-packed, still felt real and developed, even with as many goofy moments as it contained. Having more than proved its comedy credentials, Community appears to moving on to the next level, taking a crack at becoming the funniest sitcom on television that's also boldly emotionally truthful.
It's a tall order, but I think the study group might just be the kickpunchers to fill it.
Also: okay, I lied - the thing with Chang in the haunted closet wasn't emotionally brutal. But it was amazing. God bless us, every Chang!
But maybe my feelings about Hickey and Abed are colored too much by my love for Jonathan Banks. You tell me:
Will Abed's friendship with Hickey be as entertaining as his friendship with Troy?