s2 e14. y’all know what i’m gonna say
posted this on IMDb yesterday lol but i’ll put it here too except with some minor edits and profanity.
advanced dungeons & dragons is my number one favorite episode of community. remedial chaos theory is an incredibly close second. that’s how fucking much i love this episode. before getting into the streaming service shit, i’ll explain why this episode is just amazing and brilliant, and the definition of perfection in my eyes.
the episode revolves around a dude nicknamed “fat neil”, for reasons i need not explain. i’m pretty sure neil had been mentioned a few episodes earlier maybe once or twice, but i’m not too sure. either way, neil is a new character to the viewer. technically, we shouldn’t have a reason to care about him. he’s not in the study group or anything; we don’t know him. which is why i continue to find myself impressed with this episode, and with charley koontz’s performance that literally brings me to tears at times. i, along with pretty much everyone else, find myself feeling so bad for neil and just wanting to give him a hug. it’s such a convincing performance, it’s incredible.
anyway, the study group, except for pierce, organizes a group of D&D to play with neil after he gives jeff all his books, saying “he won’t need them anymore”. they hope that this game would cheer him up, and make him decide to continue living. it’s a very dark and heavy subject, but the episode is full of funny moments as well. personally, the part where “the elf maiden” and “hector the well-endowed” are roleplaying “making a deal”, aka fucking, was one of the funniest things i’ve ever seen.
now, before i continue, let’s get into why i’m writing this shit in the first place: netflix and hulu’s decision to remove it. they took the episode off of their platform because chang was cosplaying as a “dark elf” for the game, and he was wearing black paint, elf ears, and a white wig. he was dressed like an elf, but the streaming services removed it for blackface. i know it sounds shocking at first, but listen,
i don’t think they took the time to analyze what was actually happening, what the meaning behind the jokes were, and why they weren’t offensive. chang’s similarities to blackface are immediately addressed in the episode by the characters, like with shirley saying “so we’re just going to ignore that hate crime, huh?”, and jeff wondering why chang hadn’t worn armor or something to be an elf instead.
the joke here isn’t making light of racism or anything. it’s that chang is dumb, and doesn’t realize what his elf costume resembles. let’s not forget that chang is insane, and not very bright. that’s the point. we know chang is dumb. it was too easy for netflix/hulu to see black paint, delete the episode, and call it a day, but they didn’t understand the message behind the jokes. the chang scenes, which by the way, is an insanely small portion of the beginning of the episode, show how tone-deaf people can be with their actions, even if their intentions aren’t bad.
now that i got that out of the way, let us dive a little deeper into why this episode is important and shouldn’t have been deleted for reasons other than chang.
this D&D game that takes place in the episode is referred to throughout the rest of the show. in a fist full of paintballs, neil says to annie, “we’re friends, remember? we played dungeons & dragons together”. that’s one of many examples, but i’m naming that one in particular because i’m thinking of new fans, and how that would just seem like a random choice of a line to them. since D&D is typically associated with “nerds” or “weird kids”, new fans would probably just pass neil off as some random nerd, instead of someone who was once suicidal but was saved by the study group, and that breaks my heart honestly.
which brings me to my next point: pierce. in advanced dungeons & dragons, he sees his friends playing the game without him, and he’s jealous that he wasn’t invited. we watch him become something of a supervillain fueled by his jealousy, which again, repeats itself throughout the show, such as in a fist full of paintballs and even remedial chaos theory when he gives troy the doll he was afraid of. as abed would probably put it, this is like pierce’s “origin story”. so many things will seem random or even a little confusing to new fans, which is pretty unfortunate since community relies a lot on the dynamics between the characters. remedial chaos theory is an example. (damn i’m really repeating the same examples over and over). anyway, without one of the sources of pierce’s jealousy and slight character shift, some things might be left feeling empty or with a few holes in it for future viewers.
and finally, here’s the biggest reason i believe the episode shouldn’t have been removed, which kind of combines all of them but still: the message. this is a very well-done episode that deals with topics of bullying, depression, and suicidal thoughts in such a unique way. D&D, being associated with “nerds” as i mentioned earlier, suddenly becomes 1000x more important, as neil’s life depends on it. in any other type of episode or even show, i honestly wouldn’t care too much about a little game, especially because i don’t really enjoy games, but the writers are able to make us care so much about a game that should be just that, a game, but they made it so much more.
i think this is an important episode because mental illness, bullying, and struggles with self esteem are real issues that many people deal with in their daily lives, and neil is someone that many people can relate to. even if you don’t relate to some of neil’s struggles, it’s still an emotional journey. this is why i don’t understand why those few minutes of “dark elf” chang, which i’ve already dissected and explained earlier, overshadow the importance of the other huge aspects of this episode.
in conclusion, i’m disappointed in netflix and hulu, and whatever other streaming service removed/will remove this episode. it’s clear to me that they’re just trying their hardest to be “woke”. honestly, I hadn’t seen anyone bat a fucking eye over this scene/episode. there was no outrage from anyone. if the scene upset people, they would have said something back in april, hell, even fucking 2011 for god’s sake. in fact, people only began talking about it because of the episode’s removal. even now, i’ve seen very few people online who were actually offended by the scene. for the most part, even the ones who found it offensive/racist thought the episode should stay. why, you may ask? because most people understand the purpose and message behind the joke.
i hope that netflix, hulu, and/or others reconsider their decisions to pull the plug on this masterpiece. they should actually listen to the fans. listen to the people who found comfort in having a character like neil to relate to, even just for an episode. listen to people instead of removing anything you think makes you seem un-PC without hesitation, without even understanding the meaning behind it, or its importance.