Community S5 Ep08 – App Development and Condiments

Community S5 Ep08 - App Development and Condiments

“App Development and Condiments” takes a stab at social media when two app developers (comedic guest stars Brian Posehn and Steve Agee) choose to have Greendale beta test their new app, MeowMeowBeenz. MeowMeowBeenz gives its users the freedom to objectively rate other users on a five point scale. Those with five MeowMeows are ranked the highest while those with one MeowMeow are “garbage,” according to Dean Pelton. This quickly divides Greendale into different factions. The fives live in what looks like a futuristic utopia while the ones are banished to The Outlands, and so on. On top of this Jeff and Shirley’s friendship is on the line after Jeff intentionally doesn’t invite her to a group dinner. With MeowMeowBeanz now a thing at Greendale, Shirley uses the opportunity to rise and become a five in order to not feel left out and have the control of who does, as the five’s ratings are worth more.

Community S5 Ep08 - App Development and Condiments

Buzz Hickey living life as a five.

This episode is a very obvious satire on social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and how we value ourselves based on the opinions of others. “App Development and Condiments” simplifies the idea of “likes” and “retweets” with the MeowMeowBeanz rating system. I thought it was very clever. The division of Greendale is just an over exaggeration of what really happens on social media. A person with more followers (a five) will surely have more influence than someone with close to none (a one). All that being said, the episode never gets too preachy when making this point. It’s all very funny and not meant to be taken too seriously.

The world created because of MeowMeowBeanz is a clear reference to dystopian science fiction stories where the highest class rules over the lower classes, much like something out of The Hunger Games. The five’s futuristic utopia is similar to something out of an old science fiction film like Logan’s Run. The ones live in The Outlands, which it just the outside of Greendale re-imagined as a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I like how Community decides to satirize an entire genre rather than a specific movie or story. The writers know who their fans are and know they will understand these very broad references, and if viewers don’t then they can still enjoy the goofy costumes.

Community S5 Ep08 - App Development and Condiments

Jeff and Shirley banished to The Outlands.

The plot about Shirley being angry with Jeff for not inviting her to dinner is lost in the madness of this episode. Towards the end of the episode, after both Shirley and Jeff have been banished to The Outlands, Shirley brings it up again. By this time I had forgotten this was part of the episode, as I got lost in this weird world Greendale had become. While I still enjoyed the back and forth between the two of them and always like to see Yvette Nicole Brown’s character get more attention, I feel like I’ve already seen that episode. Off the top of my head I can think of two episodes of Community that dealt with this same subject matter. Jeff and Shirley’s differences tear them apart, but they are ultimately reunited at the end with an even stronger relationship.

Overall, “App Development and Condiments” was a clever and funny episode, although not one of the season’s bests. I did love seeing all the references to classic science fiction tropes and honestly wouldn’t mind owning the MeowMeowBeanz app. Some highlights of the episode include Britta learning people give her words more merit only when she has mustard on her face, Jeff desperately trying to work on becoming a five by befriending jocks and proclaiming “women are objects”, and Professor Hickey wearing a birthday hat for the remainder of the episode because according to him no one will give someone a bad rating on their birthday. Lastly, Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz guest stars as a Van Wilder-esq character named Koogler, which inspires a funny fake trailer for a Koogler film. The trailer pays homage to and satirizes old college-based comedies like Animal House.

Community returns next week with “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing,” where the gang will find a secret stash of textbooks and attempt to profit from them, as Annie and Abed search for a new roommate. A new roommate? But who can ever take Troy’s place?

Community S5 Ep09 - VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing

Watch “App Development and Condiments” on Amazon Instant Video.

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