‘Community’ And The Dean: Are Things Getting Worse?

I’ve written before that I feel some anxiety about the way Community has treated Dean Pelton, turning him into a collection of freakish fetishes rather a person with an actual sexual orientation and capacity for relationships. From the way NBC is marketing Pelton’s role in the new season, I’m worried that they don’t see that as a problem — in fact, that they see it as an asset. Take the clip introducing John Goodman’s character, vice dean of Greendale’s air conditioning repair program:

Seriously, we’re meant to think it’s funny that Goodman’s character’s threatening Pelton with what sounds suspiciously like sexual assault: “Now you’re going to feel my power, straight through you from nostril to rectum”? And it’s supposed to be funny that the Dean is so sex-starved that he wails, “I forgot everything you said before rectum”? Apparently, these are the talking points, or at least they’re trickling down, since Goodman’s now describing his character as having “[the dean’s] privates in a vice.”

Community‘s been as good as it has by pairing delightfully weird humor and scenario with a commitment to fully fleshing out a wide range of characters, male and female, white and people of color, young and old. It’s weird that the two gay-coded characters we have are the most stereotypical, least-developed folks on the show. If they keep taking the Dean in this direction, Magnitude’s going to look like a progressive option.