39. "Mixology Certification," Community (2010)
Welcome to the “100 Best Sitcom Episodes of All Time,” a countdown for 2012. Each episode will get a separate blog post, counting backward toward No. 1. A list of the programs revealed so far is here (and on Pinterest), and an introduction to the project is here.
"Mixology Certification," in which the study group takes Troy to a bar to celebrate his 21st birthday, is a great example of a field trip episode. The change in scenery emboldens some characters and shows others at their most vulnerable. This episode also helps establish Troy and Annie as the real protagonists of the series, as Community focuses less on second chances (Jeff returning to school after being disbarred) and more on the process of defining oneself as an adult.
This is one of the least genre-bending episodes of Community — no animation, no tricks with chronology — and it has some darkly contemplative moments, but it also has a lot of comic high points. There's Annie insisting on creating a Texas accent and back story to go with the name on her fake ID. And there's Jeff and Britta's sniping over the lameness of certain bars and drinks. (Jeff suggests going to a place that's "fun, divey, but not staph-infection divey," Britta mocks his "high-maintenance poseur drinking," and Troy says, "I can't wait to understand these arguments!") I confess to taking part in such debates, and they do get ridiculous pretty quickly.