Why Community Star Jim Rash Loved Wearing Dean Pelton's Ridiculous Costumes

If you watch nearly any television program, you maybe haven't noticed something about the way the characters look. Very rarely does a character ever wear the same outfit on another episode. The program could be about someone very down on their luck, yet they somehow have the means for a new wardrobe every week. I have never understood the obsession some people have with never repeating the same clothes. You see this with celebrities in places ranging from red carpets to having paparazzi photos show up in a magazine. Wearing the same thing more than once is some kind of social suicide, and on television, the mentality crosses over.

Take the show "Community." It is about the day-to-day lives of a group of community college students. Why should they have seemingly endless items of clothing in their closets? Each character has their own distinct style and what looks to be an infinite combination of clothes to play with. For a vain character like Joel McHale's Jeff Winger, that makes total sense, but the rest certainly don't, especially when there are episodes explicitly about their economic situations.

However, one character has a specific supply of clothes they make sure you notice doesn't run out, and that is Jim Rash's Dean Pelton. While he spends most of his time adorned in a short-sleeve button-down shirt, slacks, and a tie, he also has a parade of outrageous costumes tucked away to spring on the study group when inspiration strikes. They range from Catwoman to Roman noble to a giant peanut bar. It's so much a part of the character they constructed a sequence in their fake clip show episode just to showcase the outfits. Some actors might be irritated at dressing up this much, but not Rash.

It's just a dean, I mean dream

Jim Rash only began as a recurring character on "Community," becoming a regular in season three. The dean would pop up here and there to deliver announcements or say something odd, but Dan Harmon and the writers quickly caught on to what a comedic goldmine they had in Rash, a consummate improviser and Oscar-winning screenwriter game for just about anything. This included the costumes, which began in season 1 with the politically correct "Mister Winter." In season 2, the costume department started going hog wild. Lady Gaga, Scarlett O'Hara, a bumblebee with a front stinger ... the costumes weren't just more extravagant, but they also opened doors into his sexuality, which purposely is never strictly defined. Talking with Variety, Rash said of playing Dean Pelton:

"It's just a dream. You get to be this very heightened individual amid a more grounded circle. Whether it's donning many, many costumes or lovely polyester, it's been a blast."

Not only do the costumes have the dean stand out from his community college compatriots, but they allow for some true variety in Rash's own life, who doesn't describe his own wardrobe in such glowing terms as he does his character's, saying, "There's nothing on my body on a day-to-day basis that I would want to keep." I'm not sure he would want to go around dressed as Tina Turner all day, but doing "Community" gave him the opportunity.

But even through all the wildness, Rash still got to play a fully realized human being, mixing silliness with a fleshed-out inner life. As he said to HitFix:

"As long as Dan [Harmon] continues and they give us that heart and understanding of who these people are I think you can always enjoy the insanity."

And we do.