Community 1x05: “Advanced Criminal Law”The Dean opens by attempting to convince everyone publicly over the PA system that Greendale is a real college simply because they will have their own song and a statue of prestigious alumnus Luis Guzman by the end of the week. He is projecting a lie that he believes, in an attempt to get others to believe it. Professor Duncan scoffs at his attempt at conveying respectability and meets with Jeff to discuss Britta’s relationship status. Duncan is interested in pursuing Britta, but he is not sure if Jeff is involved with her. Jeff is noncommittal and dismissive in his response, and we are not sure how he currently views his relationship with Britta. We must draw our own conclusions at this point. This episode is about self-deception and its external consequences.

Abed walks into class with Troy and asks if he thinks Luis Guzman will come visit the statue. Troy responds with sarcasm, and we are given visual cues in his facial features to see that he is lying and wants us to know because it is a joke. Abed does not pick up on the visual cues and Troy begins to lie straight faced, bringing Abed into a wildly concocted fantasy. Jeff sits down in front of them and tells Britta that he has discovered that she lied to him about her phone number. She says that she will give him the real number if he promises not to use it in a context other than friendship. He declines the number, and we are led to believe that it is because he does not wish for friendship, but he has still not revealed his intentions yet. Chang confronts the class about a tiny cheat sheet he has found lying on the floor of the classroom after their last test. He threatens punishment for everybody, unless the person who cheated confesses. He is showing how a tiny personal lie can harm others around an individual if it begins to show itself.

In the study group, Shirley complains about Chang’s stereotype of her during class and follows that up with an affirmation of the type. She is lying to herself about what she is living up to, and we can see Annie react knowingly to Shirley’s straight faced inner lie. Blame for cheating is passed around the table between the members of the group, and each offer terse perceptions of the person they think cheated, all of the accused accept their perceived character flaws except Pierce, who lies to himself and mishears the character flaw they gave him as a compliment (he turns the word stupid into genius). Jeff says that whoever cheated “wasn’t a real cheater, just insecure and naive,” and we are left not knowing for sure who has cheated. We can only read the visual cues the character’s give and draw our own conclusions. Annie changes the subject to her work on the school song, and Pierce tells her that he is a great songwriter and will work on it for free. He tells her this with confident visual cues. Troy reveals to Abed that the things he said earlier were lies, and Abed attempts to explore the foreign concept of lying by questioning the nature of concrete objects (“This isn’t a table, haha”).

Annie tells Pierce he is allowed to write the song and he now looks visibly worried, implying that his earlier brag was a lie. In class, Chang offers the cheater one last chance to confess. Everyone looks tense and Britta stands up to confess saying that it is not fair for Chang to punish the whole class. At this point, from her visual cues and speech, it would appear that she is lying to everyone to seem like a hero. Outside the classroom Jeff confronts Britta about being a cheat. At this point, we do not know what Jeff believes, but he is reaching out to Britta even though her lie has been revealed. She asks if he really wants to be her friend or is just hitting on her again, and he says he can neither confirm nor deny. His motive is hidden, and we are again left to draw our own conclusions.

Abed meets Troy and attempts to lie by questioning the nature of accepted reality again. He says “All dogs are blue now, every single dog in the world is blue.” Troy tells Abed that his visual cues give away his lies “you are not good at this, because you are not believable in your face, ok? Your face, it’s bad.” Abed begins writing in a notebook using a foreign language, and he says “it’s probably Arabic” when Troy questions him about it. Abed runs away making warbling spaceship noises. Abed is all the time giving us slight tells that he does not believe the lie he is acting out. He is pretending that he is alien and not of this world, which is a criticism many others have of him, and in pretending to be foreign he is embodying the way he saw lying earlier as a foreign concept. He has begun to act out how he thinks Troy wants him to act to be his friend, but he does not yet fully believe the lie judging by his cues.

The tribunal that will judge Britta convenes with a $6,000 table next to the pool area. The entire tribunal setup is a self-deception about its place and importance. Professor Duncan argues with Señor Chang over whether or not Chang is allowed to call himself Professor. Chang is lying to himself about his status, and Professor Duncan is lying to himself about his status mattering here (recall the opening scene in which he discounts the dean’s proclamation that Greendale is a real college). The dean makes a double entendre when he says that he “goes both ways” in his partiality in the case, but he asks to have that stricken from the record and clarifies that he is impartial. Regarding the tribunal, we know there is one side that likes Britta and wants to believe her (remember Duncan’s discussion with Jeff earlier), and an opposing side that does not like her and does not believe her (Chang believes she is a cheat). At present, we still do not know the truth and must also choose a side and draw our own conclusions.

Pierce is still lying to Annie and himself about being able to write a song, and she is starting not to believe the lie. He gets defensive when she picks the lie apart and dismisses her. In the commentary, Harmon reveals that “Pierce is a sort of mockery of me. My writing workflow is to shut myself in procrastinate and yell at everyone who comes near me. Tell them I’m a genius even though I’m not.”

Chang lies in his testimony to the tribunal. Britta is brought to the stand and says that she did not make the cheat sheet and that when she said so earlier, she was lying. The dean calls her a hero and she admits that she has just lied and she actually did cheat. The tribunal can be seen as Britta’s psyche choosing what to do about the revealed lie. She can either renew the old lie that she cheated or adopt the new lie that she is a hero. She rejects the new lie, and begins to renew the old lie of being a cheat.

Troy finds Abed talking to himself as if he is an alien again and Abed is now using visual cues about his lying to actually endorse the lie, by having his face lie about the fact that he is lying in pretending to be an alien. One school of thought says that self-deception has emerged as a survival mechanism because deceiving others while not believing in your lie costs more mental energy than conveying a lie that you believe. If Abed knows that he is not an alien, he recalls that first and then must act contrary to that to convey that he is an alien, but if he begins to believe that he is an alien, he can go right to that facade he has built within and project it outward with ease.

Jeff confronts Britta about her flip flopping testimony. She says “you know I have a problem with dishonesty” and Jeff reminds her that she is on trial for cheating. Jeff proposes that he will present her as a good person and she remonstrates him, saying “You don’t know that! You’re just doing all of this ‘cus you wanna sleep with me. I mean, you said it yourself, you don’t even want to be my friend.” Jeff never said that. Jeff did not reveal his motivations and left us and Britta to draw our own conclusions, and we now see the lie that Britta has projected onto Jeff which further enforces the lie she believes about herself. He tells her that her lie about him is wrong and that he does still want to be her friend, even as the lie she has been presenting to everyone is crumbling. Britta says she believes him and reveals the foundation of the lie she has built in herself “I have more experience being worthless, I think I left that crib sheet on the floor because I wanted to get caught. Im so used to screwing everything up i just wanted to get it over with.” The fact that she cheated is not the lie. Cheating is lying about personal ability and knowledge, and Britta has just revealed that that is her actual insecurity. The cheating is how it manifested. Having presented her rationalization for believing and acting on her lie about herself to Jeff, he deems her insane. He presents to the tribunal that they are all insane and the the whole school is insane. Everyone lies to themselves and rationalizes things beneath the surface (we have seen almost every character prove this so far). Britta is not anomalous.

Troy finds Abed talking to a pre-filmed version of himself. Abed is still acting out the lie, but now he is telling the lie to himself. The static paradox of self-deception says that at some point if you are deceiving yourself, there is a transitionary moment where you have to both believe and deny the lie. Abed on the screen is wholly into the lie because he does not exist outside of the lie, Abed talking to the screen is at that transitional moment, but Troy stops him before he crosses the threshold. Abed confesses that it was a lie and he was concocting the lie for Troy, because Troy told him that is what friends do. Troy tells him that it would be creepy if the lie were true and that “from now on, Abed friends don’t mess with each other.” Just as Jeff saw Britta’s lie crumble and revealed his desire for friendship, Troy wants to be Abed’s friend outside of the lie, and is there for Abed before he can begin to believe the lie himself.

Pierce has begin lying to himself in the quest to write the song. He steals “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but rejects it once he realizes the lie. Annie comes to him as he  realized this lie, and he admits to Annie that he is a fraud. She asks about his past success with the Hawthorne Wipes jingle and he reveals that it was stolen as well (from “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”). Annie, having seen through Pierce’s lie, offers a personal story for him to relate to and says that she believes in him. Whether or not this is a lie on Annie’s part is unknown, but Pierce takes her parting words of inspiration and completes the song with them.

The statue is unveiled, and Pierce is allowed to play his song. We hear that Pierce’s song is a stolen Bruce Hornsby song, rewritten around Annie’s words, but Pierce does not know that and feels good about himself for completing his assignment and internalizing Annie’s (possible lie of) encouragement. He has believed the lie Annie gave him, but it was a lie that helped him succeed. While self-deception can be used to hinder yourself, Pierce demonstrates that you can believe a lie to help yourself overcome something, now whether or not this is good is brought into question when Abed asks if they can be sued for Pierce’s song and Jeff says that they can be.
Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x05: “Advanced Criminal Law”

The Dean opens by attempting to convince everyone publicly over the PA system that Greendale is a real college simply because they will have their own song and a statue of prestigious alumnus Luis Guzman by the end of the week. He is projecting a lie that he believes, in an attempt to get others to believe it. Professor Duncan scoffs at his attempt at conveying respectability and meets with Jeff to discuss Britta’s relationship status. Duncan is interested in pursuing Britta, but he is not sure if Jeff is involved with her. Jeff is noncommittal and dismissive in his response, and we are not sure how he currently views his relationship with Britta. We must draw our own conclusions at this point. This episode is about self-deception and its external consequences.

image

Abed walks into class with Troy and asks if he thinks Luis Guzman will come visit the statue. Troy responds with sarcasm, and we are given visual cues in his facial features to see that he is lying and wants us to know because it is a joke. Abed does not pick up on the visual cues and Troy begins to lie straight faced, bringing Abed into a wildly concocted fantasy. Jeff sits down in front of them and tells Britta that he has discovered that she lied to him about her phone number. She says that she will give him the real number if he promises not to use it in a context other than friendship. He declines the number, and we are led to believe that it is because he does not wish for friendship, but he has still not revealed his intentions yet. Chang confronts the class about a tiny cheat sheet he has found lying on the floor of the classroom after their last test. He threatens punishment for everybody, unless the person who cheated confesses. He is showing how a tiny personal lie can harm others around an individual if it begins to show itself.

image

In the study group, Shirley complains about Chang’s stereotype of her during class and follows that up with an affirmation of the type. She is lying to herself about what she is living up to, and we can see Annie react knowingly to Shirley’s straight faced inner lie. Blame for cheating is passed around the table between the members of the group, and each offer terse perceptions of the person they think cheated, all of the accused accept their perceived character flaws except Pierce, who lies to himself and mishears the character flaw they gave him as a compliment (he turns the word stupid into genius). Jeff says that whoever cheated “wasn’t a real cheater, just insecure and naive,” and we are left not knowing for sure who has cheated. We can only read the visual cues the character’s give and draw our own conclusions. Annie changes the subject to her work on the school song, and Pierce tells her that he is a great songwriter and will work on it for free. He tells her this with confident visual cues. Troy reveals to Abed that the things he said earlier were lies, and Abed attempts to explore the foreign concept of lying by questioning the nature of concrete objects (“This isn’t a table, haha”).

image

Annie tells Pierce he is allowed to write the song and he now looks visibly worried, implying that his earlier brag was a lie. In class, Chang offers the cheater one last chance to confess. Everyone looks tense and Britta stands up to confess saying that it is not fair for Chang to punish the whole class. At this point, from her visual cues and speech, it would appear that she is lying to everyone to seem like a hero. Outside the classroom Jeff confronts Britta about being a cheat. At this point, we do not know what Jeff believes, but he is reaching out to Britta even though her lie has been revealed. She asks if he really wants to be her friend or is just hitting on her again, and he says he can neither confirm nor deny. His motive is hidden, and we are again left to draw our own conclusions.

image

Abed meets Troy and attempts to lie by questioning the nature of accepted reality again. He says “All dogs are blue now, every single dog in the world is blue.” Troy tells Abed that his visual cues give away his lies “you are not good at this, because you are not believable in your face, ok? Your face, it’s bad.” Abed begins writing in a notebook using a foreign language, and he says “it’s probably Arabic” when Troy questions him about it. Abed runs away making warbling spaceship noises. Abed is all the time giving us slight tells that he does not believe the lie he is acting out. He is pretending that he is alien and not of this world, which is a criticism many others have of him, and in pretending to be foreign he is embodying the way he saw lying earlier as a foreign concept. He has begun to act out how he thinks Troy wants him to act to be his friend, but he does not yet fully believe the lie judging by his cues.

image

The tribunal that will judge Britta convenes with a $6,000 table next to the pool area. The entire tribunal setup is a self-deception about its place and importance. Professor Duncan argues with Señor Chang over whether or not Chang is allowed to call himself Professor. Chang is lying to himself about his status, and Professor Duncan is lying to himself about his status mattering here (recall the opening scene in which he discounts the dean’s proclamation that Greendale is a real college). The dean makes a double entendre when he says that he “goes both ways” in his partiality in the case, but he asks to have that stricken from the record and clarifies that he is impartial. Regarding the tribunal, we know there is one side that likes Britta and wants to believe her (remember Duncan’s discussion with Jeff earlier), and an opposing side that does not like her and does not believe her (Chang believes she is a cheat). At present, we still do not know the truth and must also choose a side and draw our own conclusions.

image

Pierce is still lying to Annie and himself about being able to write a song, and she is starting not to believe the lie. He gets defensive when she picks the lie apart and dismisses her. In the commentary, Harmon reveals that “Pierce is a sort of mockery of me. My writing workflow is to shut myself in procrastinate and yell at everyone who comes near me. Tell them I’m a genius even though I’m not.”

image

Chang lies in his testimony to the tribunal. Britta is brought to the stand and says that she did not make the cheat sheet and that when she said so earlier, she was lying. The dean calls her a hero and she admits that she has just lied and she actually did cheat. The tribunal can be seen as Britta’s psyche choosing what to do about the revealed lie. She can either renew the old lie that she cheated or adopt the new lie that she is a hero. She rejects the new lie, and begins to renew the old lie of being a cheat.

image

Troy finds Abed talking to himself as if he is an alien again and Abed is now using visual cues about his lying to actually endorse the lie, by having his face lie about the fact that he is lying in pretending to be an alien. One school of thought says that self-deception has emerged as a survival mechanism because deceiving others while not believing in your lie costs more mental energy than conveying a lie that you believe. If Abed knows that he is not an alien, he recalls that first and then must act contrary to that to convey that he is an alien, but if he begins to believe that he is an alien, he can go right to that facade he has built within and project it outward with ease.

image

Jeff confronts Britta about her flip flopping testimony. She says “you know I have a problem with dishonesty” and Jeff reminds her that she is on trial for cheating. Jeff proposes that he will present her as a good person and she remonstrates him, saying “You don’t know that! You’re just doing all of this ‘cus you wanna sleep with me. I mean, you said it yourself, you don’t even want to be my friend.” Jeff never said that. Jeff did not reveal his motivations and left us and Britta to draw our own conclusions, and we now see the lie that Britta has projected onto Jeff which further enforces the lie she believes about herself. He tells her that her lie about him is wrong and that he does still want to be her friend, even as the lie she has been presenting to everyone is crumbling. Britta says she believes him and reveals the foundation of the lie she has built in herself “I have more experience being worthless, I think I left that crib sheet on the floor because I wanted to get caught. Im so used to screwing everything up i just wanted to get it over with.” The fact that she cheated is not the lie. Cheating is lying about personal ability and knowledge, and Britta has just revealed that that is her actual insecurity. The cheating is how it manifested. Having presented her rationalization for believing and acting on her lie about herself to Jeff, he deems her insane. He presents to the tribunal that they are all insane and the the whole school is insane. Everyone lies to themselves and rationalizes things beneath the surface (we have seen almost every character prove this so far). Britta is not anomalous.

image

Troy finds Abed talking to a pre-filmed version of himself. Abed is still acting out the lie, but now he is telling the lie to himself. The static paradox of self-deception says that at some point if you are deceiving yourself, there is a transitionary moment where you have to both believe and deny the lie. Abed on the screen is wholly into the lie because he does not exist outside of the lie, Abed talking to the screen is at that transitional moment, but Troy stops him before he crosses the threshold. Abed confesses that it was a lie and he was concocting the lie for Troy, because Troy told him that is what friends do. Troy tells him that it would be creepy if the lie were true and that “from now on, Abed friends don’t mess with each other.” Just as Jeff saw Britta’s lie crumble and revealed his desire for friendship, Troy wants to be Abed’s friend outside of the lie, and is there for Abed before he can begin to believe the lie himself.

image

Pierce has begin lying to himself in the quest to write the song. He steals “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but rejects it once he realizes the lie. Annie comes to him as he  realized this lie, and he admits to Annie that he is a fraud. She asks about his past success with the Hawthorne Wipes jingle and he reveals that it was stolen as well (from “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”). Annie, having seen through Pierce’s lie, offers a personal story for him to relate to and says that she believes in him. Whether or not this is a lie on Annie’s part is unknown, but Pierce takes her parting words of inspiration and completes the song with them.

image

The statue is unveiled, and Pierce is allowed to play his song. We hear that Pierce’s song is a stolen Bruce Hornsby song, rewritten around Annie’s words, but Pierce does not know that and feels good about himself for completing his assignment and internalizing Annie’s (possible lie of) encouragement. He has believed the lie Annie gave him, but it was a lie that helped him succeed. While self-deception can be used to hinder yourself, Pierce demonstrates that you can believe a lie to help yourself overcome something, now whether or not this is good is brought into question when Abed asks if they can be sued for Pierce’s song and Jeff says that they can be.

Episode 1 Analysis

Episode 2 Analysis

Episode 3 Analysis

Episode 4 Analysis

Episode 5 Analysis

Episode 6 Analysis

Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x03: Introduction to Film


"Yes, I’m new, but I’ll be old too soon. Carpe diem, sir, carpe diem!"


Jeff has just regurgitated what the professor has said and has begun to fake his way through the class that is supposed to be a cakewalk. He is still wearing facades to attempt to get what he wants easily. He joins the rest of the group and gives us our first film reference in describing Professor Whitman* “he thinks he’s in Dead Poets society, there’s no tests, no work, just day seizing.” Everyone agrees to join the class except Abed who says his father already has his life planned out for him. This enrages Britta, who takes it upon herself to help Abed follow his dream and take a film class. Troy sneezes in a non-masculine way, and Shirley defends him backhandedly. He yells at her that she is not his mother, this is symbolically significant for the next scene.

In their first class together as a group (sans Abed who is off following his dream in film class), Shirley is told that she has an A in the class if she can explain why she is at Greendale. Shirley gives a practiced response of wanting to sell her baked goods and whatnot on the internet. She gives this response twice before Professor Whitman breaks her down and she divulges: “because I wasted 15 years of my life on a man who left me with nothing but stretch marks and a foggy memory of two bland orgasms and now it’s time to get what’s mine.” Shirley has implied that she most likely was or is married with at least one child and that she has not felt fulfilled for the 15 years of that relationship. She is coming into the second phase of marriage (having been symbolically set free from children by Troy in the previous scene). Joseph Campbell described in The Power of Myth the two phases of marriage which he said are completely different from one another. The first stage he calls youthful marriage, in which you follow biological sexual urges to produce children. He calls the second stage the alchemical stage in which the child has left the nest and the two must assess how to move on as one in this new light. He recounts “I’ve been amazed at the number of my friends who in their forties of fifties go apart. They have had a perfectly decent life together with the child, but they interpreted their union in terms of their relationship through the child. They did not interpret it in terms of their own personal relationship to each other…. It’s not simply one’s own thing, you see. It is, in a sense, doing one’s own thing, but the one isn’t just you, it’s the two together as one.” Shirley can not find that oneness, she has the desire to now find her own thing. We will return to this examination of marriage with other characters later. Going back to our pop culture point of reference, Professor Whitman makes every one stand up on their desks. In Dead Poets Society, the students were made to stand on their professor’s desk in order to see other people’s material from their own point of view, and in the end of the film they stood on their own desks in order to pay homage to his exciting new way of teaching which was being cast out and to disobey the stodgy old way of teaching which was replacing him. At Greendale, the students are standing on their desks to “rise above the programming.” One student falls to the ground, and none of the other students necessarily learn anything. At the end of class, Professor Whitman tells Jeff that he is not seizing the day, just posturing and that he will fail if he does not seize the day.

Abed has begun his film with Britta as his mother. His father comes and demonstrates a controlling influence, arguing with Britta (remember in Dead Poets Society, Neil was controlled and pulled away from his dreams by his father and driven to suicide as a result). Jeff represents a freer influence and wants to let Abed stay and pursue his dream. The real father leaves and Abed places the role of the father onto Jeff (who does not want it) and we can explore a different path than that of control, perhaps the path from before the control started.

Jeff tries to seize the day by dressing outlandishly. Professor Whitman sees through the disguise and tells him that “these won’t cut it.” If Whitman is Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, Jeff is Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy with his suspenders and his dialogue (shazbat). He is attempting to don the younger persona of Whitman in hopes that Whitman will see his freer, younger self in Jeff and let him pass. Jeff is pursuing someone else’s dream though not his own and as a result fails. In this scene we also learn that Abed has rented a new camera for his project that is “more expensive but it let’s me adjust really specific settings that most people don’t notice or think about.” Abed has just described the camera as the psychoanalysis sessions that it is.

Jeff again attempts to seize the day in a put on production, this time through youth. Professor Whitman sees through it and rebukes Jeff “What do you mean, Jeff? What does your life mean? How long does it take you in the morning to make it look like you have bed head? How many sweatpants/sport jacket combos did you try before you found the one that said ‘I don’t care’? Seize the day, Jeff, for real…. Or you won’t just fail my class, you’ll fail life.” Professor Whitman’s imperative to Jeff is that of an examined life, to find one’s bliss and follow it so that every day counts, and Jeff so far has done nothing but copy and regress.

"I think you are really weird, Abed. And I think the wrong person just left." We learn when the video is finished that Abed’s mother left him and his father, and that Abed blames himself for her leaving. When Abed drives Britta away and gets this scolding from Jeff he says "perfect, that’s a wrap," because he has reached the end of his therapy. He has been manipulating Jeff and Britta throughout his film to play out the roles of his parents as he remembers them, to relive his past and analyze it, just as he would in therapy. Looking at it from the other side, Jeff and Britta’s marriage in the film has been completely centered around and defined by Abed, they are still in the youthful stage.

"I think the lesson we can all take away from this, is that everyone should always do whatever they want and leave each other out of it." Jeff finally starts to understand what it would take for him to follow his dream and seize the day, but he had to live through his child and come out of the first phase of his marriage to do so. He has still not acted upon it either. Abed finally leaves the nest after he has worked through his past and resolved his issues with his father and dissolved his strict controlling influence.

This entire episode, Jeff has not been acting towards acquiring Britta, which was his goal in the last two episodes. When he finally does kiss her, Professor Whitman says that he has finally seized the day and that he has passed because it was a “life changing kiss.” The kiss does seem to have changed Jeff for the few seconds we are left with him. Dan Harmon speaks in the commentary regarding the kiss “I don’t know if everyone understands what I was doing in the first season by now or not, but the idea is to take all this stuff away from us. The ‘will they wont they.’ The purpose is let’s have these two make out in the second episode [the pilot is not an episode] for false reasons…. the end of the season, suffice to say we’ve gone everywhere a show can go in the entire run of a show, so what the hell are we gonna do second season? That’s the point, the show is a mockingbird, it masters the art of proving to you that it’s a television show because it’s a cynical time.” I should also bring up the same question I had at the end of "Spanish 101," how competent are these teachers? For all of his wacky antics and jumping about, Professor Whitman never once imparted any knowledge of accounting (the class he was teaching the whole time), so how accurate are we supposed to view his assessment of Jeff’s day seizing at the end?

*Walt Whitman wrote “Oh Captain, My Captain.” Robin Williams asked his class to call him Oh Captain and when he was driven out at the end of the film, they recited the title from atop their desks.
Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x03: Introduction to Film

"Yes, I’m new, but I’ll be old too soon. Carpe diem, sir, carpe diem!"

Jeff has just regurgitated what the professor has said and has begun to fake his way through the class that is supposed to be a cakewalk. He is still wearing facades to attempt to get what he wants easily. He joins the rest of the group and gives us our first film reference in describing Professor Whitman* “he thinks he’s in Dead Poets society, there’s no tests, no work, just day seizing.” Everyone agrees to join the class except Abed who says his father already has his life planned out for him. This enrages Britta, who takes it upon herself to help Abed follow his dream and take a film class. Troy sneezes in a non-masculine way, and Shirley defends him backhandedly. He yells at her that she is not his mother, this is symbolically significant for the next scene.

image

In their first class together as a group (sans Abed who is off following his dream in film class), Shirley is told that she has an A in the class if she can explain why she is at Greendale. Shirley gives a practiced response of wanting to sell her baked goods and whatnot on the internet. She gives this response twice before Professor Whitman breaks her down and she divulges: “because I wasted 15 years of my life on a man who left me with nothing but stretch marks and a foggy memory of two bland orgasms and now it’s time to get what’s mine.” Shirley has implied that she most likely was or is married with at least one child and that she has not felt fulfilled for the 15 years of that relationship. She is coming into the second phase of marriage (having been symbolically set free from children by Troy in the previous scene). Joseph Campbell described in The Power of Myth the two phases of marriage which he said are completely different from one another. The first stage he calls youthful marriage, in which you follow biological sexual urges to produce children. He calls the second stage the alchemical stage in which the child has left the nest and the two must assess how to move on as one in this new light. He recounts “I’ve been amazed at the number of my friends who in their forties of fifties go apart. They have had a perfectly decent life together with the child, but they interpreted their union in terms of their relationship through the child. They did not interpret it in terms of their own personal relationship to each other…. It’s not simply one’s own thing, you see. It is, in a sense, doing one’s own thing, but the one isn’t just you, it’s the two together as one.” Shirley can not find that oneness, she has the desire to now find her own thing. We will return to this examination of marriage with other characters later. Going back to our pop culture point of reference, Professor Whitman makes every one stand up on their desks. In Dead Poets Society, the students were made to stand on their professor’s desk in order to see other people’s material from their own point of view, and in the end of the film they stood on their own desks in order to pay homage to his exciting new way of teaching which was being cast out and to disobey the stodgy old way of teaching which was replacing him. At Greendale, the students are standing on their desks to “rise above the programming.” One student falls to the ground, and none of the other students necessarily learn anything. At the end of class, Professor Whitman tells Jeff that he is not seizing the day, just posturing and that he will fail if he does not seize the day.

image

Abed has begun his film with Britta as his mother. His father comes and demonstrates a controlling influence, arguing with Britta (remember in Dead Poets Society, Neil was controlled and pulled away from his dreams by his father and driven to suicide as a result). Jeff represents a freer influence and wants to let Abed stay and pursue his dream. The real father leaves and Abed places the role of the father onto Jeff (who does not want it) and we can explore a different path than that of control, perhaps the path from before the control started.

image

Jeff tries to seize the day by dressing outlandishly. Professor Whitman sees through the disguise and tells him that “these won’t cut it.” If Whitman is Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, Jeff is Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy with his suspenders and his dialogue (shazbat). He is attempting to don the younger persona of Whitman in hopes that Whitman will see his freer, younger self in Jeff and let him pass. Jeff is pursuing someone else’s dream though not his own and as a result fails. In this scene we also learn that Abed has rented a new camera for his project that is “more expensive but it let’s me adjust really specific settings that most people don’t notice or think about.” Abed has just described the camera as the psychoanalysis sessions that it is.

image

Jeff again attempts to seize the day in a put on production, this time through youth. Professor Whitman sees through it and rebukes Jeff “What do you mean, Jeff? What does your life mean? How long does it take you in the morning to make it look like you have bed head? How many sweatpants/sport jacket combos did you try before you found the one that said ‘I don’t care’? Seize the day, Jeff, for real…. Or you won’t just fail my class, you’ll fail life.” Professor Whitman’s imperative to Jeff is that of an examined life, to find one’s bliss and follow it so that every day counts, and Jeff so far has done nothing but copy and regress.

image

"I think you are really weird, Abed. And I think the wrong person just left." We learn when the video is finished that Abed’s mother left him and his father, and that Abed blames himself for her leaving. When Abed drives Britta away and gets this scolding from Jeff he says "perfect, that’s a wrap," because he has reached the end of his therapy. He has been manipulating Jeff and Britta throughout his film to play out the roles of his parents as he remembers them, to relive his past and analyze it, just as he would in therapy. Looking at it from the other side, Jeff and Britta’s marriage in the film has been completely centered around and defined by Abed, they are still in the youthful stage.

image

"I think the lesson we can all take away from this, is that everyone should always do whatever they want and leave each other out of it." Jeff finally starts to understand what it would take for him to follow his dream and seize the day, but he had to live through his child and come out of the first phase of his marriage to do so. He has still not acted upon it either. Abed finally leaves the nest after he has worked through his past and resolved his issues with his father and dissolved his strict controlling influence.

image

This entire episode, Jeff has not been acting towards acquiring Britta, which was his goal in the last two episodes. When he finally does kiss her, Professor Whitman says that he has finally seized the day and that he has passed because it was a “life changing kiss.” The kiss does seem to have changed Jeff for the few seconds we are left with him. Dan Harmon speaks in the commentary regarding the kiss “I don’t know if everyone understands what I was doing in the first season by now or not, but the idea is to take all this stuff away from us. The ‘will they wont they.’ The purpose is let’s have these two make out in the second episode [the pilot is not an episode] for false reasons…. the end of the season, suffice to say we’ve gone everywhere a show can go in the entire run of a show, so what the hell are we gonna do second season? That’s the point, the show is a mockingbird, it masters the art of proving to you that it’s a television show because it’s a cynical time.” I should also bring up the same question I had at the end of "Spanish 101," how competent are these teachers? For all of his wacky antics and jumping about, Professor Whitman never once imparted any knowledge of accounting (the class he was teaching the whole time), so how accurate are we supposed to view his assessment of Jeff’s day seizing at the end?

image

*Walt Whitman wrote “Oh Captain, My Captain.” Robin Williams asked his class to call him Oh Captain and when he was driven out at the end of the film, they recited the title from atop their desks.

Episode 1 Analysis

Episode 2 Analysis

Episode 3 Analysis

Episode 4 Analysis

Episode 5 Analysis

Episode 6 Analysis

Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x02: “Spanish 101”


"I am your dean with a few corrections to the fall class catalog. Cosmology should be cosmetology, astrology should be astronomy, and the students on the cover should be smiling, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion."


Modern cosmology is the study of the origins and fate of the universe. Not only how we got here, but also how everything got here, its progression, and what its ultimate demise will be. This big picture view is being completely replaced by the superficiality of looking good through donning facades (cosmetology). Astrology is a manufactured belief system placed on top of the stars and planets and other actual heavenly bodies. By turning astrology into astronomy, we are ripping the framework of lies off and studying only the actuality of what is there. This opening voice over by the dean explains the flow of the episode.

When Jeff arrives at school, he dons his first guise to get what he wants. He takes the faculty parking permit from someone else and puts it on his own car so that he may keep the close parking space that he wants. Inside, Pierce is presenting a facade to the group, making more of his relationship with Jeff (he likens him to a brother) than there is, to connect with the group more. Britta attempts to rebuke the idea that Jeff is important to the group: “Will you guys have some self respect, you are obsessing over someone who does not give you a second thought, meanwhile in Guatemala journalists are being killed by their own government…. Believe me, every day in that country, people are being killed for speaking out and the worst part of it is when it’s all over [Abed announces that spoilers follow] it’s gonna be as if it never even happened.” Britta tell shim that there are no such things as spoilers in real life and that TV is different from real life. Jeff enters like The Fonz from Happy Days and every one except Britta is happy to see him. He greets every one in a superficially friendly way and uses sympathy to get Spanish notes from Annie without doing any work. He sits back and asks “So what’s a guy gotta do to get a C around here?” Jeff’s goal is the middle of the road and a maintaining of the status quo.

Jeff offers an apology card featuring mixed metaphors to try to get Britta to forgive his first impression given in the last episode. She rebuffs him and rejects the card. Pierce tells him “You can’t pursue people so obsessively, it starts to creep them out.” Pierce then proceeds to do just that to Jeff, comedically showing himself to be a mirror for Jeff in this episode. Britta encounters her own mirror outside in Annie and Shirley. Annie says that Britta would “rather keep it real than be likable” and they both wish to follow suit. They ask for more information on the Guatemala situation that Britta told them to care about earlier. She somewhat grudgingly gives them a path to follow and casts derision on their chosen course of action once they leave.

We enter our first Spanish class. In this episode, Spanish is a metaphor for the language of friendship which the group is still learning how to use between one another. Chang presents their assignment to partner up in pairs to have conversations using phrases they learned in unit (episode) 1. The assignment is to maintain the status quo. Do not go further with one another than the superficial surface of first meetings. Jeff again dons a guise to get to Britta, by switching assignment cards with Abed. Abed will only switch if Jeff wears his shirt and lets Abed take away Jeff’s shirt. Jeff agrees, but his guise ultimately does not work because Britta has traded cards with Pierce for reasons unknown at this time.

Pierce and Jeff meet in the group’s normal study room. Pierce immediately opens up to Jeff saying that he has never had kids, and that it is only because he is super virile. He implies that whereas before he likened himself and Jeff to brothers, now he is longing for a son. Pierce is grasping for any connection with Jeff. When Jeff attempts to bring Pierce into the assignment and simply maintain the status quo by using 5 already learned phrases. Pierce erupts, asking “what am I, a piece of garbage to you?” by which Jeff is taken aback and denies the accusation with guarded empathy. Pierce acts as if he were joking and proceeds to try to connect with Jeff further.

Pierce wants to dig into the assignment by writing a story for the two of them as a team. He then says a better idea is to backtrack and discuss the origins of story itself. He is forcing a grand cosmology of story to take the place of the cosmetological simplicity of the assignment. Jeff resigns himself to such an exercise for now.

Meanwhile, Britta reencounters Annie and Shirley, actively doing something about the Guatemalan cause which Britta brought up earlier. Britta calls them “tacky and lame”, to which Annie replies that she sounds like Guatemala. Looking into her mirror, Britta realizes that she is hypocritical and that her status quo is not actually doing anything about the causes she espouses.

Jeff, looking into his mirror Pierce, reacts with frustration. Troy and Abed enter (Abed still wearing the guise he took from Jeff earlier). Troy and Abed perform their assignment, which is simply the 5 known statements from lesson 1. Jeff sees his usual self reflected in Abed’s clothes (which is Jeff’s shirt) and Abed’s status quo holding assignment. Jeff holds up the stack of yellow paper containing the cosmology of Pierce and himself and rejects it for the cosmetology of his old self, saying “we are going to take this and put it in a museum for crazy people” then ripping a page from the pre-defined text to use as his assignment.

Outside, Jeff once again dons a disguise to impress Britta by putting protest tape over his mouth and buying a sign off of another protestor. Having seen her own hypocrisy in her mirror, Britta extends an olive branch to Jeff, and he responds in his old pompous way (temporarily removing his guise to do so). Pierce comes out and completely destroys Jeff’s facade by blatantly stating truths about Jeff.

The day of the assignment, Jeff again presents Britta with an apology card full of mixed metaphors, but this time he seems a little more sincere because he is apologizing for Pierce (Jeff’s mirror). She takes the card, and everyone then proceeds to bad mouth Pierce (in turn bad mouthing Jeff). Britta finally spells out the truth: “He offered me a hundred dollars to switch cards with him just so he could be partners with Jeff. I think he thought getting closer to Jeff would bring him respect in the group. I think he spent his whole life looking out for himself and he would trade it all for a shot at some kind of family.” Jeff finally has his framework of lies torn down and he sees the mirror image he was supposed to see for what it is. Unlike Britta said to Abed earlier, real life does have spoilers, because Pierce is the spoiler for what Jeff will become if he maintains his status quo as he has been wanting to do all along. Chang offers Jeff a C in the class if he does nothing and watches Pierce act out their story alone. A C is what Jeff stated he wanted in the beginning, but now he cannot go through with it. He decides to do the assignment with Pierce.

Throughout the assignment, both Jeff and Pierce don many guises, but they are always the same or very similar guises, making each of them mirror images of one another, putting on a spectacle of themselves before the class. In the commentary for this episode, Dan Harmon states “if the audience isn’t just sitting there watching, then they’re participating, and we need them out there like just judging these guys because the triumph needs to be that Joel is willing to do something stupid, not something that uplifted anybody.” In the end, Jeff gets an F- and Pierce gets an F, remember if Jeff had done nothing he would have gotten his C. Britta calls what he did selfless, but that does not mean he mastered the language of friendship (Spanish), and Abed told us earlier that the spoiler for this episode was “when it’s all over it’s gonna be as if it never even happened.” Jeff will still use guises and facades in the future. Chang is not the best person to be judging the language of friendship. He does say he knows the language well, but then goes on to say that 90% of Spanish is hands and he uses his hands to stroke a student’s cheek inappropriately in that first screen cap.

Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x02: “Spanish 101”

"I am your dean with a few corrections to the fall class catalog. Cosmology should be cosmetology, astrology should be astronomy, and the students on the cover should be smiling, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion."

Modern cosmology is the study of the origins and fate of the universe. Not only how we got here, but also how everything got here, its progression, and what its ultimate demise will be. This big picture view is being completely replaced by the superficiality of looking good through donning facades (cosmetology). Astrology is a manufactured belief system placed on top of the stars and planets and other actual heavenly bodies. By turning astrology into astronomy, we are ripping the framework of lies off and studying only the actuality of what is there. This opening voice over by the dean explains the flow of the episode.

image

When Jeff arrives at school, he dons his first guise to get what he wants. He takes the faculty parking permit from someone else and puts it on his own car so that he may keep the close parking space that he wants. Inside, Pierce is presenting a facade to the group, making more of his relationship with Jeff (he likens him to a brother) than there is, to connect with the group more. Britta attempts to rebuke the idea that Jeff is important to the group: “Will you guys have some self respect, you are obsessing over someone who does not give you a second thought, meanwhile in Guatemala journalists are being killed by their own government…. Believe me, every day in that country, people are being killed for speaking out and the worst part of it is when it’s all over [Abed announces that spoilers follow] it’s gonna be as if it never even happened.” Britta tell shim that there are no such things as spoilers in real life and that TV is different from real life. Jeff enters like The Fonz from Happy Days and every one except Britta is happy to see him. He greets every one in a superficially friendly way and uses sympathy to get Spanish notes from Annie without doing any work. He sits back and asks “So what’s a guy gotta do to get a C around here?” Jeff’s goal is the middle of the road and a maintaining of the status quo.

image

Jeff offers an apology card featuring mixed metaphors to try to get Britta to forgive his first impression given in the last episode. She rebuffs him and rejects the card. Pierce tells him “You can’t pursue people so obsessively, it starts to creep them out.” Pierce then proceeds to do just that to Jeff, comedically showing himself to be a mirror for Jeff in this episode. Britta encounters her own mirror outside in Annie and Shirley. Annie says that Britta would “rather keep it real than be likable” and they both wish to follow suit. They ask for more information on the Guatemala situation that Britta told them to care about earlier. She somewhat grudgingly gives them a path to follow and casts derision on their chosen course of action once they leave.

image

We enter our first Spanish class. In this episode, Spanish is a metaphor for the language of friendship which the group is still learning how to use between one another. Chang presents their assignment to partner up in pairs to have conversations using phrases they learned in unit (episode) 1. The assignment is to maintain the status quo. Do not go further with one another than the superficial surface of first meetings. Jeff again dons a guise to get to Britta, by switching assignment cards with Abed. Abed will only switch if Jeff wears his shirt and lets Abed take away Jeff’s shirt. Jeff agrees, but his guise ultimately does not work because Britta has traded cards with Pierce for reasons unknown at this time.

image

Pierce and Jeff meet in the group’s normal study room. Pierce immediately opens up to Jeff saying that he has never had kids, and that it is only because he is super virile. He implies that whereas before he likened himself and Jeff to brothers, now he is longing for a son. Pierce is grasping for any connection with Jeff. When Jeff attempts to bring Pierce into the assignment and simply maintain the status quo by using 5 already learned phrases. Pierce erupts, asking “what am I, a piece of garbage to you?” by which Jeff is taken aback and denies the accusation with guarded empathy. Pierce acts as if he were joking and proceeds to try to connect with Jeff further.

image

Pierce wants to dig into the assignment by writing a story for the two of them as a team. He then says a better idea is to backtrack and discuss the origins of story itself. He is forcing a grand cosmology of story to take the place of the cosmetological simplicity of the assignment. Jeff resigns himself to such an exercise for now.

image

Meanwhile, Britta reencounters Annie and Shirley, actively doing something about the Guatemalan cause which Britta brought up earlier. Britta calls them “tacky and lame”, to which Annie replies that she sounds like Guatemala. Looking into her mirror, Britta realizes that she is hypocritical and that her status quo is not actually doing anything about the causes she espouses.

image

Jeff, looking into his mirror Pierce, reacts with frustration. Troy and Abed enter (Abed still wearing the guise he took from Jeff earlier). Troy and Abed perform their assignment, which is simply the 5 known statements from lesson 1. Jeff sees his usual self reflected in Abed’s clothes (which is Jeff’s shirt) and Abed’s status quo holding assignment. Jeff holds up the stack of yellow paper containing the cosmology of Pierce and himself and rejects it for the cosmetology of his old self, saying “we are going to take this and put it in a museum for crazy people” then ripping a page from the pre-defined text to use as his assignment.

image

Outside, Jeff once again dons a disguise to impress Britta by putting protest tape over his mouth and buying a sign off of another protestor. Having seen her own hypocrisy in her mirror, Britta extends an olive branch to Jeff, and he responds in his old pompous way (temporarily removing his guise to do so). Pierce comes out and completely destroys Jeff’s facade by blatantly stating truths about Jeff.

image

The day of the assignment, Jeff again presents Britta with an apology card full of mixed metaphors, but this time he seems a little more sincere because he is apologizing for Pierce (Jeff’s mirror). She takes the card, and everyone then proceeds to bad mouth Pierce (in turn bad mouthing Jeff). Britta finally spells out the truth: “He offered me a hundred dollars to switch cards with him just so he could be partners with Jeff. I think he thought getting closer to Jeff would bring him respect in the group. I think he spent his whole life looking out for himself and he would trade it all for a shot at some kind of family.” Jeff finally has his framework of lies torn down and he sees the mirror image he was supposed to see for what it is. Unlike Britta said to Abed earlier, real life does have spoilers, because Pierce is the spoiler for what Jeff will become if he maintains his status quo as he has been wanting to do all along. Chang offers Jeff a C in the class if he does nothing and watches Pierce act out their story alone. A C is what Jeff stated he wanted in the beginning, but now he cannot go through with it. He decides to do the assignment with Pierce.

image

Throughout the assignment, both Jeff and Pierce don many guises, but they are always the same or very similar guises, making each of them mirror images of one another, putting on a spectacle of themselves before the class. In the commentary for this episode, Dan Harmon states “if the audience isn’t just sitting there watching, then they’re participating, and we need them out there like just judging these guys because the triumph needs to be that Joel is willing to do something stupid, not something that uplifted anybody.” In the end, Jeff gets an F- and Pierce gets an F, remember if Jeff had done nothing he would have gotten his C. Britta calls what he did selfless, but that does not mean he mastered the language of friendship (Spanish), and Abed told us earlier that the spoiler for this episode was “when it’s all over it’s gonna be as if it never even happened.” Jeff will still use guises and facades in the future. Chang is not the best person to be judging the language of friendship. He does say he knows the language well, but then goes on to say that 90% of Spanish is hands and he uses his hands to stroke a student’s cheek inappropriately in that first screen cap.

image

Episode 1 Analysis

Episode 2 Analysis

Episode 3 Analysis

Episode 4 Analysis

Episode 5 Analysis

Episode 6 Analysis

Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x01: “Pilot”



"What is community college? Well, you’ve heard it’s all kinds of things. You’ve heard it’s loser college for remedial teens, 20 something dropouts, middle aged divorcees, and old people keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity. That’s what you heard, however, I wish you luck!."



The dean has just stereotyped many of the supporting characters into roles, and it turns out he is missing the full deck of cards to tell them how things will be different from these preconceived notions of self.

Jeff has not yet been cast in a type, but as soon as we meet him, we find that he is looking for ways to use people, and that is what we are doing too. How can we utilize him and all of these characters we are meeting for the first time, as mirrors for ourselves or models of antithesis? In his first three interactions, Jeff wants to use Abed to get to Britta, use Britta to get sex, and use his old acquaintance to cheat his way through the community college by being handed all of the answers. He is lead to believe that he might get them.

Soon, the study group meets for the first time, and Abed gives us our first Breakfast Club reference. The assigned thesis of the Breakfast Club’s essay was “who you think you are,” which is also our assignment here as engaged viewers. Which of these character stereotypes introduced in the beginning are we going to latch onto?Jeff quickly distances himself from the group and rejoins his old acquaintance Duncan, who is a connection to his old life as a lawyer, when he was able to use his silver tongue to cheat the system. He still hopes that he can get all of the answers from this link to his past, but the only answer Duncan gives is a question of whether or not Jeff knows the difference between right and wrong. Jeff responds: “I discovered at a very early age that if I talk long enough, I could make anything right or wrong, so either I’m God, or truth is relative, but in either case: booyah.”

Jeff returns to encounter the rest of the study group, and Abed gives a second Breakfast Club reference. Jeff uses everyone and plays them off one another to throw the group into turmoil in hopes of extracting himself from the group once again. Abed delivers Bender’s speech from The Breakfast Club and stops the fight momentarily. The only person his reference elicits a response from is Jeff, everyone else becomes a silent observer. Jeff retreats again to finally retrieve all of the answers from his old acquaintance. When he returns, he must once again use everyone to attempt to get what he wants from Britta. He makes his first speech:



“We’re the only species on Earth that observes Shark Week. Sharks don’t even observe Shark Week, but we do, for the same reason I can pick up this pencil, tell you it’s name is Steve and go like this, and part of you dies just a little bit on the inside, because people can connect with anything. We can sympathize with a pencil, we can forgive a shark, and we can give Ben Affleck an Academy Award for screenwriting. People can find the good in just about anything but themselves.”




He goes on to recast everyone in the group in a new type. In the commentary, the creators explain this scene as follows: “He’s bringing them together [but] the character doesn’t mean it, but then again he’s not lying ‘cus the whole point of this character is supposed to be… the character doesn’t hate anybody, he doesn’t think that anybody’s a bad person, he’s too self-involved to care enough to judge anybody.”

In his speech, regarding Abed, Jeff states: “Abed’s a shaman. You ask him to pass the salt, he gives you a bowl of soup, because you know what? Soup is better.” The only person Abed connected with earlier during his film reference was Jeff, and we can see Bender (to whom the speech belongs in the film) as Jeff and perhaps the related story as symbolic of Jeff’s motivation. Jeff did confess earlier to the lunch lady: “I’m sorry. I was raised on TV, and I was conditioned to believe that every black woman over 50 is a cosmic mentor.” Though Abed does not change Jeff’s behavior with his references, he is attempting to reach him. To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, the job of the shaman is to determine what is wrong in the community, travel to the appropriate higher realm, commune with the spirits, and set it right quickly. The higher realm here is the collective unconscious of popular culture, and that is what the entire episode has been working in to set you at ease and help you connect better with the characters. When Abed shouted his reference, it was not at the group because they were not broken, but rather at Jeff who was breaking the group.

After the group is repaired by Jeff’s speech and Jeff is revealed to be a fake, he storms out with all the answers and Abed begins spouting a wider variety of pop culture references after him. Outside, Jeff tears open all the answers and rifles through a lot of nothing before coming to a single page bearing the word booyah. This recolors his speech before about his ability to manipulate truth and being God, which he ended with a “booyah.” His self addressing speech was a lot of nothing. This also hearkens back to the dean not having the cards to tell anyone how to overcome their perceived categorization in the community. Jeff has ultimately gotten no answers from his old way of life. The group comes out to find Jeff without all of the answers, and they begin to project themselves onto him and pull him back into their group.

In the opening of The Breakfast Club, the letter in response to “who you think you are” lists off the stereotype assigned to each of the members of the club and declares that they feel that they are brainwashed. However, at the end of the film the letter in response to the assignment has changed to reflect the fact that they all share commonalities. In the same way, the dean’s list of stereotypes in the beginning is eclipsed by our having found something relatable in each of the characters who form the study group by the end of the episode.
Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x01: “Pilot”

"What is community college? Well, you’ve heard it’s all kinds of things. You’ve heard it’s loser college for remedial teens, 20 something dropouts, middle aged divorcees, and old people keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity. That’s what you heard, however, I wish you luck!."


The dean has just stereotyped many of the supporting characters into roles, and it turns out he is missing the full deck of cards to tell them how things will be different from these preconceived notions of self.

image

Jeff has not yet been cast in a type, but as soon as we meet him, we find that he is looking for ways to use people, and that is what we are doing too. How can we utilize him and all of these characters we are meeting for the first time, as mirrors for ourselves or models of antithesis? In his first three interactions, Jeff wants to use Abed to get to Britta, use Britta to get sex, and use his old acquaintance to cheat his way through the community college by being handed all of the answers. He is lead to believe that he might get them.

image

Soon, the study group meets for the first time, and Abed gives us our first Breakfast Club reference. The assigned thesis of the Breakfast Club’s essay was “who you think you are,” which is also our assignment here as engaged viewers. Which of these character stereotypes introduced in the beginning are we going to latch onto?

Jeff quickly distances himself from the group and rejoins his old acquaintance Duncan, who is a connection to his old life as a lawyer, when he was able to use his silver tongue to cheat the system. He still hopes that he can get all of the answers from this link to his past, but the only answer Duncan gives is a question of whether or not Jeff knows the difference between right and wrong. Jeff responds: “I discovered at a very early age that if I talk long enough, I could make anything right or wrong, so either I’m God, or truth is relative, but in either case: booyah.”

image

Jeff returns to encounter the rest of the study group, and Abed gives a second Breakfast Club reference. Jeff uses everyone and plays them off one another to throw the group into turmoil in hopes of extracting himself from the group once again. Abed delivers Bender’s speech from The Breakfast Club and stops the fight momentarily. The only person his reference elicits a response from is Jeff, everyone else becomes a silent observer. Jeff retreats again to finally retrieve all of the answers from his old acquaintance. When he returns, he must once again use everyone to attempt to get what he wants from Britta. He makes his first speech:

“We’re the only species on Earth that observes Shark Week. Sharks don’t even observe Shark Week, but we do, for the same reason I can pick up this pencil, tell you it’s name is Steve and go like this, and part of you dies just a little bit on the inside, because people can connect with anything. We can sympathize with a pencil, we can forgive a shark, and we can give Ben Affleck an Academy Award for screenwriting. People can find the good in just about anything but themselves.”

image

He goes on to recast everyone in the group in a new type. In the commentary, the creators explain this scene as follows: “He’s bringing them together [but] the character doesn’t mean it, but then again he’s not lying ‘cus the whole point of this character is supposed to be… the character doesn’t hate anybody, he doesn’t think that anybody’s a bad person, he’s too self-involved to care enough to judge anybody.”

image

In his speech, regarding Abed, Jeff states: “Abed’s a shaman. You ask him to pass the salt, he gives you a bowl of soup, because you know what? Soup is better.” The only person Abed connected with earlier during his film reference was Jeff, and we can see Bender (to whom the speech belongs in the film) as Jeff and perhaps the related story as symbolic of Jeff’s motivation. Jeff did confess earlier to the lunch lady: “I’m sorry. I was raised on TV, and I was conditioned to believe that every black woman over 50 is a cosmic mentor.” Though Abed does not change Jeff’s behavior with his references, he is attempting to reach him. To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, the job of the shaman is to determine what is wrong in the community, travel to the appropriate higher realm, commune with the spirits, and set it right quickly. The higher realm here is the collective unconscious of popular culture, and that is what the entire episode has been working in to set you at ease and help you connect better with the characters. When Abed shouted his reference, it was not at the group because they were not broken, but rather at Jeff who was breaking the group.

image

After the group is repaired by Jeff’s speech and Jeff is revealed to be a fake, he storms out with all the answers and Abed begins spouting a wider variety of pop culture references after him. Outside, Jeff tears open all the answers and rifles through a lot of nothing before coming to a single page bearing the word booyah. This recolors his speech before about his ability to manipulate truth and being God, which he ended with a “booyah.” His self addressing speech was a lot of nothing. This also hearkens back to the dean not having the cards to tell anyone how to overcome their perceived categorization in the community. Jeff has ultimately gotten no answers from his old way of life. The group comes out to find Jeff without all of the answers, and they begin to project themselves onto him and pull him back into their group.

image

In the opening of The Breakfast Club, the letter in response to “who you think you are” lists off the stereotype assigned to each of the members of the club and declares that they feel that they are brainwashed. However, at the end of the film the letter in response to the assignment has changed to reflect the fact that they all share commonalities. In the same way, the dean’s list of stereotypes in the beginning is eclipsed by our having found something relatable in each of the characters who form the study group by the end of the episode.

Episode 1 Analysis

Episode 2 Analysis

Episode 3 Analysis

Episode 4 Analysis

Episode 5 Analysis

Episode 6 Analysis

Episode 7 Analysis

raptoravatar:

screwrocknroll:

Forget it Abed, it’s Cougartown. (Thanks to Doc Zeus.)

“Chad had lived…”

Another show becomes a Subway commercial? Maybe they will have a crossover with Chuck at a Subway, discussing pricing and vegetable and sauce choices.

I plan to retry Cougartown at some point. The first 3 episodes did nothing for me, but I have read that it gets better.