I can build up a person by borrowing one feature from one person and one from another, or by giving to the form of one the name of another in my dream. I can also visualize one person, but place him in a position which has occurred to another. There is a meaning in all these cases when different persons are amalgamated into one substitute. Such cases denote an “and,” a “just like,” a comparison of the original person from a certain point of view, a comparison which can be also realized in the dream itself. As a rule, however, the identity of the blended persons is only discoverable by analysis, and is only indicated in the dream content by the formation of the “combined” person.

- On Dreams by Sigmund Freud

&

riseofthecommonwoodpile:

tramampoline:

coolabedfilms:

HOLY SHIT???????????

WELL THEN

WHAT?????

riseofthecommonwoodpile:

tramampoline:

coolabedfilms:

HOLY SHIT???????????

WELL THEN

WHAT?????

(via the90swerentreal)

Community 4x01: “History 101”
Troy and Abed enter with a modified catchphrase, and they are greeted by a laugh track. The laugh track continues to regurgitate over every other word that is said as the rest of the group enters, wearing the same hipster glasses as Troy. Jeff is the only one not wearing the glasses besides Abed. Pierce enters, played by Fred Willard instead of Chevy Chase; he is wearing the same glasses as everyone else, not because they are cool, but because they are his old backup pair. We hear Britta’s voice over the incessant laugh track and a Big Bang Theory-like transition pulls us out of Abed’s head and into a laugh track free environment. This episode is the first episode without Dan Harmon. The show had quite a public dysfunction last season, and this opening voices what many fans may have feared: that the show may be infused with popular sitcom trappings and become indistinguishable from the wasteland of broadcast television sitcoms, and Chevy would be replaced or removed for being part of the public dysfunction. The audience will hopefully breathe a sigh of relief when it is revealed that the scene was all manufactured in Abed’s head and everyone is pulled back into the reality that has come to be expected of the show. This episode uses the film Inception as its framework. In that film, people travel through multilayered dreams within dreams to plant the seed of an idea into the mark’s mind, so that when the dreams are all ended, the idea germinates and the mark feels that they have conceived of the idea on their own without any outside influence. A popular reading of the film is that each person is a personification of a particular role in the filmmaking process, and that the film itself is a commentary on how films work on the viewer. The ending is somewhat ambiguous so that the viewer may read into it what they will, and feel like they have come up with the meaning themselves from whichever clues they decide to use from the rest of the film. This episode of Community casts its characters in the roles of the Television production process. The idea that the viewer is being incepted with is that the show is still the show they love even though Harmon is gone and it may grow outside of the school. The title of this episode is History 101, and as with previous seasons, the first episode introduces the concept the episodes will be exploring for the rest of the semester. Here we will study the viewer’s personal history with the show and adherence to traditions.

In the real world, we learn that Britta (still wearing the hipster glasses from the laugh track world) has used her amateur psychology to instruct Abed that whenever he feels stressed, he should retreat into a happy place that he has constructed inside his head. She gave him the instruction to start with a babbling brook, and Abed says “I started out with a babbling brook, but then I layered in elements from our world. I’m sure fans of the babbling brook will complain, but I felt it was limiting.” The babbling brook is the typical laugh-track-a-second sitcom, into which Abed layered in elements from what he calls the real world. The real world is the show we are used to and the elements layered in are the characters therein. Britta asks Abed if he is ready for the “last first day of school” we see that this is the stress trigger that prompts Abed to retreat into his fantasy world. This is our stress trigger as well: the fear that the show will be canceled now that Harmon is gone and it may be homogenizing into bland background noise. Abed retreats into his head and we see the opening credits with new lyrics sung by Abed. The new lyrics open with “this is my show, it’s about me, and all my friends”, describing the personal connection a devoted viewer has with the characters of any show with which they connect. Fred Willard is listed as Pierce in these credits, and we see Chang here even though he does not appear anywhere else in the laugh track world.

In the real world, we find the study group reuniting (now including Chevy as Pierce), excited to begin a class called The History of Ice Cream. Annie says that she is going to do senioritis which she defines as “hangin’ out, blowin’ off classes, pullin’ pranks, not sayin’ my G’s.” Shirley lights up at this idea, and says that she will pull some pranks with Annie. Annie nonchalantly says she would rather pull them with Jeff, but will do so with whomever. Troy confirms his date with Abed to make wishes in the fountain, as is their first of the year tradition. Pierce tells them that “wishes aren’t real. If you want something bad, you have to work for it or use a spell.” The group sees a long line outside the ice cream class, as Jeff sticks his head outside the classroom to beckon them forward. We see world bleed as Jeff is wearing the hipster glasses from the laugh track world. He notices Britta is wearing the glasses too, and he takes his off, shoving them at Neil. We learn that Jeff showed up to the ice cream class early to save the rest of the group seats. Britta and Annie comment on Jeff’s behavior, calling him “a whole new Jeff Winger.” As the group sits down, Leonard complains that he has been “pissing in jars for an hour trying to keep this seat” while the group got in right away because of Jeff’s antics. During commentaries for season 1, we learned that Leonard’s original purpose was to act as an embodiment for the heard but not seen studio audience reactions in classic sitcoms. Leonard here is the audience, angry that a new production team waltzes into the show to pick up the history with a simplified view towards pleasing everyone, and turning the show into ice cream, while he has put in so much work with the last three seasons of the show. (The pissing in jars is a reference to DiCaprio’s character in the Aviator which will also come up later). The group yells at Leonard to stifle his cries and the dean comes in to quiet everyone down. The dean announces that the admission slips to the ice cream class have been counterfeited and the student pool has been flooded, negating the old way of accepting people into the ice cream class.

The dean leads everyone to the gym where he has set up an obstacle course which he calls The Hunger Deans. He expects the students to perform antics and jump through hoops in the post apocalyptic wasteland of sitcom television so that they may make it into the easy history class. Upon seeing the obstacle course, Shirley says “Oh, Lord, no.” and the rest of the group shares her sentiment as they reject the idea of competing in favor of taking history class next semester. Jeff reveals that ice cream is the only history class offered this semester and that it is the last class he needs to graduate. Jeff had hidden from the group that he took classes all summer and history is all he needs to graduate one semester early. The group feels betrayed that Jeff planned to leave them early, and Annie calls him selfish. Jeff is the spirit of the show here, fluctuating between old and new Jeff/old and new showrunner. Harmon is leaving early, and the restrictions placed on him by the producers (embodied by the dean) are turning him into a different Jeff, a new showrunner. The group represents different aspects of the writers, viewers, and the show itself, and they all feel betrayed and uncertain about their future after learning the truth about Jeff. Jeff says that he has been working on a speech to tie everything together and give closure to what he was planning. He offers a little bit of the speech, but not all of it. One of the show’s rules has been that Jeff will deliver a speech to tell us the lesson of the episode at the end. Abed tells Troy to fulfill the wish tradition without him so that he may stay in the gym to watch Jeff. As Annie leaves, she says “see you around, old Jeff.”, and Jeff protests that he is new Jeff and will win 7 red balls to enter the ice cream class because he is “not going to take that class unless you guys are with me.” As everyone has turned away, Jeff delivers part of his planned speech: “we’re gonna have to leave this place sometime. Like an ice cream cone melting in the sun, our time here can’t last forever.” This triggers Abed’s anxiety which pushes him back into the laugh track world.

Inside Abed’s head, we see the group reading generic pamphlets labeled JOBS as Jeff tells Abed they are making plans for the future because they “can’t stay at Greendale forever.” Now we have world bleed in the other direction, as Jeff’s words from the gym have corrupted Abed’s happy place. The dean comes in dressed as Leonardo DiCaprio from The Aviator and announces: “just as his character lost his mind, so have I lost your student records.” Shirley comments on how Amelia Earhart would have been a more straightforward demonstration of the dean’s news. The dean mentions DiCaprio, however, to ground us further in the referencing of Inception. The dean says that the group will have to repeat the last 3 years and Troy says dejectedly “we’re gonna be here forever.” This idea echoes in Abed’s head, making him happy, as we are pulled back to the real world.

In the gym, the dean starts the competition and Jeff tells Leonard to give up his pursuit of the first red ball. He assaults Leonard and climbs over him to capture the ball. Chevy sits with an unresponsive Abed, struggling to come up with a joke about Jeff acquiring balls. Jeff brings him the first ball, and we are pushed back into Abed’s head. In the laugh track world, Annie says that she would like to begin a major in forensics if she must start over. Troy mentions that you can major in antics, and Abed spouts off a lot of information about  it as if he has researched it seriously. Jeff protests the idea that they have to start over as freshmen, but a group of girls comes in and invites the study group to a freshman mixer and Jeff accepts the role of freshman to chase after the girls. This is the opposite of new Jeff who sent girls away in order to take the final history class needed in the real world. Abed smiles and shakes his head seemingly thinking “classic Jeff” as we are pulled into the real world.

Annie and Shirley are breaking into the dean’s office to pull their senior prank. Annie keeps thinking small, and Shirley has to prod her to think bigger and actually pull off a prank. Annie gets excited about Shirley’s ideas and decides to move everything around the stapler, calling it a prank on a prank and mentions that “there are so many levels to this” —again referencing Inception. Shirley comes up with the idea of filling the dean’s car with popcorn instead. Annie misunderstands the reasoning at first, but grows to accept it. Annie begins to pretend she is the dean to figure out where his keys are. She does an impression of him and has the insight that the character wears heels, so the keys would be in a higher drawer than she first thought. Annie is the old writer, having been left by Jeff, the old show runner, she is treading water and coming up with trite ideas, but Shirley is a new writing partner who can use Annie’s expertise about the characters to prod her into new directions and come up with their own show to create a new history. Jeff comes in to show Annie that he has acquired a red ball for her. Shirley asks if that is blood on Jeff’s shirt, and he says that it is cool because the blood is Leonard’s.

Britta goes to the fountain with Troy to make wishes using the jar of pennies. Troy says that he and Abed always make the first wish together, so they each grab a penny and throw it into the fountain. Britta wishes for a great school year, while Troy wishes for a thousand wishes. He tells Britta that she is not following the rules, because the first wish is always a thousand wishes. Britta acquiesces as Troy wishes that she have half of his remaining wishes. With her next wish, Britta wishes to end all wars, which breaks Abed’s rule about wishes containing the word all because they yield guaranteed ironic consequences. Britta gets into the fountain to take the penny and the wish back, but Troy tells her that this is also against the rules of how the fountain works and that the pennies are not the wishes. They get into a fight and end up spilling the remaining pennies and breaking the jar. Troy is an old fan of the show and Britta is a new fan of the show. In Inception, a character would use a totem to test whether or not the possessor was in their own dream or someone else’s. The show is our dream and our totem as the viewer, and it must conform to the rules we have defined for it or else it is not our show, but someone else’s. Britta is accepting of anything at first, but Troy’s insistence on following the rules to maintain the old status quo is draining all of her pleasure.

Annie and Shirley have lined the inside of the dean’s car with tin foil and are filling it with popcorn which they will pop with magnifying glasses. Annie is complaining to Shirley about Jeff leaving early and what will become of everyone else. She is running future scenarios of everyone outside of school, seeing no fun in any of it. She calls the imagined future a “sad, slow march towards death.” Shirley tries to make her see the bright side, but Annie ignores her. Harmon has said in the past that the Community of the title is not the college, but the study group and that the show could extend outside of the school easily, as long as the group is together. The viewer is also part of that Community. Annie cannot see any of this, however, she only sees that the old, comfortable formula she was writing in is disappearing. 

Jeff is still competing for and winning red balls. He wins each one, bringing his total to 5. The sixth competition is revealed to be a tango contest, which the dean says “requires complete emotional commitment.” Jeff surprises everyone by saying he chooses the dean as his partner. The dean gasps and whispers “the fountain works.” They begin to dance as Chevy still struggles for a joke about balls and we are sucked inside Abed’s head. The freshman mixer from the previous laugh track scene has turned into a food fight. Abed looks happy amidst the chaos, but Annie comes in and says that after only one forensics class she has found a way to retrieve the missing student records. She holds up a giant red ball safe and says that all their student records are backed up inside.

The dean made an undisclosed wish in the fountain, but we know that it was answered when he requested complete emotional commitment from the dancers and Jeff chose the dean to be his partner. Jeff accuses the dean of not wanting him to graduate, and the dean says “I want success for all Greendale students.” The wish seems to have the ironic consequences involving “all” which Troy warned about earlier, because Jeff has identified with the dean enough to know that he is the only one who could have counterfeited the admission slips for the ice cream class. The dean finally admits that he did erase the second history class, and he had hoped Jeff would walk away from the challenges like the rest of the group. If the wish of the producers is that the show will find success with all Greendale viewers so that it may make money, the consequence of this happening is that the viewer will begin to become emotionally invested in the characters and will recognize when the showrunner’s voice behind them changes and that old history between character and viewer is negated. Jeff delivers the sixth ball to Abed and Pierce, and we are pulled into Abed’s head again.

Annie is getting close to cracking the red ball safe, but Abed grabs it from her and holds it close, saying that he does not want her to open it, but that he wishes to stay in the laugh track world forever. Britta coaxes the safe from him, handing it back to Annie as she tells him about going to his happy place. We are now going another layer deeper. In the film Inception, the mark would construct a safe where the idea they most wanted to guard was kept, and the team of extractors would have to crack the safe to find the information they needed. For Fischer, they planted the notion of the safe and then planted the idea with which they wanted to incept him inside the safe. Fischer then journeyed with the team to open the safe, believing what was inside was true. Here, the idea of the red balls being what will release the group from the confines of the school has been planted in Abed’s mind, and he has turned it into a safe which houses the realization about the group which he does not want to face. His subconscious is breaking that idea outward though, thanks to the rules of his totem. The idea of the importance of the red balls and the red safe has also been implanted in the viewer’s mind, and whatever comes out of the safe will be considered more important. However, the safe has not been cracked yet, so Abed retreats further away from it before it can be opened.

In the third world, we see the group as a parody of the Muppet Babies cartoon series. The idea the viewer is being incepted with first was that though the show may be different, at least it has the characters you know and love and not some typical sitcom laugh track fodder. This new idea is that it could be even worse than laugh track fodder though and be an inane cartoon abstraction of all the beloved characters from the original show. In the real world, Pierce finally finds his joke about the balls, but it is weak and anti-climactic. Britta reveals to the rest of the group that she told Abed to go to his happy place in his mind, and the group deliberates about what to do as Jeff pulls himself away to win the last red ball. Troy has everyone else join hands, as he tries to bring them into Abed’s head. Troy says that it is not working though, and no progress is made into waking Abed up from his fantasies. In Inception, a person outside of the dream would deliver what was called “the kick” to the dreamer, as a signal that it was time for them to wake up. This kick could cause the world they were in to crumble, and as seen in the final action sequence, a sequence of kicks can pull the dreamer from one dream to another all the way up until they are back in the real world.

In the cartoon world, baby Jeff announces that he has something to say and the rest of the group cheers “Yay, like always!” As mentioned before, one of the rules of the show is that Jeff delivers a wrap up speech at the end, to tell us the lesson we were supposed to have learned during the episode. This speech serves as Abed’s kick, and the opening of his safe. As cartoon Jeff unlocks the realization Abed had been storing in the safe, Abed is brought out of the cartoon world, back to the laugh track world, where Jeff continues the speech. Jeff’s speech elaborates on the idea that the Community of the title is not the type of college the group is attending, but the group itself and our relationship with the group. Throughout our experiences in the laugh track world, fake show banners have been appearing in the lower third, advertising spin off series featuring the characters from the group in various roles. These were all created by Abed as viable alternatives to experiencing the group. They are a litmus test for the viewer as well: were they funny? would you have liked to see one of those shows? if so, was it because it still had the characters you know and love, not just the actors?

In the real world, Abed tells Jeff that he delivered a killer speech. Jeff dismisses the praise, saying that he “literally just walked up”, and Abed says “I know, I made the speech for you. It hit all the right notes.” Abed then delivers the real wrap up speech. He states that he was afraid of letting go of the status quo of the show in the school because he was so afraid of the future, but then he realized “all of this was once the future, and it was completely different from what I’d known before… but in the end —or in the now, I guess— it turned out great.” Jeff tries to deliver his speech that he mentioned earlier about ice cream, but Abed cuts him off. In the end of Inception, Cobb spins the top which many see as his totem. He watches it for a second to see if it conforms to his rules or not, but whether or not it falls (or even if it is or is not his totem) is an unimportant question, because ultimately he ignores it and walks away, accepting the world he is currently in. Abed has rejected one of the rules of the show by ignoring Jeff’s wrap up and has accepted the current reality of the show. However, whether or not the viewer can ignore the changes and will accept this new reality is unknown. Leonard absconds with all of the balls while the group was listening to Abed, so they have all lost their chance to be in the ice cream class. Annie talks about what she will take instead of history, suggesting advanced claims denial, but Abed suggests that she take forensics, as she had wanted to in the laugh track world. If Annie is an old writer, Abed is saying that she should delve into the past and see how it works and how its current state can be deciphered, offering her an alternative road to history. Abed is also building the current world to make people happier. Just as in Inception, there is no real world aside from that of the viewer who is watching the show. Many viewers will decry a piece of entertainment in which everything turns out to be a dream, because “what is the point?”, but none of this scripted fiction is real anyway, so the posited question can be applied to any episode of the show past, present, or future.

The dean greets Jeff outside of his condo, and reveals that he has reinstated the original history class for the group to take. This history class will require more work from the group, because, as Abed implied, the group’s present will one day be a new history for the viewer. The producer dean has given the show a season in which to make their own new history. The dean reveals that he is also now living next door to Jeff.

In the final scene before the credits, we hear what sounds like rushing water, and a drenched, naked Chang approaching a postman with a note that says his name is Kevin and he has Changnesia. The sound of waves and the wet presentation of Chang are both indicators found in Inception that someone has washed up on the shore of limbo, a shared space of raw subconscious which anyone can change and build within. It is the lowest level of the dream rungs. On one level, this is implying what was stated before: that there was never a real world. On another level, this is stating that in its relationship to the viewer, the show is still in a state of limbo. Will the changes the new people have made to the world everyone shares be accepted by the viewer or rejected? Will the show retain and/or grow its viewer base?

The final tag returns us to the laugh track world, and shows Troy and Abed dressed in drag to obtain entrance to the antics class. After they are accepted, Britta is refused entrance by the dean, and Shirley sticks her head out to say the same thing she said earlier in the real world, now with the inflection of a catch phrase “Oh lord, no.” This is another clue that the real world was never a real world.

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

Community 4x01: “History 101”


Troy and Abed enter with a modified catchphrase, and they are greeted by a laugh track. The laugh track continues to regurgitate over every other word that is said as the rest of the group enters, wearing the same hipster glasses as Troy. Jeff is the only one not wearing the glasses besides Abed. Pierce enters, played by Fred Willard instead of Chevy Chase; he is wearing the same glasses as everyone else, not because they are cool, but because they are his old backup pair. We hear Britta’s voice over the incessant laugh track and a Big Bang Theory-like transition pulls us out of Abed’s head and into a laugh track free environment. This episode is the first episode without Dan Harmon. The show had quite a public dysfunction last season, and this opening voices what many fans may have feared: that the show may be infused with popular sitcom trappings and become indistinguishable from the wasteland of broadcast television sitcoms, and Chevy would be replaced or removed for being part of the public dysfunction. The audience will hopefully breathe a sigh of relief when it is revealed that the scene was all manufactured in Abed’s head and everyone is pulled back into the reality that has come to be expected of the show. This episode uses the film Inception as its framework. In that film, people travel through multilayered dreams within dreams to plant the seed of an idea into the mark’s mind, so that when the dreams are all ended, the idea germinates and the mark feels that they have conceived of the idea on their own without any outside influence. A popular reading of the film is that each person is a personification of a particular role in the filmmaking process, and that the film itself is a commentary on how films work on the viewer. The ending is somewhat ambiguous so that the viewer may read into it what they will, and feel like they have come up with the meaning themselves from whichever clues they decide to use from the rest of the film. This episode of Community casts its characters in the roles of the Television production process. The idea that the viewer is being incepted with is that the show is still the show they love even though Harmon is gone and it may grow outside of the school. The title of this episode is History 101, and as with previous seasons, the first episode introduces the concept the episodes will be exploring for the rest of the semester. Here we will study the viewer’s personal history with the show and adherence to traditions.

In the real world, we learn that Britta (still wearing the hipster glasses from the laugh track world) has used her amateur psychology to instruct Abed that whenever he feels stressed, he should retreat into a happy place that he has constructed inside his head. She gave him the instruction to start with a babbling brook, and Abed says “I started out with a babbling brook, but then I layered in elements from our world. I’m sure fans of the babbling brook will complain, but I felt it was limiting.” The babbling brook is the typical laugh-track-a-second sitcom, into which Abed layered in elements from what he calls the real world. The real world is the show we are used to and the elements layered in are the characters therein. Britta asks Abed if he is ready for the “last first day of school” we see that this is the stress trigger that prompts Abed to retreat into his fantasy world. This is our stress trigger as well: the fear that the show will be canceled now that Harmon is gone and it may be homogenizing into bland background noise. Abed retreats into his head and we see the opening credits with new lyrics sung by Abed. The new lyrics open with “this is my show, it’s about me, and all my friends”, describing the personal connection a devoted viewer has with the characters of any show with which they connect. Fred Willard is listed as Pierce in these credits, and we see Chang here even though he does not appear anywhere else in the laugh track world.

In the real world, we find the study group reuniting (now including Chevy as Pierce), excited to begin a class called The History of Ice Cream. Annie says that she is going to do senioritis which she defines as “hangin’ out, blowin’ off classes, pullin’ pranks, not sayin’ my G’s.” Shirley lights up at this idea, and says that she will pull some pranks with Annie. Annie nonchalantly says she would rather pull them with Jeff, but will do so with whomever. Troy confirms his date with Abed to make wishes in the fountain, as is their first of the year tradition. Pierce tells them that “wishes aren’t real. If you want something bad, you have to work for it or use a spell.” The group sees a long line outside the ice cream class, as Jeff sticks his head outside the classroom to beckon them forward. We see world bleed as Jeff is wearing the hipster glasses from the laugh track world. He notices Britta is wearing the glasses too, and he takes his off, shoving them at Neil. We learn that Jeff showed up to the ice cream class early to save the rest of the group seats. Britta and Annie comment on Jeff’s behavior, calling him “a whole new Jeff Winger.” As the group sits down, Leonard complains that he has been “pissing in jars for an hour trying to keep this seat” while the group got in right away because of Jeff’s antics. During commentaries for season 1, we learned that Leonard’s original purpose was to act as an embodiment for the heard but not seen studio audience reactions in classic sitcoms. Leonard here is the audience, angry that a new production team waltzes into the show to pick up the history with a simplified view towards pleasing everyone, and turning the show into ice cream, while he has put in so much work with the last three seasons of the show. (The pissing in jars is a reference to DiCaprio’s character in the Aviator which will also come up later). The group yells at Leonard to stifle his cries and the dean comes in to quiet everyone down. The dean announces that the admission slips to the ice cream class have been counterfeited and the student pool has been flooded, negating the old way of accepting people into the ice cream class.

The dean leads everyone to the gym where he has set up an obstacle course which he calls The Hunger Deans. He expects the students to perform antics and jump through hoops in the post apocalyptic wasteland of sitcom television so that they may make it into the easy history class. Upon seeing the obstacle course, Shirley says “Oh, Lord, no.” and the rest of the group shares her sentiment as they reject the idea of competing in favor of taking history class next semester. Jeff reveals that ice cream is the only history class offered this semester and that it is the last class he needs to graduate. Jeff had hidden from the group that he took classes all summer and history is all he needs to graduate one semester early. The group feels betrayed that Jeff planned to leave them early, and Annie calls him selfish. Jeff is the spirit of the show here, fluctuating between old and new Jeff/old and new showrunner. Harmon is leaving early, and the restrictions placed on him by the producers (embodied by the dean) are turning him into a different Jeff, a new showrunner. The group represents different aspects of the writers, viewers, and the show itself, and they all feel betrayed and uncertain about their future after learning the truth about Jeff. Jeff says that he has been working on a speech to tie everything together and give closure to what he was planning. He offers a little bit of the speech, but not all of it. One of the show’s rules has been that Jeff will deliver a speech to tell us the lesson of the episode at the end. Abed tells Troy to fulfill the wish tradition without him so that he may stay in the gym to watch Jeff. As Annie leaves, she says “see you around, old Jeff.”, and Jeff protests that he is new Jeff and will win 7 red balls to enter the ice cream class because he is “not going to take that class unless you guys are with me.” As everyone has turned away, Jeff delivers part of his planned speech: “we’re gonna have to leave this place sometime. Like an ice cream cone melting in the sun, our time here can’t last forever.” This triggers Abed’s anxiety which pushes him back into the laugh track world.

Inside Abed’s head, we see the group reading generic pamphlets labeled JOBS as Jeff tells Abed they are making plans for the future because they “can’t stay at Greendale forever.” Now we have world bleed in the other direction, as Jeff’s words from the gym have corrupted Abed’s happy place. The dean comes in dressed as Leonardo DiCaprio from The Aviator and announces: “just as his character lost his mind, so have I lost your student records.” Shirley comments on how Amelia Earhart would have been a more straightforward demonstration of the dean’s news. The dean mentions DiCaprio, however, to ground us further in the referencing of Inception. The dean says that the group will have to repeat the last 3 years and Troy says dejectedly “we’re gonna be here forever.” This idea echoes in Abed’s head, making him happy, as we are pulled back to the real world.

In the gym, the dean starts the competition and Jeff tells Leonard to give up his pursuit of the first red ball. He assaults Leonard and climbs over him to capture the ball. Chevy sits with an unresponsive Abed, struggling to come up with a joke about Jeff acquiring balls. Jeff brings him the first ball, and we are pushed back into Abed’s head. In the laugh track world, Annie says that she would like to begin a major in forensics if she must start over. Troy mentions that you can major in antics, and Abed spouts off a lot of information about  it as if he has researched it seriously. Jeff protests the idea that they have to start over as freshmen, but a group of girls comes in and invites the study group to a freshman mixer and Jeff accepts the role of freshman to chase after the girls. This is the opposite of new Jeff who sent girls away in order to take the final history class needed in the real world. Abed smiles and shakes his head seemingly thinking “classic Jeff” as we are pulled into the real world.

Annie and Shirley are breaking into the dean’s office to pull their senior prank. Annie keeps thinking small, and Shirley has to prod her to think bigger and actually pull off a prank. Annie gets excited about Shirley’s ideas and decides to move everything around the stapler, calling it a prank on a prank and mentions that “there are so many levels to this” —again referencing Inception. Shirley comes up with the idea of filling the dean’s car with popcorn instead. Annie misunderstands the reasoning at first, but grows to accept it. Annie begins to pretend she is the dean to figure out where his keys are. She does an impression of him and has the insight that the character wears heels, so the keys would be in a higher drawer than she first thought. Annie is the old writer, having been left by Jeff, the old show runner, she is treading water and coming up with trite ideas, but Shirley is a new writing partner who can use Annie’s expertise about the characters to prod her into new directions and come up with their own show to create a new history. Jeff comes in to show Annie that he has acquired a red ball for her. Shirley asks if that is blood on Jeff’s shirt, and he says that it is cool because the blood is Leonard’s.

Britta goes to the fountain with Troy to make wishes using the jar of pennies. Troy says that he and Abed always make the first wish together, so they each grab a penny and throw it into the fountain. Britta wishes for a great school year, while Troy wishes for a thousand wishes. He tells Britta that she is not following the rules, because the first wish is always a thousand wishes. Britta acquiesces as Troy wishes that she have half of his remaining wishes. With her next wish, Britta wishes to end all wars, which breaks Abed’s rule about wishes containing the word all because they yield guaranteed ironic consequences. Britta gets into the fountain to take the penny and the wish back, but Troy tells her that this is also against the rules of how the fountain works and that the pennies are not the wishes. They get into a fight and end up spilling the remaining pennies and breaking the jar. Troy is an old fan of the show and Britta is a new fan of the show. In Inception, a character would use a totem to test whether or not the possessor was in their own dream or someone else’s. The show is our dream and our totem as the viewer, and it must conform to the rules we have defined for it or else it is not our show, but someone else’s. Britta is accepting of anything at first, but Troy’s insistence on following the rules to maintain the old status quo is draining all of her pleasure.

Annie and Shirley have lined the inside of the dean’s car with tin foil and are filling it with popcorn which they will pop with magnifying glasses. Annie is complaining to Shirley about Jeff leaving early and what will become of everyone else. She is running future scenarios of everyone outside of school, seeing no fun in any of it. She calls the imagined future a “sad, slow march towards death.” Shirley tries to make her see the bright side, but Annie ignores her. Harmon has said in the past that the Community of the title is not the college, but the study group and that the show could extend outside of the school easily, as long as the group is together. The viewer is also part of that Community. Annie cannot see any of this, however, she only sees that the old, comfortable formula she was writing in is disappearing. 

Jeff is still competing for and winning red balls. He wins each one, bringing his total to 5. The sixth competition is revealed to be a tango contest, which the dean says “requires complete emotional commitment.” Jeff surprises everyone by saying he chooses the dean as his partner. The dean gasps and whispers “the fountain works.” They begin to dance as Chevy still struggles for a joke about balls and we are sucked inside Abed’s head. The freshman mixer from the previous laugh track scene has turned into a food fight. Abed looks happy amidst the chaos, but Annie comes in and says that after only one forensics class she has found a way to retrieve the missing student records. She holds up a giant red ball safe and says that all their student records are backed up inside.

The dean made an undisclosed wish in the fountain, but we know that it was answered when he requested complete emotional commitment from the dancers and Jeff chose the dean to be his partner. Jeff accuses the dean of not wanting him to graduate, and the dean says “I want success for all Greendale students.” The wish seems to have the ironic consequences involving “all” which Troy warned about earlier, because Jeff has identified with the dean enough to know that he is the only one who could have counterfeited the admission slips for the ice cream class. The dean finally admits that he did erase the second history class, and he had hoped Jeff would walk away from the challenges like the rest of the group. If the wish of the producers is that the show will find success with all Greendale viewers so that it may make money, the consequence of this happening is that the viewer will begin to become emotionally invested in the characters and will recognize when the showrunner’s voice behind them changes and that old history between character and viewer is negated. Jeff delivers the sixth ball to Abed and Pierce, and we are pulled into Abed’s head again.

Annie is getting close to cracking the red ball safe, but Abed grabs it from her and holds it close, saying that he does not want her to open it, but that he wishes to stay in the laugh track world forever. Britta coaxes the safe from him, handing it back to Annie as she tells him about going to his happy place. We are now going another layer deeper. In the film Inception, the mark would construct a safe where the idea they most wanted to guard was kept, and the team of extractors would have to crack the safe to find the information they needed. For Fischer, they planted the notion of the safe and then planted the idea with which they wanted to incept him inside the safe. Fischer then journeyed with the team to open the safe, believing what was inside was true. Here, the idea of the red balls being what will release the group from the confines of the school has been planted in Abed’s mind, and he has turned it into a safe which houses the realization about the group which he does not want to face. His subconscious is breaking that idea outward though, thanks to the rules of his totem. The idea of the importance of the red balls and the red safe has also been implanted in the viewer’s mind, and whatever comes out of the safe will be considered more important. However, the safe has not been cracked yet, so Abed retreats further away from it before it can be opened.

In the third world, we see the group as a parody of the Muppet Babies cartoon series. The idea the viewer is being incepted with first was that though the show may be different, at least it has the characters you know and love and not some typical sitcom laugh track fodder. This new idea is that it could be even worse than laugh track fodder though and be an inane cartoon abstraction of all the beloved characters from the original show. In the real world, Pierce finally finds his joke about the balls, but it is weak and anti-climactic. Britta reveals to the rest of the group that she told Abed to go to his happy place in his mind, and the group deliberates about what to do as Jeff pulls himself away to win the last red ball. Troy has everyone else join hands, as he tries to bring them into Abed’s head. Troy says that it is not working though, and no progress is made into waking Abed up from his fantasies. In Inception, a person outside of the dream would deliver what was called “the kick” to the dreamer, as a signal that it was time for them to wake up. This kick could cause the world they were in to crumble, and as seen in the final action sequence, a sequence of kicks can pull the dreamer from one dream to another all the way up until they are back in the real world.

In the cartoon world, baby Jeff announces that he has something to say and the rest of the group cheers “Yay, like always!” As mentioned before, one of the rules of the show is that Jeff delivers a wrap up speech at the end, to tell us the lesson we were supposed to have learned during the episode. This speech serves as Abed’s kick, and the opening of his safe. As cartoon Jeff unlocks the realization Abed had been storing in the safe, Abed is brought out of the cartoon world, back to the laugh track world, where Jeff continues the speech. Jeff’s speech elaborates on the idea that the Community of the title is not the type of college the group is attending, but the group itself and our relationship with the group. Throughout our experiences in the laugh track world, fake show banners have been appearing in the lower third, advertising spin off series featuring the characters from the group in various roles. These were all created by Abed as viable alternatives to experiencing the group. They are a litmus test for the viewer as well: were they funny? would you have liked to see one of those shows? if so, was it because it still had the characters you know and love, not just the actors?

In the real world, Abed tells Jeff that he delivered a killer speech. Jeff dismisses the praise, saying that he “literally just walked up”, and Abed says “I know, I made the speech for you. It hit all the right notes.” Abed then delivers the real wrap up speech. He states that he was afraid of letting go of the status quo of the show in the school because he was so afraid of the future, but then he realized “all of this was once the future, and it was completely different from what I’d known before… but in the end —or in the now, I guess— it turned out great.” Jeff tries to deliver his speech that he mentioned earlier about ice cream, but Abed cuts him off. In the end of Inception, Cobb spins the top which many see as his totem. He watches it for a second to see if it conforms to his rules or not, but whether or not it falls (or even if it is or is not his totem) is an unimportant question, because ultimately he ignores it and walks away, accepting the world he is currently in. Abed has rejected one of the rules of the show by ignoring Jeff’s wrap up and has accepted the current reality of the show. However, whether or not the viewer can ignore the changes and will accept this new reality is unknown. Leonard absconds with all of the balls while the group was listening to Abed, so they have all lost their chance to be in the ice cream class. Annie talks about what she will take instead of history, suggesting advanced claims denial, but Abed suggests that she take forensics, as she had wanted to in the laugh track world. If Annie is an old writer, Abed is saying that she should delve into the past and see how it works and how its current state can be deciphered, offering her an alternative road to history. Abed is also building the current world to make people happier. Just as in Inception, there is no real world aside from that of the viewer who is watching the show. Many viewers will decry a piece of entertainment in which everything turns out to be a dream, because “what is the point?”, but none of this scripted fiction is real anyway, so the posited question can be applied to any episode of the show past, present, or future.

The dean greets Jeff outside of his condo, and reveals that he has reinstated the original history class for the group to take. This history class will require more work from the group, because, as Abed implied, the group’s present will one day be a new history for the viewer. The producer dean has given the show a season in which to make their own new history. The dean reveals that he is also now living next door to Jeff.

In the final scene before the credits, we hear what sounds like rushing water, and a drenched, naked Chang approaching a postman with a note that says his name is Kevin and he has Changnesia. The sound of waves and the wet presentation of Chang are both indicators found in Inception that someone has washed up on the shore of limbo, a shared space of raw subconscious which anyone can change and build within. It is the lowest level of the dream rungs. On one level, this is implying what was stated before: that there was never a real world. On another level, this is stating that in its relationship to the viewer, the show is still in a state of limbo. Will the changes the new people have made to the world everyone shares be accepted by the viewer or rejected? Will the show retain and/or grow its viewer base?

The final tag returns us to the laugh track world, and shows Troy and Abed dressed in drag to obtain entrance to the antics class. After they are accepted, Britta is refused entrance by the dean, and Shirley sticks her head out to say the same thing she said earlier in the real world, now with the inflection of a catch phrase “Oh lord, no.” This is another clue that the real world was never a real world.

Season 1

Community 1x07: “Introduction to Statistics”
Chang introduces Annie by telling the class that all faculty are required to give extra credit to a student who organizes academically related events outside of class. Annie has planned a Dia de los Muertos party which she calls “Mexican Halloween.” She invites the class to the party and asks for RSVPs from the members of her study group. Shirley replies with a yes, citing her new lack of a wedding ring as her reason for going out. Pierce says he already replied, and tries to reconcile with his technology to find his answer. Britta speaks to Jeff in an aside and Jeff states that his answer regarding the party is no. Jeff asks Britta if she is certain that they will never be non-platonic, and she says they will not. Jeff claims that he is happy about this because he actually wishes to pursue one of his professors instead. Having lost control of his phone, Pierce interrupts every one as he exits the room by trying to cover the ramblings of his mother, who is revealing secrets about him. This is not a Halloween episode about fear, but a Dia de los Muertos episode about not being afraid of death and celebrating life as a result.

Prof. Slater wraps up Statistics 101 by describing the Bernoulli Distribution as “the number of successes in a series of independent yes/no experiments.” A Bernoulli Trial is considered fair if the probability of success is 50%. So if you let heads be a success and tails be a failure —or a yes and a no respectively—, and toss the coin, if the probability that it lands on heads is the same as the probability that it lands on tails, the coin toss is fair. Annie conducted a Bernoulli trial earlier to see if people were coming to her party, and Jeff is about to conduct an experiment of his own to see if Prof. Slater will agree to go out with him. Jeff asks 4 times and receives all No answers. Prof. Slater tells him that she has a personal rule against dating students, revealing that Jeff’s experiment is unfair. Britta and Shirley are walking down the hall as Jeff continues to ask Prof. Slater for a date. Shirley is offended on Britta’s behalf for the way Jeff has replaced his advances on Britta with advances on Prof. Slater. Britta maintains that she does not care what Jeff does, however. Jeff’s last tactic in the hallway is to convince Prof. Slater that he is older than her and is no longer a student. As Prof. Slater rejects him once more, Annie appears and accosts Jeff for an answer about attending her party. Jeff is evasive and will not give a yes or no response until Annie begins to cry. Through her tears, Annie says that Jeff is “the cool guy” and will make the party a success, and that the success or failure of the party is her second chance to make herself be “hip, cool, laid back” in the eyes of her peers.

Pierce and Troy are studying silently. As Pierce attempts to take a pill in secret, Abed appears behind him and draws attention to his actions. Abed compares his own grandfather to Pierce and warns about the dangers of taking medications. He gives the anecdote of his grandfather’s memory failing due to age, and taking the wrong pills together, causing him to run down the street with no pants on which is “a real party foul.” Pierce says that he does not need Abed’s advise, and he is not a “pantsless grandpa.” However, Abed’s story will be mirrored in Pierce’s actions before the night is through. Abed is behind Pierce in this scene. Here and for the rest of the episode Abed will symbolize the fear of the character behind whom he appears. Pierce is still afraid of being seen as old, and he will be fighting this image to seem hip, cool, and laid back.

Dressed as a skeleton, Annie welcomes her guests to her party. She removes her mask and greets Britta who is dressed as a squirrel. Britta talks about how she hates “when women use Halloween as an excuse to dress like sluts.” Annie agrees dismissively as she takes off her cape to reveal that her skeleton costume is skin tight. Britta looks at Annie and then down at her own costume sadly. Annie introduces the cookie tombstones “por tradicion” and announces that “la danza de los muertos” will start in a few minutes. Frustrated, Chang yells that she does not have to keep translating everything. Jeff walks in without a costume and Britta teases him about not being out on a date with Prof. Slater. Jeff says that she is grading papers, and Chang yells from across the room to correct him, telling them that Prof. Slater is at the faculty party. We never saw Prof. Slater tell Jeff that she would be grading papers, and based on what she did say earlier, it is more likely that Jeff made up that story to save face in front of Britta. Abed, dressed as Batman, appears behind Jeff, personifying Jeff’s fear that others will find out he was rejected by Prof. Slater. Pierce enters dressed as The Beastmaster from the 1982 film of the same name. No one gets his out of date reference, and he must explain himself to them. Shirley shows up behind Britta, offering drinks with a bad English accent. Jeff thanks her and calls her costume Urkel, but she corrects him saying that she is Harry Potter. Chang makes the same mistake. In fact, no one can see the guise Shirley is presenting for what it means to her.

In the bathroom, Pierce is once again attempting to sneak his medication. Star Burns interrupts him though and offers to trade his own illicit substances for what he thinks are comparable drugs. Pierce refers to his drugs by out of date street names he thinks are cool, but he declines a trade until Star Burns makes a disparaging remark about his coolness by saying that he is not quite the Beastmaster he claims to be. Pierce relents and offers to trade his medication to Star Burns for some ecstasy.


Chang leaves Annie’s party and hands Jeff the clipboard of extra credit. Jeff asks Chang to bring him along to the faculty party so he can talk to Prof. Slater. Chang refuses until Jeff offers him a bribe. Jeff gives the extra credit sheet to someone else and leaves Annie’s party. We were told earlier that Jeff would be the life of Annie’s party, and, with the life absent, Annie’s party starts to die. Abed is behind Annie and their frame tightens as she calls for Jeff and slowly realizes that he is gone. Her fear builds as Abed shares more of her frame. Pierce asks Star Burns what the drug he took was because he keeps grinding his teeth and wants to kiss everybody. Star Burns does not answer, but reveals his own symptoms from the drugs he took off Pierce. They are both artificially trying to change their stage of development and encountering problems. Star Burns is encountering problems taking drugs that will make him old before his time and Pierce is trying to be young again, finding his body cannot handle it. Britta consoles Annie, saying that Jeff will be right back. She pulls Shirley aside saying they have to go bring him back for Annie. Shirley agrees, but keeps making it a vendetta against Prof. Slater. Pierce seems to be doing better with his drugs now, massaging Annie’s shoulders and saying that he loves her.


At the faculty party Jeff is dressed as a cowboy and approaches Prof. Slater, offering her a beer. Jeff continues his Bernoulli Trial of asking her for a date. He says that he hates everyone at the school except for her just as Britta interrupts them. Prof. Slater asks if Britta is a classmate of Jeff’s, and Jeff rejects the term classmate as juvenile saying that “what’s great about community college is that a lot of the students are just as mature as the teachers.” Abed appears now in front of Jeff, saying that Annie is feeling unpopular and needs Jeff to return to the party. Troy entreats Jeff to come help take care of Pierce and his worsening trip. Jeff rejects them all and says that he is at a “grown up Halloween party” calling them all unseemly. Just as Britta asks how exactly they are being unseemly, the dean draws attention to Shirley ripping the antennae off of Prof. Slater’s car. The dean still calls her Urkel, even though Shirley brandishes the antennae like a wand as she rebukes Prof. Slater for “stealing Jeff from a good woman”. Pierce draws attention away from her as he enters, meowing and knocking things over. Jeff rebukes each member of the group in turn, finally telling Pierce that he is “too old to be tripping.” Pierce scoffs at this information, but, as he sees his hands before himself, he does not recognize his own body. Calling himself a zombie, he runs out of the party and the rest of the group follows him. Jeff stays and tries to entice Prof. Slater once again, but she stops him with his own word “unseemly.”

Britta is walking down the hall as she encounters Shirley attempting to fill Prof. Slater’s office with water. When Britta asks why, Shirley states “to teach that long necked, weave having bank teller she can’t steal another woman’s man!” Shirley realizes that she has spoken the truth behind the facade no one could see through before and she tells Britta the whole story. The reason her wedding ring is gone, was not by her own choice, but because her husband wants a divorce and has moved on to someone else whom he wants wearing that ring. Shirley’s reason for coming to the party was not a choice of removing the ring and moving on, but a cover up of the fear of being rejected by her husband. She states that she never wanted him back, but she just wanted to be the one to reject him. Britta listens mostly silent as Shirley talks out her own problem. Shirley concludes: “It’s like I was too proud to admit that I was hurt, so I had to pretend that you were.” Britta responds: “I totally get that.” and says they should go check on Annie. When Shirley is out of the office, Britta shows that she holds some animosity towards Prof. Slater as she calls her pretentious and breaks the head off of one of the trophies. The root of Shirley’s issue is also found in Britta, and just as Shirley was projecting onto Britta, Britta has been projecting onto Annie.

Back at Annie’s party, Pierce is not a pantsless grandpa, but he is committing a party foul by wandering around horrified with a “full on erection.” Pierce sees everyone as a frightening apparition, and he alternates between sobbing and primal roaring. In The Beastmaster, there are zombie like enemies called Death Guards. A Death Guard is just a regular person who has had a leech put into their brain. This leech eats anything it meets and as the movie states “[this] extreme torture transforms the man into a wild beast.” Chevy has allowed the leech of old age equaling death or a wasted life to eat away at his brain, and now he is torturing himself, soon to be running around as even more of a mindless beast if he does not stop this leech of an idea. In his vision, Annie has become Catrina, the depiction of death who taunts the living.

Back at the grown up party, Chang taunts Jeff about striking out with Prof. Slater. Jeff says the campus has fed on his coolness and he no longer has any moves. Chang ridicules Jeff for treating everything like a game with “moves”, and he offers Jeff  ”one move I bet you’ve never tried in your life.” Jeff walks to Prof. Slater with Chang’s new move, and we discover that it is unabashed, childish begging for sex. Prof. Slater accepts, and offers to take Jeff with her only if he stays three steps behind her and never tells anybody. He promises to comply, and they leave together.

As Jeff and Prof. Slater walk past the library together, they see that everyone is gathered outside and inviting Pierce to come out and join them. Pierce refuses, saying that he is not ready to die. Troy beseeches Jeff to help and Jeff stops to consider. Jeff says goodnight to Prof. Slater, and she asks if he has been appointed guardian of the group. He says: “they’re my classmates.” Jeff has accepted the role he refused so vehemently earlier. Jeff’s goal was to be a sexual hero to an ideal he held for himself, and also to be graded on his life thus far and be found as an adult. Instead, he goes back to being a student and accumulating successes in the experiment of his life. Had he gone with Prof. Slater, Jeff would have had to stay three steps behind her. He would be stuck developmentally. Jung discovered that many of his patients were stuck at some earlier phase in their childhood which then defined the type of adult that they were. Dia de los Muertos takes place over three nights, the gates to the afterlife open on Halloween night, the dead children come first, then the adults come two days later. Deceased adults are depicted as maintaining into the afterlife the same station they had at the time of their death. By going to die on this Halloween night, Jeff would leave his classmates (whom he deemed juvenile) behind, and return stuck in his role of hero to no one forever. He would be choosing to halt his learning in life, and forcibly end his Bernoulli Trial. Pierce feels that he has lived beyond the point of achieving anymore successes in his own life’s Bernoulli Trial and that this same halting was chosen for him because of his age.

From within a large desk fort, Pierce says that he will crush himself to death with desks and tables. Like Star Burns, Jeff appeals to Pierce’s costume identity and asks if that is a death befitting a Beastmaster. Pierce now admits that he never saw the film, but that he just wanted to be cool. Jeff removes his hat, seizing an opportunity to be a different kind of hero, and crawls into the desk fort in which Pierce is cowering. Pierce admits finally: “I’m old Jeff.” Jeff rejoins: “I don’t know how you spent the first sixty years, but I know in the last two months you’ve probably doubled the national average for amount of life lived per lifetime.” Pierce accepts this, and Jeff adds “if life is just a series of ridiculous attempts to be alive, you’re a hero to everything that’s ever lived.” Just as with Annie and Shirley earlier, everything Jeff is saying applies to both Jeff and Pierce. Jeff is saying that life is just a Bernoulli Trial and that though it is unfair (as everyone always says), you can make it unfair in your favor by gaining extra credit (like doubling the amount of life lived per lifetime). In the past two months that Jeff mentions Pierce has joined the study group, and this then is how you gain extra credit: by studying with other people, by taking on other people’s life experiences through empathy or through actual shared experience. Jeff said that Pierce is a hero to everything that has ever lived, now making him The Beastmaster he is dressed as. The others who have not figured out their lives, who are becoming Death Guards via some nagging thought that is making them into mindless beasts can be helped by Pierce’s experience, and he by theirs. The Beastmaster described his own powers in the film as empathy and shared experience saying: “I see through their eyes. They know my thoughts; I know theirs.” By delivering this speech, Jeff is also taking his own advice and staying back as a student rather than an “adult”, and empathizing with Pierce because their problems are similar. In fact, all of the main character’s problems stem from a similar fear of rejection. Pierce accepts Jeff’s assessment of his life triumphantly, and accidentally destroys the equilibrium of the desk fort, causing it to tremble and begin to fall on top of them. Abed appears from nowhere and grabs them both, pulling them out of the fort as it crumbles. They are situated such that Abed is behind both of them as they are dragged from the wreckage. Abed is now fear as a motivator. They are afraid of death or afraid of a wasted life, and that is good because it is motivating them to move forward and not to sit passively waiting for death to come tally their successes and failures. Jeff asks if Abed is staying for the party, and Abed says that if he stays “there can be no party.” The party thus far has been a failure because it is filled with fear. Dia de los Muertos is not about fear, but about embracing death as an equalizer and celebrating the lives of the deceased. This is why Chang wanted Annie to stop translating everything earlier, because at that time the party was a Halloween party driven by fear. Once Abed removes himself from the library and the party, we see everyone enjoying themselves and enjoying the company of each other. They are now all gaining extra credit by sharing and incorporating the lives of others into their own, no longer fearing death but reveling in life, adding to the successes column of their Bernoulli Trials.


we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
- e. e. cummings

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

Community 1x07: “Introduction to Statistics”

Chang introduces Annie by telling the class that all faculty are required to give extra credit to a student who organizes academically related events outside of class. Annie has planned a Dia de los Muertos party which she calls “Mexican Halloween.” She invites the class to the party and asks for RSVPs from the members of her study group. Shirley replies with a yes, citing her new lack of a wedding ring as her reason for going out. Pierce says he already replied, and tries to reconcile with his technology to find his answer. Britta speaks to Jeff in an aside and Jeff states that his answer regarding the party is no. Jeff asks Britta if she is certain that they will never be non-platonic, and she says they will not. Jeff claims that he is happy about this because he actually wishes to pursue one of his professors instead. Having lost control of his phone, Pierce interrupts every one as he exits the room by trying to cover the ramblings of his mother, who is revealing secrets about him. This is not a Halloween episode about fear, but a Dia de los Muertos episode about not being afraid of death and celebrating life as a result.

Prof. Slater wraps up Statistics 101 by describing the Bernoulli Distribution as “the number of successes in a series of independent yes/no experiments.” A Bernoulli Trial is considered fair if the probability of success is 50%. So if you let heads be a success and tails be a failure —or a yes and a no respectively—, and toss the coin, if the probability that it lands on heads is the same as the probability that it lands on tails, the coin toss is fair. Annie conducted a Bernoulli trial earlier to see if people were coming to her party, and Jeff is about to conduct an experiment of his own to see if Prof. Slater will agree to go out with him. Jeff asks 4 times and receives all No answers. Prof. Slater tells him that she has a personal rule against dating students, revealing that Jeff’s experiment is unfair. Britta and Shirley are walking down the hall as Jeff continues to ask Prof. Slater for a date. Shirley is offended on Britta’s behalf for the way Jeff has replaced his advances on Britta with advances on Prof. Slater. Britta maintains that she does not care what Jeff does, however. Jeff’s last tactic in the hallway is to convince Prof. Slater that he is older than her and is no longer a student. As Prof. Slater rejects him once more, Annie appears and accosts Jeff for an answer about attending her party. Jeff is evasive and will not give a yes or no response until Annie begins to cry. Through her tears, Annie says that Jeff is “the cool guy” and will make the party a success, and that the success or failure of the party is her second chance to make herself be “hip, cool, laid back” in the eyes of her peers.

Pierce and Troy are studying silently. As Pierce attempts to take a pill in secret, Abed appears behind him and draws attention to his actions. Abed compares his own grandfather to Pierce and warns about the dangers of taking medications. He gives the anecdote of his grandfather’s memory failing due to age, and taking the wrong pills together, causing him to run down the street with no pants on which is “a real party foul.” Pierce says that he does not need Abed’s advise, and he is not a “pantsless grandpa.” However, Abed’s story will be mirrored in Pierce’s actions before the night is through. Abed is behind Pierce in this scene. Here and for the rest of the episode Abed will symbolize the fear of the character behind whom he appears. Pierce is still afraid of being seen as old, and he will be fighting this image to seem hip, cool, and laid back.

Dressed as a skeleton, Annie welcomes her guests to her party. She removes her mask and greets Britta who is dressed as a squirrel. Britta talks about how she hates “when women use Halloween as an excuse to dress like sluts.” Annie agrees dismissively as she takes off her cape to reveal that her skeleton costume is skin tight. Britta looks at Annie and then down at her own costume sadly. Annie introduces the cookie tombstones “por tradicion” and announces that “la danza de los muertos” will start in a few minutes. Frustrated, Chang yells that she does not have to keep translating everything. Jeff walks in without a costume and Britta teases him about not being out on a date with Prof. Slater. Jeff says that she is grading papers, and Chang yells from across the room to correct him, telling them that Prof. Slater is at the faculty party. We never saw Prof. Slater tell Jeff that she would be grading papers, and based on what she did say earlier, it is more likely that Jeff made up that story to save face in front of Britta. Abed, dressed as Batman, appears behind Jeff, personifying Jeff’s fear that others will find out he was rejected by Prof. Slater. Pierce enters dressed as The Beastmaster from the 1982 film of the same name. No one gets his out of date reference, and he must explain himself to them. Shirley shows up behind Britta, offering drinks with a bad English accent. Jeff thanks her and calls her costume Urkel, but she corrects him saying that she is Harry Potter. Chang makes the same mistake. In fact, no one can see the guise Shirley is presenting for what it means to her.

In the bathroom, Pierce is once again attempting to sneak his medication. Star Burns interrupts him though and offers to trade his own illicit substances for what he thinks are comparable drugs. Pierce refers to his drugs by out of date street names he thinks are cool, but he declines a trade until Star Burns makes a disparaging remark about his coolness by saying that he is not quite the Beastmaster he claims to be. Pierce relents and offers to trade his medication to Star Burns for some ecstasy.

Chang leaves Annie’s party and hands Jeff the clipboard of extra credit. Jeff asks Chang to bring him along to the faculty party so he can talk to Prof. Slater. Chang refuses until Jeff offers him a bribe. Jeff gives the extra credit sheet to someone else and leaves Annie’s party. We were told earlier that Jeff would be the life of Annie’s party, and, with the life absent, Annie’s party starts to die. Abed is behind Annie and their frame tightens as she calls for Jeff and slowly realizes that he is gone. Her fear builds as Abed shares more of her frame. Pierce asks Star Burns what the drug he took was because he keeps grinding his teeth and wants to kiss everybody. Star Burns does not answer, but reveals his own symptoms from the drugs he took off Pierce. They are both artificially trying to change their stage of development and encountering problems. Star Burns is encountering problems taking drugs that will make him old before his time and Pierce is trying to be young again, finding his body cannot handle it. Britta consoles Annie, saying that Jeff will be right back. She pulls Shirley aside saying they have to go bring him back for Annie. Shirley agrees, but keeps making it a vendetta against Prof. Slater. Pierce seems to be doing better with his drugs now, massaging Annie’s shoulders and saying that he loves her.

At the faculty party Jeff is dressed as a cowboy and approaches Prof. Slater, offering her a beer. Jeff continues his Bernoulli Trial of asking her for a date. He says that he hates everyone at the school except for her just as Britta interrupts them. Prof. Slater asks if Britta is a classmate of Jeff’s, and Jeff rejects the term classmate as juvenile saying that “what’s great about community college is that a lot of the students are just as mature as the teachers.” Abed appears now in front of Jeff, saying that Annie is feeling unpopular and needs Jeff to return to the party. Troy entreats Jeff to come help take care of Pierce and his worsening trip. Jeff rejects them all and says that he is at a “grown up Halloween party” calling them all unseemly. Just as Britta asks how exactly they are being unseemly, the dean draws attention to Shirley ripping the antennae off of Prof. Slater’s car. The dean still calls her Urkel, even though Shirley brandishes the antennae like a wand as she rebukes Prof. Slater for “stealing Jeff from a good woman”. Pierce draws attention away from her as he enters, meowing and knocking things over. Jeff rebukes each member of the group in turn, finally telling Pierce that he is “too old to be tripping.” Pierce scoffs at this information, but, as he sees his hands before himself, he does not recognize his own body. Calling himself a zombie, he runs out of the party and the rest of the group follows him. Jeff stays and tries to entice Prof. Slater once again, but she stops him with his own word “unseemly.”

Britta is walking down the hall as she encounters Shirley attempting to fill Prof. Slater’s office with water. When Britta asks why, Shirley states “to teach that long necked, weave having bank teller she can’t steal another woman’s man!” Shirley realizes that she has spoken the truth behind the facade no one could see through before and she tells Britta the whole story. The reason her wedding ring is gone, was not by her own choice, but because her husband wants a divorce and has moved on to someone else whom he wants wearing that ring. Shirley’s reason for coming to the party was not a choice of removing the ring and moving on, but a cover up of the fear of being rejected by her husband. She states that she never wanted him back, but she just wanted to be the one to reject him. Britta listens mostly silent as Shirley talks out her own problem. Shirley concludes: “It’s like I was too proud to admit that I was hurt, so I had to pretend that you were.” Britta responds: “I totally get that.” and says they should go check on Annie. When Shirley is out of the office, Britta shows that she holds some animosity towards Prof. Slater as she calls her pretentious and breaks the head off of one of the trophies. The root of Shirley’s issue is also found in Britta, and just as Shirley was projecting onto Britta, Britta has been projecting onto Annie.

Back at Annie’s party, Pierce is not a pantsless grandpa, but he is committing a party foul by wandering around horrified with a “full on erection.” Pierce sees everyone as a frightening apparition, and he alternates between sobbing and primal roaring. In The Beastmaster, there are zombie like enemies called Death Guards. A Death Guard is just a regular person who has had a leech put into their brain. This leech eats anything it meets and as the movie states “[this] extreme torture transforms the man into a wild beast.” Chevy has allowed the leech of old age equaling death or a wasted life to eat away at his brain, and now he is torturing himself, soon to be running around as even more of a mindless beast if he does not stop this leech of an idea. In his vision, Annie has become Catrina, the depiction of death who taunts the living.

Back at the grown up party, Chang taunts Jeff about striking out with Prof. Slater. Jeff says the campus has fed on his coolness and he no longer has any moves. Chang ridicules Jeff for treating everything like a game with “moves”, and he offers Jeff  ”one move I bet you’ve never tried in your life.” Jeff walks to Prof. Slater with Chang’s new move, and we discover that it is unabashed, childish begging for sex. Prof. Slater accepts, and offers to take Jeff with her only if he stays three steps behind her and never tells anybody. He promises to comply, and they leave together.

As Jeff and Prof. Slater walk past the library together, they see that everyone is gathered outside and inviting Pierce to come out and join them. Pierce refuses, saying that he is not ready to die. Troy beseeches Jeff to help and Jeff stops to consider. Jeff says goodnight to Prof. Slater, and she asks if he has been appointed guardian of the group. He says: “they’re my classmates.” Jeff has accepted the role he refused so vehemently earlier. Jeff’s goal was to be a sexual hero to an ideal he held for himself, and also to be graded on his life thus far and be found as an adult. Instead, he goes back to being a student and accumulating successes in the experiment of his life. Had he gone with Prof. Slater, Jeff would have had to stay three steps behind her. He would be stuck developmentally. Jung discovered that many of his patients were stuck at some earlier phase in their childhood which then defined the type of adult that they were. Dia de los Muertos takes place over three nights, the gates to the afterlife open on Halloween night, the dead children come first, then the adults come two days later. Deceased adults are depicted as maintaining into the afterlife the same station they had at the time of their death. By going to die on this Halloween night, Jeff would leave his classmates (whom he deemed juvenile) behind, and return stuck in his role of hero to no one forever. He would be choosing to halt his learning in life, and forcibly end his Bernoulli Trial. Pierce feels that he has lived beyond the point of achieving anymore successes in his own life’s Bernoulli Trial and that this same halting was chosen for him because of his age.

From within a large desk fort, Pierce says that he will crush himself to death with desks and tables. Like Star Burns, Jeff appeals to Pierce’s costume identity and asks if that is a death befitting a Beastmaster. Pierce now admits that he never saw the film, but that he just wanted to be cool. Jeff removes his hat, seizing an opportunity to be a different kind of hero, and crawls into the desk fort in which Pierce is cowering. Pierce admits finally: “I’m old Jeff.” Jeff rejoins: “I don’t know how you spent the first sixty years, but I know in the last two months you’ve probably doubled the national average for amount of life lived per lifetime.” Pierce accepts this, and Jeff adds “if life is just a series of ridiculous attempts to be alive, you’re a hero to everything that’s ever lived.” Just as with Annie and Shirley earlier, everything Jeff is saying applies to both Jeff and Pierce. Jeff is saying that life is just a Bernoulli Trial and that though it is unfair (as everyone always says), you can make it unfair in your favor by gaining extra credit (like doubling the amount of life lived per lifetime). In the past two months that Jeff mentions Pierce has joined the study group, and this then is how you gain extra credit: by studying with other people, by taking on other people’s life experiences through empathy or through actual shared experience. Jeff said that Pierce is a hero to everything that has ever lived, now making him The Beastmaster he is dressed as. The others who have not figured out their lives, who are becoming Death Guards via some nagging thought that is making them into mindless beasts can be helped by Pierce’s experience, and he by theirs. The Beastmaster described his own powers in the film as empathy and shared experience saying: “I see through their eyes. They know my thoughts; I know theirs.” By delivering this speech, Jeff is also taking his own advice and staying back as a student rather than an “adult”, and empathizing with Pierce because their problems are similar. In fact, all of the main character’s problems stem from a similar fear of rejection. Pierce accepts Jeff’s assessment of his life triumphantly, and accidentally destroys the equilibrium of the desk fort, causing it to tremble and begin to fall on top of them. Abed appears from nowhere and grabs them both, pulling them out of the fort as it crumbles. They are situated such that Abed is behind both of them as they are dragged from the wreckage. Abed is now fear as a motivator. They are afraid of death or afraid of a wasted life, and that is good because it is motivating them to move forward and not to sit passively waiting for death to come tally their successes and failures. Jeff asks if Abed is staying for the party, and Abed says that if he stays “there can be no party.” The party thus far has been a failure because it is filled with fear. Dia de los Muertos is not about fear, but about embracing death as an equalizer and celebrating the lives of the deceased. This is why Chang wanted Annie to stop translating everything earlier, because at that time the party was a Halloween party driven by fear. Once Abed removes himself from the library and the party, we see everyone enjoying themselves and enjoying the company of each other. They are now all gaining extra credit by sharing and incorporating the lives of others into their own, no longer fearing death but reveling in life, adding to the successes column of their Bernoulli Trials.

we are for each other: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

- e. e. cummings

 

Hey guys, I’m pretty sure this is why they postponed Community.

Wait, so if Community and Sons of Anarchy take place in the same universe, then is this a doppelganger or actually Jeff Winger? IMDb says his name is Warren, but it could be an alias.

Wait, so if Community and Sons of Anarchy take place in the same universe, then is this a doppelganger or actually Jeff Winger? IMDb says his name is Warren, but it could be an alias.

Community 1x06: “Football, Feminism and You”
The episode opens with Annie quizzing Troy on Astronomy. Troy gets the answer correct and reveals he used a memory technique that is grounded in non pc language. Annie does not address the slur and proceeds to continue the quiz on the topic of black holes, and Pierce begins what sounds like an inappropriately sexual joke about black holes. However, as the group braces for disgust, Pierce speaks eruditely about a particular black hole and its specifications. The group relaxes except for Jeff who remains ready for Pierce’s crude side, and Pierce does not disappoint as he compares the size of the black hole to his weiner. Troy appreciates the childish language and Abed blankly states that Troy and Pierce have started bonding over the use of adolescent humor. They both rejoin with first grade insults. The dean enters and comments on the diversity of the group. Pierce insults the dean, but becomes contrite when he is told of the dean’s station at the school. The dean forgives Pierce dismissively and uses a poor segue to reveal his true purpose of seducing Troy to join the Human Beings (the Greendale football team). The dean reveals that the team was going to be called The Greendale Grizzlies, but many of the students “have been called animals their whole lives.” He admits, however, that presenting the grizzly now as a human being has left him at a loss as to what the public face of the mascot will be. Pierce happily offers his services which, while sounding applicable, are quickly discounted by his addition of “Y2K preparedness” as a useful skill. The dean is not off-put by this and seems to file away Pierce’s offer as useful as he returns to his quest to make Troy part of the Human Beings. Annie answers for Troy saying that he is no longer interested in football and the dean dismisses her by saying “Yoko Ono much?” and “Bros before hoes, Troy.” Troy states that he means no offense, but he was the best when he left football behind and Greendale is beneath him. Jeff dismisses the dean and the group prepares to study Spanish. Shirley gets up to go to the bathroom and invites Britta to go with her. Britta declines and Shirley looks perplexed, taking Annie with her as she leaves. Britta questions Shirley’s offended reaction and Jeff reminds her that “girls go in groups”, as he learned from standup comedy in the ’90s. She says she will go next time to please Shirley, and Jeff proceeds to hit on her. Abed comments on the sexual tension between them as if he is reviewing the show from a fan site. Jeff chastises him and Abed agrees to leave for the remainder of the episode. This episode is about the Jungian idea of persona building and a look at archetypes as seen in TV character stereotypes. As Jung said “The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.” Troy has been presented with two masks he can wear (jock or astronomer), and though we do not know it yet, he has shown us a third mask. Pierce has shown us two masks, and Jeff has presented one to Britta, who has also shown us her mask (though we do not yet know it). Abed can see through the masks and is therefore dismissed from the episode.

Jeff mocks the football team in front of Troy, and Annie attempts to get Troy to talk about science more, but he misses the point. As they walk down the hall, Jeff sees a poster of his face proclaiming that he is a student at Greendale, and he mutters “that’s not good.”

Britta invites Shirley to the bathroom with her instead of waiting for a second invitation from Shirley. Shirley accepts, and she begins venting about an earlier slight against her once they are inside. Britta takes the side of the stranger and shuts down Shirley’s complaint without seeking a connection. Shirley then attempts to bond with Britta over family, but Britta dismisses Shirley and her mother as programmed by the makeup industry and launches into a tirade that is stifled by Shirley’s activation of the hand dryer. Shirley later tells us that the purpose of the bathroom is “a place where ladies go to share, listen, support each other, and discreetly eliminate waste.” Instead, Britta is wearing a mask that completely blocks any connection Shirley tries to make in this place of sharing.

Pierce and the dean are discussing the public face of the Greendale Human Beings. Pierce is seeing things as black and white (racially) and the dean is trying to get him to think more about diversity by listing ethnicities to ignore. Jeff walks in holding the poster of his face and asks to speak to the dean away from Pierce. Jeff complains that this mask was made for him by the dean without his permission, and proceeds to ask “where’s the heart, where’s the soul, where’s the different poster design?” This is Jeff’s current face. He is a student at Greendale, but to him this does not convey the image he wishes to show. It does not have the personality (heart and soul) that he wishes to impress upon others. The dean shows him a full body mailer which clearly depicts Jeff at school. Jeff rejects this mirror and rips the mailer in half. The dean informs Jeff that if he can persuade Troy to play for the Human Beings, the mailers and posters will be suppressed. Before Jeff can agree or decline, Pierce interrupts them with the first draft of the public face of the Human Beings. Jeff sees it as a falcon with a gun, Pierce turns it and it becomes a falcon with an erection to Jeff. The viewer never gets to see the image. Is this a Rorschach test for Jeff? Does he see humans as either powerful/forceful or sexual only?

Shirley, Britta, Annie, and Troy are eating in the cafeteria. Shirley announces her need to use the bathroom and Britta volunteers to go with her. Shirley forcefully rejects her offer and leaves Britta hurt and defensive. She exits as well and Annie attempts to bring Troy back into astronomy. Troy answers her question incorrectly, but she laughs it off. Jeff enters and pulls Troy away from Annie. Jeff begins to talk to Troy about football, but Troy’s answers are just as silly and off topic as they were with Annie and the Astronomy conversations. Here, the viewer is faced with their perception of TV stereotypes. All of Troy’s dumb answers thus far have served to enforce the idea of the dumb jock and depending on the viewer’s investment in stereotypes, they may root for Troy to enforce the type and become a dumb jock, or they may wish for Troy and Annie to be together and break the type. Regardless of the mask you choose for Troy, there has been no evidence that Troy wants either of these. Both masks are manipulations, and as we will see shortly, they are both projections of the characters offering the masks. To simplify the subject, the Jungian shadow is that element of the psyche that the bearer ignores and pushes underneath their consciousness. As Jung said “Projection makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.” This unknown shadow face has, among other things, that which we do not like about ourselves and that which outside forces (parents, teachers, etc.) have repressed during early development. 

On the football field, Jeff reveals to Troy that he drives by the courthouse every day on his way to school, in order to “get a glimpse of what I once ruled.” He compares Troy’s options to his own, saying that he is locked out of his old life, but Troy is not. They quickly run through a psychological Abbot and Costello routine, listing off cliches and pointing out the biases underneath each. Jeff quickly paints a picture of how great football can be, as he hands Troy a football and tells him that it is the only important thing in his life. Jeff continues painting the picture of success in football, projecting into it everything he would want from his old life as a lawyer (within football’s terminology). Troy seems to be persuaded.

Britta has clearly been waiting outside the bathroom for Shirley to emerge, and when she does, Britta attempts to guilt trip Shirley about now excluding her from a shared bathroom experience. Shirley apologizes, but Britta deflects this again with her mask that she will reveal in a moment. Shirley now explains what the purpose of the bathroom is and breaks through Britta’s mask by telling her that if she cannot learn to be soft, she needs to pee alone. Britta reveals what she has been repressing beneath her mask, that she has peed alone her entire life because “women have always hated me”, perhaps because she “got boobs before everyone.” Shirley quiets her and invites her to continue tearing down her mask inside the bathroom.

Troy enters, playing to the TV stereotype of the jock with an inflated sense of self and an aversion to learning. He rejects Annie’s attempts to present the mask she wants for him, and we see her shadow start to emerge as she explains that she had a crush on him in high school but was not “allowed to say anything because [her] parents are bigots.” She tells him football is bad for him, and he responds “Jeff said you’d say that” as he walks away.

Jeff walks in on Pierce and the dean continuing their work on the face of the Greendale Human Being. He discovers that they have created charts and representations of all aspects of race to consciously ignore as they define a Human Being. Pierce and the dean are misunderstanding what a mask is. They are attempting to get under a mask of physical features instead of the psyche. By focusing so much on the outward, they are never able to go inward. This also works as a metaphor for Jung’s warning against being all persona. Being overly focused on the persona leads to being non-reflective and turning into a conformist. Jung termed the possible end result of this “Enantiodromia” which is a five dollar word for balance. If much effort is put into your persona and nothing else, eventually the ignored subconscious personality that is being suppressed will balance out that effort by exerting the same amount of energy to break forth and become your new persona. It is also possible that you inflate a persona so much that it crushes your subconscious individuality. In the commentary, Harmon states that Jeff’s response to Pierce and the dean’s racial charts “I think not being racist is the new racism” is his idea of the dean’s administration at Greendale, that the dean is trying to create a perfect world through an inflated persona. The students within this world then are to be watched for whether they collapse under the persona or emerge as their unique personality.

Annie confronts Jeff about steering Troy toward football. Jeff admits he is being blackmailed and Annie calls him selfish. Jeff responds by telling Annie the same thing. They have both been told now that they are projecting, and they will either reflect on the reasons for their projections internally and make a breakthrough, or continue projecting.

Annie flees the confrontation with Jeff and heads for the bathroom. She invites Shirley to go with her, but Shirley suggests that Britta try lowering her mask and connecting with Annie instead. Britta comes in behind Annie and Annie is dismayed at first, assuming that she will not be able to make a connection through Britta’s usual mask. Britta puts on the mask she thinks Annie needs and parrots Annie’s sentiment, but still does not make a connection until she allows herself to make a non-masked response. Annie has a breakthrough and will stop projecting.

Jeff has apparently had his own breakthrough off screen, and he has come to the gymnasium to stop Troy from pursuing the dream of football into which he was manipulated by Jeff. Troy is chanting with the rest of the team “Human Beings! Human Beings!” and is quieted by Jeff. Troy interrupts Jeff’s speech and reveals that he too has been wearing a mask this whole time. Troy hurt himself on purpose to get out of football in high school, because he could not take the pressure of what would come after. He reveals his realization to Jeff by telling Jeff what he should do “you should try accepting where you’re at, man. Take a pottery class or something.” Throughout the scene, Jeff has been standing next to the poster of himself which he had been tearing down through the rest of the episode, but he leaves the poster untouched, now accepting where he is at as a student of Greendale.

Having both had breakthroughs, Jeff and Annie rejoin to apologize to one another. The finished product of Pierce and the dean’s work shows up. It is a human being who is all persona and can neither talk nor hear. It must be led around based on the whims of others, just as Jung warned. Jeff and Annie embrace out of aversion to this type of human being.

When I first saw this episode, I got hung up on the racism aspect and tried to apply that to everything else, and I did not see it for the metaphor it is. Another aspect of the episode I enjoyed was that it has its own anima and animus in its two main stories, and the episode allows the viewer to find the balance between the two in their reactions to them.
Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis

Community 1x06: “Football, Feminism and You”

The episode opens with Annie quizzing Troy on Astronomy. Troy gets the answer correct and reveals he used a memory technique that is grounded in non pc language. Annie does not address the slur and proceeds to continue the quiz on the topic of black holes, and Pierce begins what sounds like an inappropriately sexual joke about black holes. However, as the group braces for disgust, Pierce speaks eruditely about a particular black hole and its specifications. The group relaxes except for Jeff who remains ready for Pierce’s crude side, and Pierce does not disappoint as he compares the size of the black hole to his weiner. Troy appreciates the childish language and Abed blankly states that Troy and Pierce have started bonding over the use of adolescent humor. They both rejoin with first grade insults. The dean enters and comments on the diversity of the group. Pierce insults the dean, but becomes contrite when he is told of the dean’s station at the school. The dean forgives Pierce dismissively and uses a poor segue to reveal his true purpose of seducing Troy to join the Human Beings (the Greendale football team). The dean reveals that the team was going to be called The Greendale Grizzlies, but many of the students “have been called animals their whole lives.” He admits, however, that presenting the grizzly now as a human being has left him at a loss as to what the public face of the mascot will be. Pierce happily offers his services which, while sounding applicable, are quickly discounted by his addition of “Y2K preparedness” as a useful skill. The dean is not off-put by this and seems to file away Pierce’s offer as useful as he returns to his quest to make Troy part of the Human Beings. Annie answers for Troy saying that he is no longer interested in football and the dean dismisses her by saying “Yoko Ono much?” and “Bros before hoes, Troy.” Troy states that he means no offense, but he was the best when he left football behind and Greendale is beneath him. Jeff dismisses the dean and the group prepares to study Spanish. Shirley gets up to go to the bathroom and invites Britta to go with her. Britta declines and Shirley looks perplexed, taking Annie with her as she leaves. Britta questions Shirley’s offended reaction and Jeff reminds her that “girls go in groups”, as he learned from standup comedy in the ’90s. She says she will go next time to please Shirley, and Jeff proceeds to hit on her. Abed comments on the sexual tension between them as if he is reviewing the show from a fan site. Jeff chastises him and Abed agrees to leave for the remainder of the episode. This episode is about the Jungian idea of persona building and a look at archetypes as seen in TV character stereotypes. As Jung said “The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.” Troy has been presented with two masks he can wear (jock or astronomer), and though we do not know it yet, he has shown us a third mask. Pierce has shown us two masks, and Jeff has presented one to Britta, who has also shown us her mask (though we do not yet know it). Abed can see through the masks and is therefore dismissed from the episode.

image

Jeff mocks the football team in front of Troy, and Annie attempts to get Troy to talk about science more, but he misses the point. As they walk down the hall, Jeff sees a poster of his face proclaiming that he is a student at Greendale, and he mutters “that’s not good.”

image

Britta invites Shirley to the bathroom with her instead of waiting for a second invitation from Shirley. Shirley accepts, and she begins venting about an earlier slight against her once they are inside. Britta takes the side of the stranger and shuts down Shirley’s complaint without seeking a connection. Shirley then attempts to bond with Britta over family, but Britta dismisses Shirley and her mother as programmed by the makeup industry and launches into a tirade that is stifled by Shirley’s activation of the hand dryer. Shirley later tells us that the purpose of the bathroom is “a place where ladies go to share, listen, support each other, and discreetly eliminate waste.” Instead, Britta is wearing a mask that completely blocks any connection Shirley tries to make in this place of sharing.

image

Pierce and the dean are discussing the public face of the Greendale Human Beings. Pierce is seeing things as black and white (racially) and the dean is trying to get him to think more about diversity by listing ethnicities to ignore. Jeff walks in holding the poster of his face and asks to speak to the dean away from Pierce. Jeff complains that this mask was made for him by the dean without his permission, and proceeds to ask “where’s the heart, where’s the soul, where’s the different poster design?” This is Jeff’s current face. He is a student at Greendale, but to him this does not convey the image he wishes to show. It does not have the personality (heart and soul) that he wishes to impress upon others. The dean shows him a full body mailer which clearly depicts Jeff at school. Jeff rejects this mirror and rips the mailer in half. The dean informs Jeff that if he can persuade Troy to play for the Human Beings, the mailers and posters will be suppressed. Before Jeff can agree or decline, Pierce interrupts them with the first draft of the public face of the Human Beings. Jeff sees it as a falcon with a gun, Pierce turns it and it becomes a falcon with an erection to Jeff. The viewer never gets to see the image. Is this a Rorschach test for Jeff? Does he see humans as either powerful/forceful or sexual only?

image

Shirley, Britta, Annie, and Troy are eating in the cafeteria. Shirley announces her need to use the bathroom and Britta volunteers to go with her. Shirley forcefully rejects her offer and leaves Britta hurt and defensive. She exits as well and Annie attempts to bring Troy back into astronomy. Troy answers her question incorrectly, but she laughs it off. Jeff enters and pulls Troy away from Annie. Jeff begins to talk to Troy about football, but Troy’s answers are just as silly and off topic as they were with Annie and the Astronomy conversations. Here, the viewer is faced with their perception of TV stereotypes. All of Troy’s dumb answers thus far have served to enforce the idea of the dumb jock and depending on the viewer’s investment in stereotypes, they may root for Troy to enforce the type and become a dumb jock, or they may wish for Troy and Annie to be together and break the type. Regardless of the mask you choose for Troy, there has been no evidence that Troy wants either of these. Both masks are manipulations, and as we will see shortly, they are both projections of the characters offering the masks. To simplify the subject, the Jungian shadow is that element of the psyche that the bearer ignores and pushes underneath their consciousness. As Jung said “Projection makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.” This unknown shadow face has, among other things, that which we do not like about ourselves and that which outside forces (parents, teachers, etc.) have repressed during early development. 

image

On the football field, Jeff reveals to Troy that he drives by the courthouse every day on his way to school, in order to “get a glimpse of what I once ruled.” He compares Troy’s options to his own, saying that he is locked out of his old life, but Troy is not. They quickly run through a psychological Abbot and Costello routine, listing off cliches and pointing out the biases underneath each. Jeff quickly paints a picture of how great football can be, as he hands Troy a football and tells him that it is the only important thing in his life. Jeff continues painting the picture of success in football, projecting into it everything he would want from his old life as a lawyer (within football’s terminology). Troy seems to be persuaded.

image

Britta has clearly been waiting outside the bathroom for Shirley to emerge, and when she does, Britta attempts to guilt trip Shirley about now excluding her from a shared bathroom experience. Shirley apologizes, but Britta deflects this again with her mask that she will reveal in a moment. Shirley now explains what the purpose of the bathroom is and breaks through Britta’s mask by telling her that if she cannot learn to be soft, she needs to pee alone. Britta reveals what she has been repressing beneath her mask, that she has peed alone her entire life because “women have always hated me”, perhaps because she “got boobs before everyone.” Shirley quiets her and invites her to continue tearing down her mask inside the bathroom.

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Troy enters, playing to the TV stereotype of the jock with an inflated sense of self and an aversion to learning. He rejects Annie’s attempts to present the mask she wants for him, and we see her shadow start to emerge as she explains that she had a crush on him in high school but was not “allowed to say anything because [her] parents are bigots.” She tells him football is bad for him, and he responds “Jeff said you’d say that” as he walks away.

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Jeff walks in on Pierce and the dean continuing their work on the face of the Greendale Human Being. He discovers that they have created charts and representations of all aspects of race to consciously ignore as they define a Human Being. Pierce and the dean are misunderstanding what a mask is. They are attempting to get under a mask of physical features instead of the psyche. By focusing so much on the outward, they are never able to go inward. This also works as a metaphor for Jung’s warning against being all persona. Being overly focused on the persona leads to being non-reflective and turning into a conformist. Jung termed the possible end result of this “Enantiodromia” which is a five dollar word for balance. If much effort is put into your persona and nothing else, eventually the ignored subconscious personality that is being suppressed will balance out that effort by exerting the same amount of energy to break forth and become your new persona. It is also possible that you inflate a persona so much that it crushes your subconscious individuality. In the commentary, Harmon states that Jeff’s response to Pierce and the dean’s racial charts “I think not being racist is the new racism” is his idea of the dean’s administration at Greendale, that the dean is trying to create a perfect world through an inflated persona. The students within this world then are to be watched for whether they collapse under the persona or emerge as their unique personality.

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Annie confronts Jeff about steering Troy toward football. Jeff admits he is being blackmailed and Annie calls him selfish. Jeff responds by telling Annie the same thing. They have both been told now that they are projecting, and they will either reflect on the reasons for their projections internally and make a breakthrough, or continue projecting.

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Annie flees the confrontation with Jeff and heads for the bathroom. She invites Shirley to go with her, but Shirley suggests that Britta try lowering her mask and connecting with Annie instead. Britta comes in behind Annie and Annie is dismayed at first, assuming that she will not be able to make a connection through Britta’s usual mask. Britta puts on the mask she thinks Annie needs and parrots Annie’s sentiment, but still does not make a connection until she allows herself to make a non-masked response. Annie has a breakthrough and will stop projecting.

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Jeff has apparently had his own breakthrough off screen, and he has come to the gymnasium to stop Troy from pursuing the dream of football into which he was manipulated by Jeff. Troy is chanting with the rest of the team “Human Beings! Human Beings!” and is quieted by Jeff. Troy interrupts Jeff’s speech and reveals that he too has been wearing a mask this whole time. Troy hurt himself on purpose to get out of football in high school, because he could not take the pressure of what would come after. He reveals his realization to Jeff by telling Jeff what he should do “you should try accepting where you’re at, man. Take a pottery class or something.” Throughout the scene, Jeff has been standing next to the poster of himself which he had been tearing down through the rest of the episode, but he leaves the poster untouched, now accepting where he is at as a student of Greendale.

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Having both had breakthroughs, Jeff and Annie rejoin to apologize to one another. The finished product of Pierce and the dean’s work shows up. It is a human being who is all persona and can neither talk nor hear. It must be led around based on the whims of others, just as Jung warned. Jeff and Annie embrace out of aversion to this type of human being.

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When I first saw this episode, I got hung up on the racism aspect and tried to apply that to everything else, and I did not see it for the metaphor it is. Another aspect of the episode I enjoyed was that it has its own anima and animus in its two main stories, and the episode allows the viewer to find the balance between the two in their reactions to them.

Episode 1 Analysis

Episode 2 Analysis

Episode 3 Analysis

Episode 4 Analysis

Episode 5 Analysis

Episode 6 Analysis

Episode 7 Analysis