Community 1x04: “Social Psychology”
Chang is in the classroom leading the class in Spanish recitation. He has them say “we speak” and “to speak” in Spanish, while he writes the words on the board unintelligibly. Everyone hears what he is saying, but they are unable to read it or make further sense of it. In the scene, Chang never reveals the translations of these words. Everyone is parroting what he says, but we are not sure if anyone knows what anyone else is actually saying.
Outside, Shirley attempts to connect with Jeff, but Jeff dodges her and joins Britta. Jeff says he can not bear to hear her say “ooh, that’s nice” while they walk across campus. Jeff has shown that he has been hearing what she says, but he has not been listening, engaging, or understanding. Jeff walks and talks with Britta across campus, and they talk about friendship. Jeff says that the sign of a true friend is talking with no awkward pauses and that he and Britta have just done so for 100 yards. She points out that it is great he is not hitting on her anymore, and an awkward pause emerges as they part ways. But before they parted, the two encounter Vaughan, whom Britta is in a relationship with for this episode. Jeff follows his first impulse to make fun of Vaughan and thus begins to push Britta away from himself. Vaughan represents the super ego and Shirley represents the id in this episode. At present, Jeff is taking in information from both of them but not consciously listening to either, and Britta is gravitating toward the super ego. This will be expanded on by other characters later.
Annie begs Professor Duncan to allow her to be in his Duncan Principle experiment before she is ready, and he agrees (it is usually open to second year students only). Pierce arrives with a package containing “ear-noculars” which he wears along with his bluetooth so that he can hear things other people are not supposed to hear, however he is overextending his hearing and begins to misunderstand which conversations are public and which are private, and begins to interpret everything on a higher level of revealing secrets in others. Annie approaches the group about being in the Duncan Principle experiment. Troy talks himself into it, while Abed declines because he wants to watch the Indiana Jones trilogy. Annie tells him that they are really good friends and he accepts both this statement and the request to be in the experiment. Jeff sees that Vaughan is talking to Britta and connecting with her, so he interrupts their conversation, hears what Vaughan says about coffee versus green tea, and contradicts what he says openly.
We join Annie with Professor Duncan and the other observers, watching the subjects in the Duncan Principle experiment. Professor Duncan explains the Duncan Principle as “The more control lost by the ego, the more gained by the id, resulting in a surprisingly predictable emotional eruption or breaking point.” In the classic Looney Tunes model of psychoanalysis, the devil on Daffy Duck’s shoulder represents the id and the angel on Daffy Duck’s other shoulder represents the super ego, while Daffy in the middle represents the ego, deciding which to listen to or to weigh their inputs equally and follow a median path. What Professor Duncan has not accounted for in his principle is the super ego. Here Annie and the observers are the id and the room full of subjects is the ego, but lying in the subconscious is the super ego played by Abed. The id may overtake the ego and drive it to a tantrum, but the super ego still remains present. Addressing our pop culture reference, Abed is Indy and we join him mid adventure (mid experiment) as in the beginning of all the films. Indy is always betrayed by someone he trusted or chose to work with in the films, here Indy is betrayed by his friend Annie when she misrepresents the experiment and their friendship. When Troy leaves, Abed is the only one left and the observes now become the ego, consumed by id examining but not listening to or engaging the super ego and eventually being driven mad as a result of this communication imbalance.
Jeff rejoins Shirley, but is trying to accept Vaughan and disengages her when she beings to make fun of Vaughan. He says that he is “trying to be a good friend to Britta…. I’m gonna show her that I am not the jerk she thinks I am and friend the hell out of that green tea drinking drum circler.” He is attempting to force himself to befriend Vaughan and disengage Shirley as a result. He is also trying to use friendship as an action rather than actually listening to Vaughan and letting a relationship grow.
The new ego of the observers consumed by id begins to attack itself and disbands in an emotional break. Annie allows Abed to leave the experiment finally, when she is told by Professor Duncan that she has ruined the Duncan Principle (she has exposed that the super ego exists).
Jeff thinks that he is truly trying to connect with and examine the super ego in Vaughan, but he is not listening still, only hearing the talk. Shirley shows up and attempts to incite Jeff to make fun of and dismiss Vaughan again, she succeeds to an extent and Jeff proclaims “you’re the devil,” naming her as the id that she represents.
Jeff practices Spanish with Britta, they are talking but they are not communicating because one is not understanding the other. Britta asks Jeff to examine Vaughan further and reveals that she has become intimate with him, but that she worries he is over thinking things more than she is (her super ego is outweighing her id, manifesting here as sexual desire). She reveals Vaughan’s poetry and Jeff copies it to make fun of it with Shirley in private. They tear apart his words without looking at the underlying sentiment. Pierce hears them with his augmented hearing and misinterprets what they are talking about.
Troy apologizes to Annie for ruining the experiment, and Annie reveals that the waiting was the experiment. She confronts Abed about ruining the experiment, and he reveals in a dead pan manner that he was livid for the 26 hours he sat in the room. She asks why he did not just leave and complete the experiment (super ego surrendering to the id), and he says it was because she asked him to stay and had said that they are friends (because they need to be in balance, not one over the other, but they are not communicating properly). This defeats Annie’s rage. Jeff and Shirley enter, still making fun of Vaughan. Pierce reveals to the group his misconceptions about Jeff and Shirley’s subject, he extrapolates their mockery of the super ego onto the group (he takes personally Jeff’s inner struggle). Shirley mocks Vaughan’s speech patterns and then passes his poem around for everyone to mock. They mock Vaughan openly as he enters and drive Vaughan away. Outside, Shirley reveals herself to Jeff as the id “I have a gossip problem, I stir the pot, Jeff, I’m a pot stirrer.” Jeff tells Shirley that they can not make fun of people anymore, but that they can still hang out. Jeff is starting to seek a balance in his subconscious. Shirley brings up dream analysis, mentioning that Britta has had a sex dream about Jeff. Britta after engaging with her super ego is attempting to reconnect with her id, but still only subconsciously.
Annie comes to Abed and apologizes by giving him the Indiana Jones trilogy, she is saying she understands what he is about and is giving him what he represents so that they may be in balance. Jeff finds out Britta is no longer with Vaughan and asks if he can remain her friend but not need to hear about her id (guys she dates) anymore. He mentions the sexy dream though and Britta expresses a frustration with Shirley (the id).
Outside, we see Vaughan who is now out of sync and tells the rest of the hacky sack group that there are “some worries, man, some worries” as we see Shirley and Britta giggling together, Britta is now falling out of sync and following her id closer than her super ego, she has no balance once again.
Jeff asks Pierce for his ear-noculars so that he may spy on Britta and her id, but Pierce says that he has gotten rid of it and explains “see, Jeff, there’s certain things man was not meant to hear. We were designed by whatever entity you choose, to hear whatever’s in this range, and really this range alone. ‘Cus you know who’s talking to us in this range? The people we love.” Pierce explains that the id/super ego balance in the ego is the responsibility of the individual and that we need to talk on the surface level with and listen to the people we love. Pierce has become Jeff’s super ego and his former actions of spying on and misinterpreting everything had been showing Jeff’s actions of attempting to analyze Britta’s super ego rather than his own. The way to link the seemingly subconscious ephemera to the conscious is through speech, this is the goal of the talking treatment and word association of Freud and his school of psychoanalysis. Britta brings up Jeff’s silver tongue at the beginning and Jeff says “I’m at my best during high speed bursts of wit,” he also talked about filling all of the silences with talk. He is leaving no room for introspection or listening and is not taking the time to weigh the id and the super ego’s input before speaking, he is out of balance. But he hears Pierce’s words and contemplates them before dismissing them with a quip to no one but himself.
Episode 1 Analysis
Episode 2 Analysis
Episode 3 Analysis
Episode 4 Analysis
Episode 5 Analysis
Episode 6 Analysis
Episode 7 Analysis