Recap: Community S1 E21: Contemporary American Poultry

"As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be in a Mafia movie."

The most popular — and only edible — food in the Greendale campus cafeteria is the fried chicken fingers. Unfortunately, this means they're also frequently sold out before our heroes can get any to eat, and it doesn't help that Starburns, the cafeteria fry-cook, always holds some back to give to his friends to try increase his popularity. Jeff has decided that this is unacceptable, and convinces his friends to help him get Starburns fired and Abed hired as his replacement in order to make sure they get some.

Abed, however, has decided to view this scheme through the lens of a mafia movie, and is soon the mastermind of an underground network of chicken finger smuggling, elevating the social status of the study group as everyone desperately tries to curry favour in order to secure the precious food. However, this means that Jeff is gradually becoming dislodged from his position as group leader, and as the other members of the group become increasingly spoiled and arrogant with their newfound status it increasingly looks like the higher they rise, the harder the inevitable fall will be...

Now has a "Your Mileage May Vary" page

The Community episode "Contemporary American Poultry" provides examples of:

  • An Aesop:
    Abed: You know what they'll never make a replacement for? Friends.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Mafia movies; primarily Goodfellas, but The Godfather also gets a few nods.
  • Almighty Janitor: Turns out that the cafeteria fry-cook could control the entire school by controlling the supply of chicken fingers.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Don't take Godfather!Abed for granted. He'll destroy your new backpack, release your monkey, put gum in your hair, disconnect the AV system and feed the guy you like chicken fingers.
  • Big Red Button: Jeff threatens to invoke this when he feels everything's got out of control.
  • Clothing Switch: The twist of Abed and Troy's "awesome elevator" trick in The Tag.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : Abed has always wanted to be in a Mafia movie.
  • Dramatic Irony: Jeff tries to convince Abed to go along with his plan by saying that he would get the most important job of all, the fry cook. Abed voices his doubts about it being the most important. But as the rest of the episode proves, it really was.
  • Drunk with Power: The study group gets increasingly spoiled and obnoxious the more powerful they get. Curiously enough, however, Abed himself seems more Drunk With Actually Getting To Connect With People For Once.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Annie's Boobs.
    Jeff: Why do you have a monkey?
    Troy: It's an animal that looks like a dude, why don't I have ten of them?
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Abed's methods of teaching the study group to respect and fear him.
  • Framing Device: The whole episode turns out to be Abed relating the story to Dean Pelton after being asked about missing hairnets.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Jeff is gradually unseated as group leader by Abed. He is not happy about this.
    Jeff: You want a shot at the Jeff Winger throne? You better bring a powerful ass!
  • Hypocrite: The entire study group in this episode. They put Starburns out of a legitimate job for abusing it and then do exactly what he did, never recognizing their own wrongdoing.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Although the study group are getting spoiled, obnoxious and blinded with ambition thanks to Abed's control of the chicken wings, they are nevertheless accurate in pointing out that Jeff's opposition to Abed stems more from jealousy over being unseated as group leader than from concern for Abed. Jeff eventually concedes to the point when he admits that he was planning to sabotage the fryer and remove Abed's power.
  • The Mafia: The study group becomes the community-college-chicken-finger-running equivalent thereof.
  • Only Sane Man: It's partly fuelled by jealousy over being eclipsed by Abed, but Jeff's the only one to realize that the chicken-finger mafia syndicate is going way over the top.
  • Overly Long Gag: Lampshaded:
    Troy: He released Annie's Boobs! Annie's Boobs could be anywhere! Annie's Boobs could be on the side of the road
    Shirley: [Fed up] We get it! The monkey's name is "Annie's Boobs".
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Abed states that Law & Order just started an arc about a lawyer with a fake degree—total ripoff of Jeff.
  • Serious Business: Greendale runs on chicken fingers.
  • Scandalgate: The school newspaper has a headline which reads "Star-Gate!"note  and the subhead, "Headline in reference to Watergate, not the 1994 sci-fi film."
  • Shout-Out: Lots to Goodfellas and other Mafia movies.
    • Lampshaded at the end; when Jeff and Abed decide to make up over a plate of chicken fingers, Abed eagerly asks whether they can eat them in a similar fashion to Sixteen Candles:
    Jeff: Pick one reference, Abed.
    Abed: Sixteen Candles!
    • The scandal involving Starburns is called "Star-Gate".
    • "He's gone from lovable Johnny Five to evil HAL. (to Pierce) Not Hal Holbrook."
  • A Simple Plan: Played with, in that Jeff's seemingly straightforward plan (get Starburns fired, get Abed hired as fry cook, get assured supply of chicken fingers) actually goes off flawlessly; however, Abed's Genre Savvy application of Mafia movie tropes ends up making the plan increasingly complicated and spirals out of (Jeff's) control anyway.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: As Jeff says once the study group's plan pays off: "To victory: it feels unfamiliar, but it tastes like chicken."
  • Totally Radical: Pierce tries to start "streets ahead." Nobody really knows what it means.
    • But if you don't know what it means, you're streets behind.
  • Very Special Episode: Mentioned by Abed, but averted.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Primarily Goodfellas.