William Winger: So, er, how about we make a couple of ground rules.
Jeff: Okay, that sounds good. No hugs.
William: Wouldn't want one. No apologies.
Jeff: Wouldn't accept one. No calling you dad.
William: No expectations.No one in the study group is looking forward to Thanksgiving much. Jeff has finally gotten in contact with his father William (James Brolin) and has consequently agreed to spend that day with William and his half-brother, William Jr (Adam DeVine). What is an emotionally complex and difficult situation by itself is not made easier by Britta taking it upon herself to crash the get-together in order to provide psychological support for Jeff.Meanwhile, the rest of the study group — otherwise facing a series of miserable, tense and lonely holidays either by themselves or with disapproving family — eagerly accept Shirley's invitation to spend the holiday with her extended family, only to discover that Shirley's in-laws are completely insufferable people. As they attempt to find a way of extracting themselves from the party without hurting Shirley's feelings, Abed decides that the best way to do this would be through an extended homage to The Shawshank Redemption.Has a YMMV page
The Community episode "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations" provides examples of:
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Britta is apparently under the belief that Jeff wishes to sleep with his dad. Which is not even correct in Freudian theory. In actuality, the phallic stage of psychosexual development is believed to deal with a sexual fixation for the parent of the opposite sex (i.e. the Oedipus/Electra Complex).
- Britta may be referring to Genetic Sexual Attraction, a phenomenon psychiatrists have noted in relatives who have not met until later in life, after the Westermarck Effect (which causes one to not be attracted to those with whom one was raised) would normally have set in.
- Always Someone Better: Jeff's half-brother spends a large part of the day comparing himself to Jeff, and another large part beating himself up over said comparisons.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: This exchange, although it's more like "arson, jaywalking and murder".Britta: Psychology tells us there are no accidents.
Jeff: Oh, yeah? What about car accidents, Tara Reid and the Hindenberg?
- Attention Whore: Played for drama. Jeff reveals how in seventh grade he faked appendicitis so that someone will worry about him. He even faked a scar with scissors and he still keeps the cards he received under his bed to prove that someone, at some point, cared about him.
- Blackface: Pierce does is this as part of his entertainment.
- Book Safe: Abed passes Annie a stick of gum in one.
- Brick Joke:
- Shirley's in-laws' ideas about Batman and Robin.
- Jeff feeds Britta's line about feeling a strong urge, and it being normal, back to her.
- Shirley discovers Abed's tunnel behind the poster.
- Broken Ace: How Jeff describes himself.
Dean: How-Dean, pilgrims!Jeff (pointing at the outfit): Is that-Dean: John Wayne? Why, yes!Britta: When I say 'Thera-' you say '-pist' Thera!Troy and Abed:-Pist!Britta: Thera!Jeff turns off the boombox.
- Britta has an Occupy Greendale sticker on her boombox.
- Shirley dons the "He Is Risen" apron she wore to Troy and Abed's housewarming party.
- Britta's attraction towards damaged guys comes back this episode.
- The Siete Layer Dip is branded from Senor Kevin's restaurant.
- Britta asks Jeff if their conversation about his father on Halloween caused him to make contact.
- Jeff reveals whom he is constantly texting: nobody.
- Shirley hums "Daybreak" in The Tag.
- The Dean is wearing Jeff's cowboy outfit from Season 1's Halloween episode and Season 2's paintball episode. Jeff notices.
- Calling the Old Man Out: After years without closure, Jeff finally gets to do this to his father at the end of the episode.
- Captivity Harmonica: Pierce plays one.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Jeff explains Troy's marshmallow casserole.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: Troy's mistaken idea of a marshmallow casserole. Compare to his casserole in "Curriculum Unavailable".
- Crazy-Prepared: When Jeff reveals that he'll be spending Thanksgiving with his father Britta takes this as a win and pulls out a boombox prepared to rap about her psychology skillz.Jeff: You had that teed up?
- False Cause: Jeff is quick to accuse Britta of making a "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" error when she credits their Halloween conversation with inspiring him to contact his father. Of course, he is almost certainly lying.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- "Thanks again for watching" is written on the whiteboard behind Annie and Shirley.
- The back of the Dean's Thanks-living potluck dinner shirt reads, "Add to the spread, not the dead!"
- Funny Background Event: Watch when Abed comes back from interacting with Shirley's family and Troy is lifting a one-pound weight. When Troy is pulled away Abed takes his place at the bench, but can't lift up the weight. So he sits with it between his knees.
- Glorified Sperm Donor: A twist. Jeff's dad puts himself on this pedestal and credits Jeff's success and self-reliance to himself for leaving. Jeff tells him to go to hell.
- Hidden Depths: Jeff recounts a story of lying to his seventh grade friends about having an appendicitis just so that people would worry about him. When a fellow student calls him on his lie, Jeff cut his stomach with a pair of scissors to make a scar.
- Informed Flaw: We are told that Shirley's in-laws are a bunch of opinionated, obnoxious jerks but all we are shown is her father-in-law farting when introduced to the study group, and some offscreen accusations of Batman and Robin being gay.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: "Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, including you, Dean."
- No Periods, Period: Averted when Annie tries to fake hers as an excuse to leave. Unfortunately for her, Andre's sister is a gynecologist.
- Not So Different: Annie, Troy, Abed & Pierce spend the majority of the episode hiding in Shirley's garage, because they don't like having to socialise with Shirley's in-laws for various reasons. Eventually, Shirley's in-laws sneak into the garage to hide from Pierce.
- Offscreen Crash: Acts as a Offscreen Moment of Awesome for Pierce, since his physical comedy goes over well with Shirley's in-laws.
- Person as Verb: "Brittaing" is referenced when Jeff says to Britta, "You really you-ed this one up."
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Jeff's dad abandoning his family really did a number on him.
- Playing Sick: Annie's and Pierce's escape attempts (menstrual cramps and breaking a hip, respectively). Both failed (One of Shirley's in-laws is a gynecologist who can examine Annie, and everyone just finds Pierce's stumbling funny).
- Prematurely Bald: Jeff is reassured by his father's full head of hair.
- Prison Episode
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Troy worries that jail will make him get into pushups.
- Racist Grandpa: Pierce, of course. Black Friday versus "Jew Friday", "Let's carve that jive turkey!", and asking a woman if she is Tyler Perry in drag.
- Rake Take: Pierce is looking to do one.
- Rebuilt Pedestal: Subverted. Jeff's interactions with his father seems to be heading this way until William says that maybe him abandoning Jeff has made Jeff into the man he is today. Then Jeff tells his father to go to Hell.
- Self-Harm: Jeff, as mentioned.
- Pierce falling all over the place and it being funny is a reference to Saturday Night Live.
- John Wayne: "How-Dean, pilgrims!"
- Tyler Perry in drag.
- Twins: Willy Jr. calls Jeff "Schwarzenegger" and himself "DeVito".
- The Shawshank Redemption, including Captivity Harmonica and Book Safe.
- Showtime at the Apollo
- Prison Break
- "Cats in the Cradle" (a song about a boy who turned out like his distant father).
- In The Stinger, Abed hopes they do Die Hard for Christmas.
- Take Our Word for It: Troy narates Pierce's attemp at faking a broken hip.
- Take That!:
- "car accidents, Tara Reid, or the Hindenburg"
- Jock Jams
- Thanksgiving Episode
- Vanity License Plate: William Winger has a "WINGINIT" plate on his classic Mercedes.
- "With All Due Respect: which is none, go to hell." - Jeff to his father.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Abed is so focused on making the experience fit the framework of a Prison Movie that he fails to realize that it's actually just a basic Thanksgiving Episode.