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Recap / Community S1 E02: Spanish 101

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In Spanish Class the students pair off to do a oral presentation involving simple Spanish phrases. Jeff's attempt to be paired with Britta backfires when he finds himself partnered with Pierce instead — and Pierce's unorthodox presentation ideas threaten to drive a wedge between them. Meanwhile the ladies in the study group get into activism to raise interest about freedom of speech in Guatemala — however, Britta finds that Annie and Shirley have much different ideas about activism to her.

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The Community episode "Spanish 101" provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Pierce's play is entitled "Two Conquistadors".
  • Artistic License – Geography: The cards Chang hands out in Spanish class have the Italian flag on one side.
    • Could be foreshadowing the fact that Chang is not in fact a Spanish Genius.
  • Big Man on Campus: Jeff's introduction in this episode definitely plays on this trope.
  • Broken Pedestal: Britta, for Annie and Shirley. They arrange their protest because they're inspired by her commitment to social justice and want to impress her, only to realize when Britta objects to their protest being "lame" that her commitment is largely for appearances.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: In universe: in their protest, Annie and Shirley decide to commemorate a murdered Guatemalan journalist... with a pinata. Britta is not happy.
    Britta: You guys realize he was beaten to death, right?
    Shirley: That's where we got the idea from.
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  • Destined Bystander: Star-Burns is first mentioned by nickname in this episode.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Within the first minute of meeting him, Chang shows the study group (and the audience) just how crazy he is with his rant ("I AM A SPANISH GENIUS!").
  • F--
    Chang: (points to Pierce) F. (points to Jeff) F Minus.
    Pierce: What? Did you say 'S'?
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Chang seems awfully desperate to convince everyone that he's a "Spanish genius."
    • Pierce doesn't adequately answer his own question, "What's the moist towelette business like?"
  • Funny Background Event: Pierce misspells Israel as Isreal and appears to misspell Palestine as Palestain on the blackboard in the study room.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Chevy's section of the opening credits cootie-catcher has a drawing of a woman with bare breasts. The censors caught this later on and his drawings were changed to lips and "eyeballs" for the next episode.
  • Global Currency Exception: Jeff tries to bribe Abed with $50, but Abed instead wants his shirt.
  • Hipster: Britta's dismissal of Annie and Shirley's protest on the grounds that it is "lame" clearly pegs her as the kind of hipster who uses social justice causes as an excuse to feel cool and better than everyone else, as Shirley clearly points out.
  • Hypocrite: Britta is forced to confront the fact that, while Shirley and Annie's protest fundraiser is undeniably cheesy, it's still more than she's ever managed to accomplish despite all her self-righteous posturing about various social issues, and her objections to them are ultimately superficial and hollow. It doesn't help that, after dismissing their protest as "lame", she immediately tries to weasel out of it by playing the "I'm upset because I care so deeply" card. Her frequent accusations and condemnations of Jeff as being a phony are thus also blunted by the fact that, because of this, she's little better. This is probably why she goes easy on Jeff after Pierce reveals that he's only at the fundraiser to try and seduce her; it's not like she's got much room to criticise someone else for supporting a cause for phony reasons.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Pierce: You know, Jeff, you can't pursue people so desperately; it starts to creep them out. (pause) What don't we go get a beer, I'll give you some advice, and we can have what the kids are calling a sausage fest?
  • Inscrutable Oriental: Chang rants about this trope in class.
  • Large Ham: Jeff
  • Lying to the Perp:
    Dean over P.A.: To whoever is growing a small patch of cannabis behind the gymnasium, congratulations, you have won a cruise. Report to Security to claim your tickets.
  • Man on Fire: Pierce.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Pierce and Jeff turn a five sentence long conversation assignment into an epic saga with props, songs, dance and multiple costume changes. They get blank stares from everyone except an obviously impressed Abed.
    Chang: These are short conversations, they're not supposed to take-
    Jeff: Your breath away?
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: The Tag. Here's a link.
  • Schmuck Bait: On the episode opening PA announcement:
    Whoever is growing a small patch of cannibis behind the gymnasium: Congratulations! You have won a cruise. Report to security to claim your tickets.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Chang.
  • Spoiler: invoked
    Britta: Believe me, everyday in that country people are being killed for speaking out, and the worst part is when it's all over—
    Abed: Spoilers!
    Britta: —it's going to be as if it never even happened. Hey Abed, real stories—they don't have spoilers. You understand that TV and life are different? Right?
  • Soapbox Sadie: Britta, much to the admiration of Annie and Shirley. It backfires, however, since Annie and Shirley plan their protest / fundraiser because they're impressed by her only to discover that she's mostly talk and no action.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Aimee Mann's somber "Wise Up" (which was in the movie Magnolia and is about choosing to either face your personal problems or give up on ever resolving them) plays over Jeff and Pierce's Spanish surreal presentation, complete with robots, blackface, Mexican puppets, and silly string.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Abed really gets Pierce and Jeff's presentation. No one else does.
  • Strawman U: The entire candle light vigil/silent protest subplot.
    Shirley: I never went to a real college; I want to be political.
  • Subject 101: Spanish 101.
  • Trope Overdosed:
    Chang: Every once in a while, a student will come up to me and ask, 'Señor Chang, why do you teach Spanish?' They say it just like that. 'Why do you teach Spanish?' (Beat) 'Why YOU? Why not math? Why not photography? Why not martial arts?' I mean, surely, it must be in my nature to instruct you in something that's ancient and secret, like, oh, building a wall that you can see from outer space. Well, I tell you why I teach Spanish: it's none of your business, OK? And I don't want to have any conversations about what a mysterious, inscrutable man I am. Oh heehee, oh huh huh. I am a Spanish genius! In español, my nickname is El Tigre Chino.
  • Watch It for the Meme: Those of you looking for the Spanish Rap? It's in the end credits.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Shirley and Annie quite accurately peg the hypocrisy in Britta's objection to their protest about Guatemala:
    Annie: [Outraged] Britta, are you saying that we're not allowed to protest?!
    Shirley: Sounds like someone has a case of 'likes to use fringe politics to be make themselves feel special but doesn't ever want to actually do anything'... itis.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The episode ends with Abed and Troy rapping in Spanish. The song includes such statements as "The goat's mustache is Cameron Diaz".
  • You Need a Breath Mint
    Abed: Conflicts like this will ultimately bring us together as an unlikely family.
    Troy: You have horrible breath right now.


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