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Recap / Community S1 E15: Romantic Expressionism

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Annie starts dating Vaughn, and both Britta and Jeff attempt to derail this nascent relationship. Meanwhile the rest of the studygroup and Chang have a movie night to do some good old-fashioned MSTing.

The Community episode "Romantic Expressionism" provides examples of:

  • Both Sides Have a Point: As to whether or not Annie dating Vaughn is a good idea. Jeff makes the apt point that she is The Baby of the Bunch and if she dates an older guy, it potentially makes her prey to the creeps on campus. Not helped by Starburns saying he wants to date Annie next. Annie, of course, has a legitimate point that Britta and Jeff aren't her parents, and they can't dictate what she does or who she does because she's an adult and has to learn to make her own mistakes after leaving rehab. Jeff concedes on seeing how hurt Annie is by his and Britta's actions.
  • Call-Back:
  • Berate and Switch: Troy when learning that Abed is planning to watch Kickpuncher.
    Troy: You watching another movie in your dorm tonight?
    Abed: Kickpuncher starring Don "The Demon" Donaldson as a cyborg cop whose punches have the power of kicks.
    Troy: That sounds awful. Beat. I'll bring the popcorn.
  • Brick Joke: Jeff remarks that since Vaughn never wears a shirt, he's surprised that Vaughn hasn't died from lack of service. Later, Vaughn mentions that he was delayed getting served because they made him put on a shirt.
  • The Bro Code: Annie's only concern on dating Vaughn is that he and Britta were together. While Britta's main concern over the relationship is Annie being The Baby of the Bunch, she later lashes out that a part of her is annoyed at Annie for choosing to date an ex-boyfriend of hers.
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  • Cast Incest: Invoked by Abed.
    Abed: When you guys first came in, we were as wholesome as the family in The Brady Bunch. Now we’re as dysfunctional and incestuous as the cast of The Brady Bunch.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Vaughn calls Shirley "that Sherri Shepard lady."
  • Crack Pairing: In-Universe. "Romantic Expressionism" parodies this with a long sequence of Ship Tease suggestive glances between all of the characters. In order, it goes: Pierce/Shirley, Jeff/Britta, Abed/Britta, Britta (gasp!)/Annie (gasp!), Troy/Shirley, Troy/Annie, Pierce/Annie, Jeff/Annie, Jeff/Abed.
  • Designated Parents: Jeff and Britta.
    Britta: I guess we feel like we're sort of all a family, and Jeff and I are like your Greendale parents.
    Annie: You're not my mom, Britta. She would never wear boots that go up that high.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe example.
    Pierce: Directed by Kim Yang. Asian. Can't direct, can't drive.
    Chang: Dude, I'm right here.
  • Failed Future Forecast:
    Kickpuncher Narrator: It is the year 2006 A.D. and nuclear war has ravaged the planet.
    Abed: Must have missed that.
  • Fan Film: In-universe example — Kickpuncher with Abed and Troy.
  • Fight Scene Failure: Invoked with the incredibly cheesy film that the study group watches on their movie night, "Kickpuncher". Even more so in the Fan Film Abed and Troy make.
  • Foreshadowing:
    Jeff: [Annie] is 18. Her taste in men hasn't been established. Creepier and creepier dudes will start thinking of her as an option, and it all starts with Vaughn. He’s a gateway douchebag.
    Starburns: See that guy over there? (Points across the cafeteria to Jeff) Yeah, he's a douchebag.
  • Glad You Thought of It: Jeff explains this gambit to Britta:
    Jeff: Crash course in manipulation. You don't actually tell the person what you want them to do. You help them realize they want to do it, so it can't be traced back to you.

  • Held Gaze: During the Ship Tease "suggestive glances" scene at the study table, Jeff holds Annie's gaze for a long moment with an expression of tenderness and contentment in his face. Annie notices his stare and looks back, melting a little under his adoring stare before Jeff breaks it.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Troy and Abed, as per usual. Troy refers to Abed as 'my other half', and Annie says that one time Troy tried to hold her hand... when he mistook her for Abed.
  • Hypocrite: As everyone immediately points out, Pierce's condemnation of the group's snide dismissals of someone else's creative works would probably carry a lot more weight if it weren't immediately obvious that he was just sulking and lashing out because no one else laughed at his snide dismissals of someone else's creative works.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: In the Show Within a Show Kickpuncher:
    Woman: You've done so much for our city, Kickpuncher; is there anything we can give you?
    Kickpuncher: Don't call me Kickpuncher... call me... David.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Pierce: You don't feel good about yourselves so you have tear down everything around you. What's the matter? Mama Chang didn't breastfeed?
    Chang: (sad face) She read in a book that it wouldn't make a difference.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Said word for word by Chang when Pierce mentioned the Asian Drivers above.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Hinted by the tag; while everyone rightly dismisses Pierce's criticism of their MSTing as being motivated more by sour grapes at failing to get a laugh with his own contributions than anything else, Troy and Abed end up deciding to make their own Kickpuncher fan video rather than just sit back snidely criticising movies other people have made, suggesting they've decided that Pierce may have had a point regardless.
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: Abed, In-Universe, during his and Troy's version of the Kickpuncher movie. He played the Big Bad Punchkicker, his (three) Mooks, and The Hero's Love Interest.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Jeff is into Britta. Britta used to date Vaughn. Vaughn takes an interest in Annie who has been in love with Troy. Troy dates another girl but Britta and Jeff convince him to pursue Annie romantically. The group also discuss their status of True Companions — they're as close as a family, but they are not actually a family which means romantic and sexual relationships are not off the table.
  • The Matchmaker: Attempted. Jeff and Britta try to manipulate Annie into being interested in Troy, who is closer to her age, a Nice Guy, and her first crush. It doesn't work because Annie has decided to move on from an unrequited crush and doesn't want her friends parenting her.
  • Matzo Fever: Troy is particularly impressed with Annie who is Jewish.
  • MSTing: Abed and Troy apparently have a tradition of doing this to horrendous B-movies; Shirley, Pierce, and Señor Chang show up, too. (And yet Jeff, played by the one cast member who had guest starred on RiffTrax, does NOT show up.) Pierce attempts to compensate for his lack of ability at this by writing his jokes with a team of writers beforehand, like the actual Mystery Science Theater 3000 did after its first season.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Jeff really did eat all the macaroni. It's messed up that Leonard knows.
    • For a less literal example, it is never explained exactly why Chang was wearing a tuxedo.
  • Offhand Backhand: Troy punches Abed this way in The Tag.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Used by Abed and Troy in The Tag.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Jeff and Britta want to break up Annie and Vaughn. They know that Annie has been in love with Troy, so they tell Troy that Annie is only dating Vaughn to make Troy jealous. He believes them but it's not actually true as Annie's interest in him is sincere.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: How Pierce tries to compensate for his failure to perform on the first MSTing night.
    Pierce: Change! Time to change the channel! This guy'll be begging for change soon, he keeps making movies this terrible! We should change to something good, this movie stinks! We should change his diaper. That's change we can believe in!
    Abed: [Hits pause] Okay, it's obvious something strange is happening here.
    Pierce: What are you talking about? I'm making jokes during a movie.
    Troy: Yeah, but you're doing it with the speed and determination of the incomparable Robin Williams.
  • Rule of Three: Annie and Troy yelling at Jeff and Britta leads up to the abovementioned Leonard.
  • Sarcasm Mode:
    • Courtesy of Senor Chang:
      Chang: Obviously none of my other plans fell through. (motions toward his tuxedo)
    • Annie points it out to her pals:
      Annie: Hey guys thanks for getting involved in my love life! That was super cool and mature of you! Oh and since you're both clearly idiots, I should let you know that I'm being sarcastic!
  • Serenade Your Lover: Vaughn plays the guitar and sings a song he wrote for Annie.
  • Ship Sinking: Pierce/Everyone Else, played for laughs:
    Pierce: So, just to be clear... I don't have a shot with any of you?
    [Everyone else shudders audibly and hurries away from him.]
  • Ship Tease:
    • Jeff's jealousy over Annie's sudden interest in Vaughn.
    • In The Tag, Troy asks if Britta couldn't play the love interest in his & Abed's Kickpuncher film before they go to film the sex scene.
    • All in the scene lampshading the show's various potential (And completely insane) couples:
    • According to Troy, Jeff was "weirdly specific" when describing Annie's body. Jeff & Annie both take offence to the other saying that their kiss in "Debate 109" was purely for winning the debate & not sexual at all.
    • Jeff notes that Troy was also specific when describing Britta's body.
    • Shirley comments on "Troy & Abed's weird relationship" which prompts a simultaneous "They're just jealous" from both of them, complete with hand holding.
  • Shipping Torpedo: Jeff and Britta's main arc in the episode is splitting Annie and Vaughn up.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Downplayed. Pierce proclaims himself to be "younger than the three of you [Shirley, Abed, Troy] put together". Abed, Troy, and Pierce himself then get thoughtful looks on their faces, clearly attempting to work out if what he said is literally true.
  • Slippery Slope Fallacy: Jeff thinks that Annie would be more attractive to douchebags by dating Vaughn, the "gateway douchebag".
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When his second attempt at making the group laugh while MSTing ends in failure, Pierce lambasts them for snidely making fun of the creative endeavors of others rather than attempting to create anything of their own and using mockery to compensate for their own lack of self-worth. The group immediately calls bullshit, accurately pointing out that Pierce doesn't give a damn about defending the creativity of others and is just sour that he couldn't get a laugh.
  • Squick: In-universe. Starburns commenting that Annie "just made the the top of [his] To Do List" elicits this response from Britta and Jeff, and is ultimately what leads to Britta trying to split up Annie and Vaughn.
  • Strangely Arousing
    Troy: I have the weirdest boner right now.
  • Stylistic Suck: The lyrics of Vaughn's love song are absolutely dreadful.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Jeff and Britta make this happen for Troy.
    Troy: Thanks for taking ugly Annie out of the palm of my hand, and turning her into another hottie WHO WILL NEVER GET WITH ME!
  • Zany Scheme:
    Jeff: If we say we disapprove, we'll just drive her further into his hemp-braceleted arms. We need to be smart, we need to hatch a scheme.
    Britta: Mmm... hatching schemes' not really my wheelhouse.
    Jeff: Let's not confine ourselves to your wheelhouse. This problem won't respond to tap dancing or casual revelations that you spent time in New York.