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Recap / Community S1 E17: Physical Education

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Jeff: Are you gonna talk about clothes like girls or are you gonna use tapered sticks to hit colored balls around a cushioned table, like a man?
Bogner: Balls, like a man!

Jeff learns a life lesson when he joins a pool class. The rest of the study group helps Abed out when they find evidence he has a secret admirer.

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The Community episode "Physical Education" provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Abed uses a dead-on impersonation of Don Draper from Mad Men to hit on Annie, played by Alison Brie, who plays a recurring character on that show as well.
    • Also, Abed is half-Polish, half-Arab, similar to his actor, half-Polish, half-Indian.
  • An Aesop: Abed's self-confidence and willingness to change who he is so his friends can learn the lesson that he's okay as he is and superficial things don't matter inspires Jeff to kick ass at pool. In shorts.
  • Almost Kiss: Abed and Annie, when he shows off his Don Draper impression, only interrupted by the horrified reactions of everyone else.
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  • Awesome by Analysis: Abed plays pool at the end, and earlier he performs an impeccable impersonation of Jeff.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Jeff hates the clothes he has to wear to play pool. It's a gym class, so he has to wear short shorts and a white shirt.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Courtney, the girl who asks Jeff to introduce her to Abed after the pool game with Coach Bogner, is seen throughout the episode, sharing flirty glances with Jeff.
  • Be Yourself:
    • Played straight in regards to the gang learning to let Abed be himself. Parodied everytime Britta tries to pronounce "Bagel." The group mocks her mercilessly.
    • Parodied when the group advises Abed to do this to woo Jenny, and Abed rationalizes that he wouldn't go over there, only to do so when asked if there's a version of himself that would go over there, and they actively stop Abed from going over there. That version is a vampire. Or at least Abed thinks it might be.
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  • Blatant Lies: "Whoa! That's her?! She's pretty! Which... is not... a surprise at all."
  • Characterization Marches On: This episode is the start of Britta's evolution into the show's Butt-Monkey, as everyone makes fun of her for mispronouncing the word "bagel", as well as the first use of the phrase "you're the worst".
  • Chick Magnet: A lot of girls like Abed but he's used to them approaching him.
  • Cold Reading: Played for fun with Chang mimicking a Magical Asian, guessing the name of the female book owner via psychic powers. Then he reveals the name was written on the first page.
  • Covert Pervert: Everyone checks out Jeff as he disrobes. Once he's naked, everyone averts their eyes, except Annie. And the Dean, who takes out his camera-phone.
  • Cure Your Gays: Shirley suggests this if Abed's admirer is male.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Pierce is the only one in the group (besides Jeff) who realizes the full scope of what they are trying to do. When Abed asks if they are trying to change him because he isn't considered good enough as he is, Pierce is the only one who admits that's what he thinks. He's also the first one to admit that Jeff was right and that Abed was happy being himself.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Annie & the Dean are clearly enjoying Jeff's increasing lack of clothes. The Dean also takes pictures.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Señor Chang comments on this when everybody, including Annie, forgets to check the front cover of a schoolbook to see who owned it last. (She blames Britta's pronunciation of the word "bagel" as "baggel", saying it was distracting.)
  • Fanservice: Jeff strips naked to win a pool game.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Shirley telling Jeff to mind his own business while she and the group continue meddling in Abed's love life.
    • The group learns that they should accept Abed for who he is, then immediately after they continue to make fun of Britta saying "baggle."
    • Chang initially asks the Dean if he's going to stop Jeff & Coach Bogner's pool game after they strip to their underwear, only to start taking bets on the outcome less than a minute later.
    • Shirley refers to Joey as "White Abed" but says that referring to Abed as "Brown Joey" is racist.
  • I Told You So: Jeff doesn't scruple to shout it through cupped hands.
  • Identical Stranger: Joey, the White Abed.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jeff, when he discourages the study group from trying to change Abed, and suggests that he should just be himself.
  • Just the Way You Are:
    • Abed's comfortable with himself as he is, and he's okay if others want to try to change that to discover this trope.
    • Jeff, when everyone starts pressuring Abed to go after the girl. He knows where they're going with this, and anticipates the eventual conclusion. For once.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Every five seconds, when talking about Abed's love life.
    Troy: Abed, for guys like you, this kind of opportunity only comes around once in a life...while.
  • Makeover Montage: Suggested by Abed when the group wants to get him to impress a girl.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Jeff Winger kicking an old man's ass at pool. In shorts. Then in his underwear. Then naked.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Half funny/half sexy.
  • Noodle Incident: Abed apparently had a friend who got frustrated when they couldn't help him, tricked him into buying them ice cream and then shoved him into a washing machine.
  • Older Than They Think: In-universe; Troy and Shirley believe Can't Buy Me Love to be a remake of Love Don't Cost a Thing when it's actually the other way around. Nudged into Hypocritical Humor territory when Shirley expresses outrage at the movie being "remade for white audiences."
    Shirley: That's so offensive when they do that, I can't believe they didn't offend anyone!
  • Palette Swap: The one difference between Abed and his Identical Stranger.
  • Race Lift: Regarding the white Abed, Pierce says, "He's like Abed, but employable!" Ah, Racist Grandpa.
    • Considering Pierce is a businessman who has probably hired (and not hired) a lot of people, this slips into Fridge Horror. How many Abeds has he turned down because they were non-white?
      • Later episodes suggests that Pierce was in practical terms all but completely powerless in the company and his dad called all the shots. Of course, considering his father was an even more virulent racist, the Fridge Horror remains, but it's probable that Pierce himself wasn't personally involved.
  • The Rain Man: Abed demonstrated early in the episode when he intuitively knows the number of bagels in a bag.
    • It should be noted that he was giving the number of bagels in a bag, and his answer was a baker's dozen. Not an unreasonable guess.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Pierce when he gets frustrated with helping Abed introduce himself to Jenny.
  • Serious Business
    "You know what, Jeff, one of us is about to win this game. But years from now when the story's retold all they're gonna remember that one of us loved clothes and the other loved the game."
  • Shipper on Deck: Britta, Pierce, Troy, Annie and Shirley are aggressively shipping Abed x Jenny, because they think Abed will never get a chance of having a girlfriend again.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Annie's clearly interested when Jeff strips naked; and when everyone else looks away in horror when he lifts his leg onto the table for the final shot of the game, she's still sneaking a peek.
    • This is also the first of several occasions on which Annie finds herself drawn to Abed while he's taking on a persona (Don Draper, Han Solo, Batman, Jeff...), though this has more to do with him knowing her type and how to imitate it extremely well than any particular attraction existing between them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Jeff plays against the coach, the song "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon is playing, just like a scene in The Color of Money when Tom Cruise's character plays pool.
    • When Abed is told the group want to help him act like someone else, he compares it to Can't Buy Me Love. Troy then tells Shirley that it's Love Don't Cost a Thing "remade for white audiences" (though actually, the former was made in 1987 and the latter in 2003).
    • In the tag, Troy and Abed play Ernie & Bert from Sesame Street.
  • Take That!: Abed portrays Jeff as "10% Dick Van Dyke, 20% Sam Malone, 40% Zach Braff from Scrubs, and 30% Hillary Swank in Boys Don't Cry". Jeff doesn't mention Hillary Swank (in a movie where she plays a trans man), but he is insulted by the notion of Zach Braff.
  • You Say Tomato: Britta pronounces the word "bagel" as "baggel". According to the Harmontown podcast, creator Dan Harmon (a native of Wisconsin) has the same habit.


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