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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.

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.
    • Abed, like his actor, is half-Polish. Abed is half-Palestinian, however, while Danny Pudi is 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 (save for Pierce, who tells Abed to put his tongue in Annie's ear).
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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 every time 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: Shirley's reaction to seeing the girl who drew the doodle of Abed with hearts. "Whoa! That's her?! She's pretty! Which... is not... a surprise at all." Her trying to take it back is not very convincing.
  • 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 time she's told "you're the worst" (by Chang).
  • 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 by holding it up to his forehead like he has Psychic Powers. Then he points out 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 and 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.)
  • Fan Disservice: Coach Bogner is an ageing, not particularly attractive guy. He strips naked to play a pool game.
  • 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 looks exactly like Abed except he's Caucasian. The gang call him 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.
  • Love Doodles: The study group discover a doodle of Abed in one of their textbooks and they go about tracking down the previous owner. They help Abed build up his confidence to ask her out. He does and gets accosted by her boyfriend who looks just like him, only Caucasian.
  • Makeover Montage: Suggested by Abed when the group wants to get him to impress a girl — the rest of the group are going to "Can't Buy Me Love" him.
  • 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 thinks Can't Buy Me Love is the remake of Love Don't Cost a Thing, which Shirley has never seen. It's actually the other way around. Winked at when Shirley expresses outrage at the "remake for white audiences":
    Shirley: It's so uncomfortable when they do that, I can't believe it doesn't offend anybody.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Pierce when he gets frustrated with helping Abed introduce himself to Jenny.
  • Serious Business:
    Coach Bogner: 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 (respectively) from Sesame Street.
  • Take That!: Abed portrays Jeff as "10% Dick Van Dyke, 20% Sam Malone, 40% Zach Braff from Scrubs, and 30% Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry". Jeff doesn't mention Hilary Swank (in a movie where she plays a trans man), but he is clearly pained by the notion of being anything like 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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