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Recap / Community S2 E10: Mixology Certification

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"Happy expulsion, Troy!"

Troy is having his 20th birthday and the whole study group is celebrating. But wait a second—Troy was held back a year in fifth grade! It's actually his 21st birthday. As in legal drinking age. Time to hit the bars.

The rest of the episode revolves around the group's night on the town. Annie adopts the persona on her fake ID and has a crisis of confidence. Abed talks Farscape with a fellow Sci-Fi geek and gets hit on. Shirley tries to hide pictures showing the fact that she used to be a regular in this bar. Jeff and Britta continue arguing over which bar is cooler, L Street or the Red Door, and consume one too many drinks.

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The Community episode "Mixology Certification" provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Jeff groans upon hearing Tyra Banks' name. Joel McHale is well-known for making fun of her on The Soup.
  • An Aesop: Alcohol doesn't make everything better.
  • Birthday Episode: An unusually somber and depressing example. The celebration starts off happy when the study group have a cake for Troy in the study room, but when they learn that Troy is actually of drinking age they decide to celebrate "properly" and take him to a bar instead. It soon turns out that they should have just stayed in the study room, as everyone just ends up getting drunk, miserable and/or disillusioned with their lives, thus well and truly ruining the celebration. After looking around at the various states his friends are, Troy decides not to have a drink, and instead ferries his drunken friends home.
  • Birthday Party Goes Wrong: Troy's party starts off happy with a cake in the library in their study room, but when they learn that Troy is actually 21 and can drink legally, Jeff and Britta decide to celebrate "properly" and take Troy and others to a bar (they only have to sneak Annie who is the youngest). Everyone ends up getting drunk and unhappy with their lives which ruins the celebration. Troy is the only one sober and decides not to have a drink, and he ends up driving his drunken friends home.
  • Brake Angrily: Troy does so when he finds out that Jeff and Britta have been fighting over the same bar.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jeff and Britta end up as Broken Pedestals for Troy. He's spent all night listening to their advice on growing up only to learn they've also spent all night bickering over the same bar under the mistaken impression that it's two different places:
    Troy: I just spent the last two years thinking you guys knew more than me about life, and I just found out that you guys are just as dumb as me.
    Britta: ...Duh-doy.
    Jeff: Yeah, duh-doy.
  • Call-Back: Annie lives in a really bad neighborhood.
  • Dark Secret: Shirley's well-documented past as a barfly.
  • Double Entendre: Double subverted and lampshaded, all in about six seconds.
    Jeff: Flanahan's Hole is closed. That's not a- I'm- I'm not being clever. I mean it's out of business.
    Britta: Well, that's what they get for trying to please everyone.
  • Downer Ending: Troy's birthday celebration ends with everyone pretty much drunk, depressed and / or miserable, and Troy driving everyone home without having his first drink. Moves slightly towards bittersweet territory when he manages to cheer Annie up a bit and the fact Troy chose not to have the drink shows some signs of maturity.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Annie starts off with Root Beers and as she get worked up about planning out her life Annie eventually ends up switching to screwdrivers.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Shirley has some incriminating photos of her when she frequented the bar.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Everyone is perfectly willing to try and trick Pierce into thinking that they all celebrated his birthday and that he just forgot about it, rather than admit that they all just forgot / didn't care about his birthday. However, when Troy tries to exploit the situation to get money for the "cake deposit" off Pierce, Britta gives him a frown of disapproval. Though subverted when Jeff gives him a thumbs up for his brazen dishonesty and exploitativeness.
  • Fridge Logic: invokedTroy doesn't realize how stupid "being 10 for two years" is until he says it out loud, several years after the fact.
  • Food Slap: Abed is on the receiving end of a drink to the face.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "Maybe later you'll let me drive your car". Jeff just laughs.
    • At the end, Jeff and Britta drunkenly make out right next to Abed inconsiderate of his obvious discomfort with the situation as if he was a 'coat-rack', only to get annoyed when he reveals what they've done to Troy. In "Paradigms of Human Memory", much to their chagrin, it'll be once again revealed that he's been paying closer attention to them than they realize.
    • Everyone thinks they get away with persuading Pierce that they actually didn't forget his birthday, but it will later be suggested that he wasn't as convinced as they thought...
  • Forgotten Birthday: Happens to Pierce. The rest of the group convinces him it happened otherwise. Or do they? "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" suggests that Pierce wasn't as convinced as they thought...
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: On the whiteboard in the cold open: "Illiterate? Write for help."
  • Gaslighting: The group exploits Pierce's forgetfulness and pill-affected mental state to convince him (or so they think) that they actually celebrated his birthday and he's just forgotten, as opposed to confessing that they just forgot / didn't care about celebrating his birthday.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: The episodes opens as only the last two words are sung, to get around the copyright on the song. Although it's played with, in that Pierce immediately questioned why they didn't sing the whole 'happy birthday' bit; turns out, since Troy is a Jehovah's Witness, they didn't even sing those bits anyway.
  • Held Back in School: It's implied that Troy repeated 5th grade.
  • Hipster: Jeff and Britta spend the episode out-douching one another.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Annie whines about the group only thinking about themselves and tells them to think about her instead (in regard to her being underage and unable to go out drinking with them).
  • In Vino Veritas: Played for drama; while drinking does cause some changes and lost inhibitions in the characters who drink, no wacky hijinks ensue — everyone just ends up miserable.
  • Is That What He Told You?: Minor example done by Troy's mother.
  • Jerkass: In between their obnoxiously petty bickering over a hipster bar that turns out to be the same place without either of them realizing, insulting Troy's drink choices, making fun of Shirley's drinking phase, and their making out right next to Abed in the back seat of the car without considering his feelings or even his presence, it's made pretty clear that alcohol helps bring out Jeff and Britta's douchey sides.
  • Kick the Dog: The study group using Pierce's senility to convince him that they didn't forget his birthday (and that he owes Troy money). Given who Pierce is it's also has a Kick The Son Of A Bitch vibe.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Jeff and Britta.
  • Lies to Children: Poor Troy was told that everyone is ten for two years because fifth grade is hard for everyone:
  • Loophole Abuse: Troy as a Jehovah's Witness can't celebrate birthdays, so the gang brings him a cake for no specific occasion and sings "Happy Birthday to You" without the "Happy Birthday" parts.
  • Lost in Character: Annie dives into her role as Caroline from Corpus Christi.
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: Annie is only 19 and is talked into using the ID of Britta's friend to get into the bar with the others.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Abed by Robert, the nerdy guy Abed spends the night talking to about Farscape.
  • Only Sober Man: Troy silently realizes that he's the only one left with his head on straight and stays sober to get everyone home safe.
  • Out of Focus: Pierce, once again.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Usually a Community episode stays within the Greendale campus, is mainly comedic, and includes a ton of jokes. This episode keeps this up for the first five minutes, but as soon as things switch to the bar, things become more somber. The end of the episode isn't comedic, but poignant. Consuming alcohol doesn't make the characters do anything funny, but makes things "sad" (it's the "Lifetime original movie of beverages" as Troy puts it).
  • Rite of Passage: A night out at a bar was supposed to become Troy's rite. In a double subversion it does - he ends up being the only one not drinking, but also ends up being the only one to exit the episode with dignity, taking care of the others and he gets to drive the car.
  • Running Gag: The second instance of the 'Annie lives in a terrible neighborhood' joke.
  • Self-Deprecation: Annie, in her role as Caroline, insults her life.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Jeff/Britta who spend the episode recreating their Belligerent Sexual Tension and end up making out.
    • Troy/Annie have a heart-to-heart after he drops her home and he manages to cheer her up in her identity crisis.
    • Abed/Robert (one sided)
    • Troy is briefly shown to be attracted to Britta.
    • A little Abed/Annie.
  • Significant Reference Date: December 3, 2010.
  • Sleep Cute: Britta, on Abed's shoulder.
  • So Proud of You/What the Hell, Hero?: After the group convinces Pierce they threw him a birthday party that he forgot, Troy says Pierce still owes him for the keg deposit. Britta criticizes him and Jeff congratulates him.
    • The former trope is implied at the end when a more subdued Jeff notes that Troy is a man now.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: Jeff and Britta, while driving to the bar.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Britta excuses herself at the bar to "go see a woman about the female equivalent of a horse".
  • Very Special Episode:
    • Or at least the closest thing Community will ever get to one. Focuses on accepting your limitations (Pierce), seeing your heroes fall from grace (Troy towards Jeff and Britta), wanting to be someone else (Annie), hiding things to avoid ridicule (Shirley), being honest with people about your intentions (Abed) and realizing the perils of adulthood (Troy again).
    • The episode in general also has a 'Very Special Episode' vibe towards alcohol, although it's a lot less overwrought and melodramatic about the subject than such special episodes usually tend to be. Nevertheless, while no one is seriously harmed or threatened by their alcohol consumption, the point is clearly made that it doesn't really solve problems or actually make things better or more fun; it ultimately just ends up making people unhappy (Abed and Annie directly, Shirley and Troy indirectly as Shirley is humiliated by her alcohol-soaked past and Troy's birthday is ultimately ruined by everyone's drunken behaviour and melancholy) or act like jerks (Jeff and Britta).