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Recap / Community S2 E15: Early 21st Century Romanticism

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On Valentines' Day, when Jeff has an argument with the study group over the Barenaked Ladies (and, less contentiously, Pierce's increasing dependence on his painkillers), Professor Duncan uses the opportunity to invite himself over to Jeff's place to watch the Liverpool vs. Manchester United soccer match on Jeff's big screen TV — a plan which gets a lot more complicated when Chang overhears and, for his own nefarious purposes, invites himself along as well... as well as a few other people. Meanwhile, Britta is thrilled to have made friends with a lesbian, which causes her to lord her hip liberal cred over Annie — until Annie discovers something Britta doesn't know about her new friend. Troy and Abed find themselves both attracted to a woman who works in the school library. And the increasingly erratic and unstable Pierce is finding himself torn over choosing between his friends and the tiny man who appears when he takes his pills.


The Community episode "Early 21st Century Romanticism" provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • May or may not be intentional, but Paige (Brit Marling) and Claire seem to be an alternate version of Britta and Annie - a subtle reference to Marling's movie "Another Earth"?
    • Professor Duncan invites himself to Jeff's apartment to watch the Manchester United vs Liverpool game - Duncan's actor, John Oliver, is a Liverpool fan.
  • Aerith and Bob: A non-fantasy example, some of the guests at Jeff's party includes; Magnitude, Swizzle, Scandalous, C-Dub, Tim, Mighty D, and Glisten.
  • Author Filibuster: Jeff does this In-Universe. The plot kicks off with an argument about the worthiness of the Barenaked Ladies, with the entire group defending them (citing their triple-platinum sales and billboard awards) while Jeff rants about how the band doesn't deserve notability, and certainly doesn't deserve its own unnecessary acronym (BNL).
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  • Berserk Button: It's probably best you don't insult the Barenaked Ladies around the study group, as all of them but Jeff will viciously attack you for some reason.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jeff sends a mass text to the rest of the Study Group apologizing for their fight at the start of the episode and admitting he genuinely does care about them, advising Pierce to let the rest of the group in before it's too late... As the viewer sees Pierce unconscious on a park bench, having OD'ed on his pain meds.
  • Call-Back:
    • Pierce's tiny man hallucination tells him his moonwalk was "streets ahead", a catchphrase Pierce was trying to make popular in Contemporary American Poultry
    • Chang explains that he was kicked out due to cheating on his wife with Shirley. He confirms this time they're officially broken up even though he doesn't remember sleeping with Shirley on Halloween.
    • Jeff was homeless for an episode last season. That's why he's somewhat sympathetic towards Chang being in the same scenario but furious that Chang was just going to take over his place without asking.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Jeff wants to spend a day without being the Team Dad to the group, especially since it's Valentine's Day and he is bitter about being single among the couples. While Troy and Abed handle their mutual crush on Mariah, Britta embarrasses herself by mistaking her friend Page for being lesbian, and Pierce overdoses. Jeff is right to worry when he realizes they didn't text him.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them
  • Cargo Envy: Troy, in regards to the books being sorted by Mariah the Hot Librarian:
    I wanna be a book. She could pick me up, flip through my pages, make sure nobody drew wieners in me...
  • Catchphrase: Discussed on the DVD commentary when they ask each other if people go up to them and say "Pop Pop!" Donald Glover comments that it's so NOT a catchphrase that it loops back around to become one.
  • Comforting Comforter: Jeff to Chang. D'awww.
  • Condescending Compassion: Britta for Paige. And vice-versa.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Pierce has a dissertation-length piece of mockery prepared for Britta "becoming" a lesbian (much of which is oddly supportive), and has another one waiting for when Jeff comes out.
  • Distress Ball: The episode needed a Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario so out of nowhere Jeff starts a fight with the rest of the group over a music band. It's implied, however, that he's feeling bitter about being single on Valentine's Day and took it out on the rest of the group.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The plot with Britta and Paige is nearly identical to that of Kerry and her prom date from 8 Simple Rules. The only thing missing is if Mariah discovered that she was a lesbian after her date with Troy and Abed.
  • Driven to Suicide: Implied. Pierce's tiny man hallucination tells him that he's running out of pills and needs to either choose the drugs or his friends. Pierce chooses the pills and overdoses.
  • Friend Versus Lover: How do Troy and Abed get around the potential threat to their friendship that their mutual attraction to Mariah creates? Approach her at the same time, explain the situation, and invite her on a mutual date to let her decide. And then, when Mariah eventually chooses Troy, Abed takes it in good spirit. And then Troy immediately breaks up with her because she criticises Abed.
  • Get Out!: Jeff kicks out Chang for using the party as a cover for moving in and wanting to be The Thing That Would Not Leave. Later, he lets him stay for the night but makes it clear that this isn't going to last.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Some guy shouts to Annie that she should kiss Britta when both hug which Annie almost does.
  • Hot Librarian: Mariah, who both Troy and Abed have a crush on.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Ultimately, you can only help someone if they are open to receiving advice. Jeff doesn't want to spend Valentine's Day with the group and would rather watch soccer — which he considers boring — with Dr. Duncan. Dr. Duncan is able to talk sense into him when Jeff admits that he's worried how no one texted him about the emergencies. In contrast, Pierce refuses to talk to Annie when she approaches him at the dance. She gently tries to ask how he's doing and he brushes her off. Pierce ends up overdosing, and Jeff texts an apology to the group saying he loves them.
  • Hypocrite: Britta. When she learns that Paige is straight and thought that she was a lesbian, she angrily calls Paige out on her actions, only to superciliously try and weasel out of it by claiming the moral high ground when Paige angrily points out that she was doing the exact same thing.
  • Irony: Britta piously chides Annie for her 'homophobia' when Annie naively asks questions about what it's like to know or for Paige to be a lesbian. Of course, had Britta actually asked Paige any of these questions — or, indeed, whether she as a lesbian to begin with — she could have avoided a great deal of embarrassment...
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Troy and Abed's motivation for their two-on-one date. Although the jury's out on whether the 'beloved' in this case is Mariah... or the guy she picks.
  • Jerkass Ball: Jeff grabs it by picking a fight over refusing to talk to Pierce about his painkiller addictions and insulted the Barenaked Ladies. It's implied that he is feeling bitter about being alone on Valentine's Day and resigns himself to watching soccer with Dr. Duncan. Later, he admits to Dr. Duncan that he doesn't want to care but does.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Paige isn't incredibly nice, but she's right to call Britta on her hypocrisy on criticizing Paige for hanging out with her just because she thought she was a lesbian when Britta was doing the exact same thing to Paige.
    • Jeff doesn't want to stage an intervention for Pierce because Pierce is remarkably oblivious to his faults and will deflect responsibility for his mistakes. Not to mention that he didn't see anything wrong with derailing Annie's play on the subject and would turn it into a stress fest for everyone else. While the group says that they owe it to Pierce to save him from a potential overdose, Jeff points out that the prescription is going to run out soon and Pierce will have to adjust to the withdrawal. He's right, as Pierce reveals that he is low on the painkillers, but didn't expect Pierce to overdose on the last of his pills.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Jeff has never heard of Magnitude before. Neither has the audience.
  • Love Triangle
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Troy breaks up with Mariah because she thought Abed was weird. Worth noting that when he mentions this to Abed, Abed just agrees that he is weird. Downplayed in that Troy was upset that Mariah was condescending towards his best friend.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Britta and Paige. Both by each other.
  • Mood Whiplash: Jeff's heartfelt text message to his friends cuts abruptly from Britta, Shirley, Annie, Abed and Troy all together receiving and reading it at the same time at the dance to Pierce, alone, unconscious, stoned and possibly having an overdose on a cold park bench outside.
  • Mushroom Samba: Pierce gets a visit from a tiny Andy Dick.
  • No. Just... No: Jeff has this response to Annie suggesting they stage an intervention for Pierce abusing his pills. Justified in that Pierce several episodes before derailed Annie's anti-drug play, and needs to take the painkillers for breaking his legs on an illegal trampoline that he blackmailed Jeff and Troy about.
  • Noodle Incident: Pierce's prepared statement may count, since we only hear the concluding remark.
  • Not So Different: Jeff makes some rather snide comments about Valentine's Day and the concept of love in general, but is spooked when Pierce enters the study room doing the exact thing, implying that this is the end of the road awaiting him if he doesn't make some changes in his life.
  • Off the Wagon: Duncan.
  • On Second Thought: After Jeff dismisses the idea of love, Abed comments that Jeff has to open his heart up some day. Jeff makes a snide comment about "missing the heart-opening deadline" in response, but quickly changes his tune when Pierce walks into the room grumpily complaining about Valentines Day.
    Jeff: (spooked) Opening my heart is on the list.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Jeff says the group normally sends him a few dozen texts about situations that are coming up. He gets worried when they don't send him any the night of the dance. Considering that Britta humiliated herself and Pierce overdosed, Jeff's fears were proven right.
  • Out of Focus: Shirley is only in the first and last scene of the episode. She's the only character that doesn't branch away from the study group to have her own storyline.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Britta refers to the Barenaked Ladies as "the most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid 90s."
  • Pet the Dog: Pierce's prepared statement following Britta (not really) coming out of the closet apparently contained quite a few surprisingly supportive paragraphs. Everyone is shocked speechless, but we don't get to hear any of it.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: By Chang as he spies on Jeff inviting Duncan to his house to watch the soccer game.
  • Ship Tease: Now available in Ho Yay and Les Yay flavors.
  • Serious Business: The group is just as — if not more — outraged by Jeff's dislike of the Barenaked Ladies than his reluctance to join them in an intervention for Pierce.
  • Shout-Out: "Where the white women at?"
  • Similar Squad: Britta and Annie's lesbian counterparts. Who aren't lesbians.
  • Small Reference Pools: The game that Duncan wants to watch is between Liverpool and Manchester United. Since John Oliver (Duncan's actor) is a Liverpool fan himself, it's possible he suggested the show used those teams, as United & Liverpool are heated rivals.
  • Staging an Intervention: Annie wants to hold an intervention to confront Pierce about his drug abuse. It does not happen because Jeff parts with the group for this episode over a fight about the Barenaked Ladies.
  • Stealth Pun: Abed peeks over the top of a book titled "Physical Anthropology" while checking out the Hot Librarian. In "The Psychology of Letting Go", Annie gives the definition of anthropology as "the study of humanity."
    • Starburns changes his sideburns to heart shapes for Valentines Day, making him "Heartburns".
  • Take That!:
    • Jeff railing against Barenaked Ladies who incidentally wrote and perform the theme song to the rivaling show The Big Bang Theory. Word of God on Dan Harmon's twitter says the connection to TBBT was unintentional.
    • Britta's storyline can be seen as one against those who vocally brag about their acceptance.
    • Jeff's comment that as a trendy American, he's been forcing himself to watch soccer since 2004.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    Annie: Oh! Is she a... (stage whisper) friend of Ellen?
    Britta: Yes, Annie, but you can say the word. Paige is a lesbian!
  • Valentine's Day Episodes
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Pierce's phone in the last scene has "Jeff Winger" in big letters written all over the display.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Chang apparently named one of his hermit crabs Jeff.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Chang's Fighting with Chucks goes awry when he accidentally smashes Jeff's floor lamp.
  • Where da White Women At?: Said by Leonard as he's entering Jeff's Apartment.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The match between Manchester United and Liverpool could not be viewed live at that time in the evening, as it would be 1.30 am in England. That match is also an example of Artistic License – Sports, as Liverpool and Manchester United have literally never played each other on the 14th of February.


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