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Recap / Community S 3 E 10 Regional Holiday Music

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Annie's pretty young. We try not to sexualize her.

"It was almost like being on ecstasy, only instead of having pointless conversations and dancing like idiots—Wait, it was exactly like being on ecstasy!"
Britta, on being in Glee Club

As the study group tells each other their plans for Christmas (none of which involve each other), they (and the rest of the cafeteria) are interrupted by the new Glee Club (the old one having died in a bus crash) singing their usual mashups. However, this time the Glee Club is interrupted by Chang, who serves them with a cease-and-desist order for singing copyrighted songs on behalf of ASCAP (who found out after receiving an anonymous notification from Jeff), causing them to immediately panic and suffer a collective nervous breakdown.

Dean Pelton and Glee Club Director Mr. Radison (who prefers just being called "Mr. Rad") try to get the study group to fill in for Glee Club at the Christmas Pageant, but the group (led by Jeff) declines. Concerned that the group is growing apart, Abed later goes to see Mr. Rad, who convinces him that joining Glee and doing the Pageant will stave off the growing darkness and make everything brighter ("Glee"). Enthusiasm for Glee Club spreads like a virus, going first from Abed to Troy. Abed convinces him in rap that he can celebrate Christmas even though he's a Jehovah's Witness ("Jehovah's Secret Witness") and then Troy and Abed get Pierce to join through his Baby Boomer vanity ("Baby Boomer Santa"). Pierce then gets Shirley via a group of cute children singing about not knowing the meaning of Christmas ("Happy Birthday, Jesus!"). Annie gets Jeff by singing a seductive song about not understanding Christmas ("Teach Me How to Understand Christmas"). Finally, only Britta is left until she finds Jeff and he starts singing at her. Within a day, the entire study group decides to do the Christmas pageant.


Backstage on the day of the Pageant, Mr. Rad tells Abed (playing the King) that the group won't be filling in for Glee Club for just Christmas: Glee Club is forever. To stop Glee from taking over their lives, Abed switches roles with Britta, who promptly ruins the show (because she's the worst) and causes Mr. Rad to have his own nervous breakdown and accidentally confess that he caused the initial Glee Club's bus crash. Abed concludes that forcing things to be bright just made the darkness underneath even darker.

Back at his apartment, Abed watches the Inspector Spacetime Christmas Special alone, until he hears the rest of the study group singing Christmas carols outside his door. He lets them in and they all sit down to watch it together.


The Community episode "Regional Holiday Music" provides examples of:

  • Accidental Public Confession: Mr. Rad admitting that he killed the previous glee club is a classic Type 1.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In "Jehovah's Secret Witness," Troy raps like Childish Gambino, Donald Glover's rap stage name.
    • Gillian Jacobs has also made several self-deprecating comments about her lack of singing ability compared to some of the other members of the cast, which is reflected in Britta's less-than-stellar performance in the Christmas pageant.
  • All Guitars Are Stratocasters: Abed and Troy's song about Santa in the study room has them both miming on electric guitars of the default kind.
  • Affectionate Parody: The episode varies between being this of Glee and more of a straightforward Take That!.
  • An Aesop: It's all right to want some holiday cheer, but it's also unfair to force other people to be happy. Instead of creating a fake atmosphere of happiness, find new ways of celebrating the holiday.
  • Auto-Tune: In Troy's rap number.
  • Baby Talk: Annie's attempt at being a Brainless Beauty descends first into Woman Child, then this trope, and finally just gibberish.
  • Bait the Dog: Mr. Rad plays piano for Abed, and commiserates with him about how hard it is to get the holiday spirit from the people you love. It's all a ruse for him to have the study group as his new Glee club, and he doesn't care about their feelings on the matter.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: Community has a high track record of this already, but this episode takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Big "NO!": From Britta when she is assimilated by Jeff.
  • Brainless Beauty: Annie's entire routine is a deconstruction of this mentality; she dresses in a short-skirted costume and begins her song with an affected cutesy-dumb attitude remarkably unlike her usual intelligent, straight-A personality. This then devolves into increasingly childish behavior, until she's flopping on the ground spewing baby-talk. Even the insatiably horny Jeff is incredibly turned off by the number she intended to use to seduce him.
    • Considering that the entire episode is an extended Take That! to Glee, the scene could arguably be interpreted as a criticism of Brittany's character in particular from that show. She started out as vaguely ditzy, progressed to amusingly airheaded, and then quickly crossed the line into being so childish that she could never possibly function in the real world. Since this didn't preclude that series from portraying her in a very sexualized manner, it leads to mass Unfortunate Implications.
  • Break the Cutie: Abed, again, on Christmas. He gets sad when his friends won't be able to spend the holidays with him, not even Troy. Mr. Rad convinces him that everyone doing the pageant is a great way to end the semester on a high note and deliver Christmas spirit. Abed then uses his friends' weaknesses to get them to join, one by one, only to find out Mr. Rad wants them to do Glee Club permanently. He sadly recruits Britta to ruin the show, which reveals Mr. Rad killed the Glee Club the previous year. Abed then apologizes to his friends for trying to impose the holiday spirit on them and prepares to spend Christmas alone. Fortunately, they come to watch Inspector Spacetime with him so as to salvage Christmas.
  • Breather Episode: Subverted. Abed tries his best to invoke this so that everyone can have fun before they have to go away for the holiday. It turns out Mr. Rad is a perfectionist that murdered the Glee Club during their second year. As he puts it bitterly at the end, trying to impose cheer on darkness only reveals more darkness underneath.
  • Call-Back: Frequent reference is made to a short scene in "Paradigms of Human Memory", which showed the first time the group filled in for Glee Club. At the Christmas Pageant, Mr. Rad reveals that the bus crash that the first Glee Club died in wasn't an accident.
  • Christmas Episode: The third and last one for the show.
  • Corrupted Character Copy: Mr. Rad is this to Mr. Schuester from Glee. Both coach their school's Glee Club and both resort to extreme measures to get people to join. However, Mr. Rad is willing to go further than Mr. Schuester would, even committing murder. Also, Mr. Schuester does care about his students and encourages them to follow their dreams. Mr. Rad cares only about winning, chewing Britta out when she starts singing badly.
  • Crapsaccharine World:
    Abed: Maybe forcing everything to be bright just makes the darkness underneath even darker.
  • Critical Research Failure: Invoked with "Santa smoked a lot of acid."
    • The entirety of "Baby Boomer Santa" is a summary of the history of the second half of the twentieth century as sung by two people who appear to have a pretty shaky grasp of said history. Naturally, Pierce doesn't seem to notice.
      Abed and Troy: "And when the Commies gave the polio to Doris Day/ Santa helped the Beatles chase McCarthy away!"
  • Deconstruction: Mr. Rad is a deconstruction of the character Will Schuester. In Glee, Mr. Schuester forcibly recruited and in one case blackmailed a Glee Club member into joining but is never called out for it. He's genuinely passionate about it but sometimes lets the group's drama and Serious Business go too far in a bid to keep competing and stay as an official club, which makes Sue's vendetta against him more reasonable when her softer side was revealed. In the world of Community, someone like Mr. Schuester is seen as too ambitious over a hobby club where there are mostly adults trying to get a degree to get a job. With no Sue as his Sitcom Archnemesis, Mr. Rad is revealed to be ambitious to the point of wanting to commit murder and presumably kept this year's Glee Club on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • One of Abed's rap lyrics for "Jehovah's Secret Witness" is "If years were seasons, this December would be the December of our December!"
    • "Glee literally means, 'glee!'"
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Inspector Spacetime Christmas Special is apparently so bad the producer had his knighthood revoked.
  • Driving Question: Played for Laughs with "What are regionals?" Furthermore, the answer is later revealed to be essentially "the end of life as you know it."
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Jeff realizes he went too far with shutting down the Glee Club when one of the members stabs himself in the hand. He's visibly horrified.
    • As Abed puts it, he just wanted to do Glee Club for one pageant to spend time with his friends. He sabotages the show when Mr. Rad makes it clear that Glee Club is "forever".
    • The whole audience boos at Mr. Rad for insulting Britta. Even the Dean stands up and shouts that she should be allowed to finish her song.
  • Eat the Camera: During Jeff's single, long note to Britta.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Especially cameras.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: How Jeff reveals to Britta that he has been assimilated, before assimilating her as well.
  • False Reassurance: Mr. Rad tries to turn his Motive Rant into a hypothetical scenario.
  • Fan Disservice: Annie in a Sexy Santa Dress? Hot. A dumb Annie talking in increasingly infantile Baby Talk while wearing a Sexy Santa Dress? Not so much.
    • Similarly, Britta's "tree costume" is practically painted on... buuut her hilariously bad improvised song spoils the effect a little.
  • Fanservice: Not only are there the background dancers for "Jehovah's Secret Witness," but there's also Annie in a revealing Santa dress while singing probably one of the most suggestive songs ever made, and Britta in full skintight spandex for the Christmas pageant. That all being said, the latter two also fall into Fan Disservice as noted above.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: "You don't get to call Britta the worst!"
    • The second Glee Club (the ones from the beginning of the episode) also all suffer a simultaneous nervous breakdown upon getting a pretty standard cease-and-desist order for publicly singing songs they have no legal right to.
  • Fetish Retardant: Annie's song-and-dance routine becomes this In-Universe for Jeff, as seen above under Brainless Beauty.
  • Freak Out!: The members of Greendale's second Glee Club suffer a (possibly permanent) one and have to be replaced by our study group.
  • Friendship Moment: Everyone comes over to spend the holiday with Abed at the end of the episode.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • During the Glee Club's breakdown, Chang can be seen laughing at them.
    • Towards the end of "Jehovah's Secret Witness", Annie can clearly be seen poking her head through the curtains and watching Troy and Abed rap.
    • During "Baby Boomer Santa" two extras can be seen reacting to the scene outside the study room. One women looks in and laughs and, even better, towards the end of the song an older man in a red sweater starts dancing along to it as he walks by.
    • During the Christmas pageant, Pierce is clearly out-of-step with the other members of the group (and does some of the wrong moves as well).
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The effect of Glee Club.
  • Glurge Addict: Mr. Rad is one of these. A particularly psychotic and murderous one, as it turns out.
  • Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Mr. Rad is not a very good motivational speaker:
    Mr. Rad: Your best won't be good enough. And ten times your best? It will be so bad, I will yell at you!
  • Gone Horribly Right: Jeff suddenly feels a lot less proud of his attempt to get the glee club to stop singing when their breakdown goes so bad one stabs himself in the hand.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Britta but only during the Christmas Pageant; justified in that Abed pushed her onstage with no warning, preparation or lyrics, so she was freaking out from Performance Anxiety. It's averted at the end of the episode when the group collectively sings a carol to Abed in his apartment. She's an average singer but not terrible.
  • Holding Hands: Final shot of the study group has Annie and Abed doing this. Whether it is platonic or romantic is left to the viewer to decide.
  • Hulk Speak: By the end of her song, Annie's Baby Talk devolves into this.
    You smart, me dumb/Help pwetty have fun!
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: While the study group is often quick to poke fun at and mock Britta, Mr. Rad quickly learns that they will not tolerate anyone else calling her "the worst."
  • Hypocritical Humor: Shirley considers Troy's family's refusal to observe the Christmas holiday in accordance with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses as "severe"... then reveals that her holiday plans and 'gifts' apparently involve giving Annie (apparently among "the more persuadable of her Jewish friends") a surprise visit from her pastor to try and convert her.
  • Intercourse with You: Boopy-doopy-doop-boop, SEX!
  • Invisible Backup Band: Lampshaded and played straight as part of the Glee parody. Abed asks how Mr. Rad's piano is still playing after he starts dancing, and Pierce nervously asks if anyone else can see the bearded stranger sitting behind the piano in the study room (and yes, he's the spitting image of the Living Prop pianist in Glee).
  • Jerkass: While the original Glee Club is experiencing its breakdown, Chang can be visibly seen laughing at them.
  • Karma Houdini: Nobody is overly concerned that an admitted murderer just ran out of the cafeteria. Seeing as there are also Balkan war criminals, Neo-Nazis, human-blood-drinking psychopaths convinced that they're Jesus Christ, and Chang running around the area... what's one more murderous nutjob on the loose? And admittedly, there's no indication that Mr. Rad wouldn't be brought to justice off-screen, as he did essentially confess to murder in front of an entire audience of reliable witnesses.
  • Leitmotif: Glee-style musical cues can be heard at significant moments throughout the show, and start to become a lot more prominent and overpowering, going on to replace the typical musical score, as the Glee attitude gradually takes over the show and characters.
  • Look Behind You: Mr. Rad's contingency plan.
    Look - Kings of Leon!
  • Manipulative Bastard: Mr. Rad gets Abed to agree to his plan to recruit the study group by pointing out how they're full of cynicism just in time for the holidays, and all Abed wants to do is spend time with them. Abed actually doesn't have a response and starts singing along.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Minor psychological injury, at least; The relatively minor setback of being told to cease-and-desist publicly singing songs they have no legal right to sing causes the Glee Club at the beginning of the episode to experience a collective psychotic breakdown. One guy even stabs himself with a fork.
  • Monkey Morality Pose: The ladies in the study group during "Baby Boomer Santa".
  • Motive Rant: Mr. Rad goes into one when the audience applauds Britta's singing.
  • The Music Meister: Mr. Rad.
  • Musical Episode: Community style.
  • Musical Pastiche: The episode features a Glee-esque scat-based soundtrack.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Jeff has this reaction when his getting the Glee Club shut down leads to the whole group suffering nervous breakdowns. He didn't want it to go that far.
    • Abed has this reaction when Mr. Rad tells him that the study group is going to become the new Glee Club permanently. As Abed put it, he only wanted to end the semester on a high note so everyone could be happy on Christmas. He then decides to ruin the show to save his friends, and is also visibly horrified when he realizes that he was enabling a crazy murderer to brainwash his friends into soulless Glurge Addicts.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Abed starts recruiting the study group for the Glee club, despite most of them being against it. He eventually realizes that Mr. Rad is off-the-rails and wants to control them forever, and he handed Mr. Rad his friends on a platter.
  • Not So Similar: Abed bonds with Mr. Rad on seeing that he wants to celebrate the holidays and bring in the Christmas spirit. He learns that Mr. Rad was lying to him and manipulating him to have a permanent Glee club in the study group.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Annie is talking about going to the movies with her grandmother. Troy thinks she's talking about... well, something else.
    Annie: I'll be at the movies with my bubbienote 
    Troy: You're not taking both of them?
    Annie: [Confused] Well... one of them's dead.
    Troy: [Even more confused] ...What?
  • Phrase Catcher: Mr. Rad says to Britta, "You are the worst!"
  • Playing a Tree: Britta is cast a Christmas tree in the pageant. A mute one at that thanks to being Hollywood Tone-Deaf.
  • Pun:
    Mr. Rad: I thought I told you to call me 'Mr. Rad.' Or Cory. Just don't call me late to dinner. Unless you're serving Brussels sprouts!
  • Reality Ensues: The second Greendale Glee Club is shut down due to legal threats, as there's no way a small school choir can afford the rights to so many popular songs.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Mr. Rad is given an introduction by the Dean, despite the study group having previously worked with him off-screen. Somewhat justified in that them filling in for the glee club is a Noodle Incident from a previous episode.
  • Running Gag: Pierce asking what regionals are.
  • Serious Business: The Glee Club. Upon receiving a cease-and-desist order, the second Glee Club suffers a collective mental breakdown so severe that the study group's initial jubilation turns into anxiety at being caught. The study group gradually becomes obsessed with the Glee Club as each member is brainwashed, thanks to Mr. Rad's extreme devotion , which extends to the point of murdering the first club. Lampshaded by Britta, who points out that the small-scale nature of things makes the fact that her friends are practically being brainwashed into joining the Glee Club somehow even more terrifying.
    Glee Club Member: My soul is dead! [Stabs himself in the hand with a fork]
    • Also "regionals" — once you're in the Glee Club, you cannot shut up about regionals. Pierce doesn't even know what they are, but is certain they are very important.
    • Inspector Spacetime is apparently this in Britain, what with the quality of the Christmas special being bad enough to get the creator's knighthood revoked.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Annie wears one to seduce Jeff into joining Glee Club.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Upon being told that the Glee Club had been "this close" to regionals before the letter:
    Pierce: What the hell are regionals?!
    Dean: They were this close, Pierce!
  • Ship Tease:
    • At the end of the episode Abed and Annie are holding hands, while Troy and Britta are also sitting together.
    • And before that, Annie seduces Jeff into joining the Glee Club.
    • Britta is also "assimilated" into Glee Club largely through Jeff singing to her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Inspector Spacetime Christmas special, which is two and a half hours long and was bad enough to get the creator's knighthood revoked, is an obvious send-up of The Star Wars Holiday Special.
      • Also, the band cameo is not dissimilar to the time the Beatles made a cameo in the show of a certain other time traveling spacebox alien man, as well as the appearance of Jefferson Starship in the Star Wars Holiday Special itself.
    • Twin Peaks is given a quick mention during "Baby Boomer Santa."
    • Another Shout-Out is Jeff's single sustained note in the hallway, a reference to the high-pitched screams of Pod People in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and a near-perfect recreation of the Downer Ending of the 1978 version, with Jeff in the Donald Sutherland role. Britta's descent into horrified shrieks also mirrors the reaction that Veronica Cartwright's character has at the end of the film.
    • Overlapping with major spoilers for Veronica Mars: A school bus crash is staged to look like an accident, but was actually done by a murderous psychopath.
    • "Baby Boomer Santa" homages / parodies classic songs like "We Didn't Start The Fire" and "American Pie".
    • On the festive appearance of the Human Being, which has been given a coating of icicles to celebrate the festive season (which of course just makes it look more terrifying):
      Jeff: My favorite holiday tradition is trimming the Hellraiser.
    • The opening number of the pageant features ParaParaParadise dance moves.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The Inspector Spacetime Christmas Special has this appeal to Troy and Abed in-universe:
    • However, when he's watching it by himself, Abed's underwhelmed reaction to what we see of it suggests that without anyone to share the experience and mock it with, it's actually just horrible. The creator got his knighthood revoked for a reason, after all.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Occurs when Abed and Mr. Rad sing "Glee," for later songs participants may have had time to practice.
  • Stepford Smiler: Mr. Rad is clearly hiding a lot of unpleasantness underneath his overly cheerful exterior. The members of the study group also become this as they get sucked into the Glee Club.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas" has an ABCCB rhyming scheme. Then comes the last verse:
    Brain hurty understandy Christmas,
    Mistletoe for eaty taste good?
    You smarty, me dumb!
    Help pwetty, have fun!
    Boopy doopy doop, boop, sex.
  • Take That!: The whole episode functions as a pretty extensive one to Glee.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: One of the reasons Abed gives for doing Glee Club is that they'll have to sing their feelings instead of making a face.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Annie for the duration of her song. She goes from normal, to sexy, to cute in a childish way to... Boopy-doopy-doop-boop. Jeff even notes that there's "a point of diminishing returns" on the sexiness as a result.
    • "What's a deminiminmeghh?"
  • Traitor Shot: Mr. Rad giving a Psychotic Smirk and rubbing his hands together after Abed agrees to recruit his friends for the pageant. Yyyup, he's evil.
  • True Meaning of Christmas: Parodied; Mr. Rad and Abed appear to believe that staging the Christmas pageant and the True Meaning of Christmas are inseparable.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Look: Kings of Leon!
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Britta gets on stage and ruins the show, Mr. Rad goes absolutely nuts and accidentally lets slip that he killed the previous Glee Club.
    • For a given value of 'villain' (the study group seems to feel this way), the Glee Club is driven to a collective psychotic breakdown upon being served with a cease-and-desist order for the copyrighted songs they've been singing.
  • Villain Has a Point: Abed can't contest Mr. Rad when he says that Jeff is full of cynicism. In fact, Jeff was the one that said they shouldn't try to make the holidays brighter.
  • The Virus: Abed calls Glee Club recruitment this in the first song, and so it's played for the rest of the episode.
  • A Wizard Did It: How does a piano keep playing with no musician? Glee, of course!
  • Whole Plot Reference: The plot is essentially Invasion of the Body Snatchers given the Glee treatment.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Abed initially believes he's in a light-hearted and magical Christmas story where he has to save his friends from drifting apart and forgetting the True Meaning of Christmas through the power of song and that Mr. Rad is a magical guide who will help him do this. It turns out, the story is a lot darker than he thinks, his efforts to force his friends to be magical and cheery is played out almost as a Mind Control Assimilation Plot where their identities are being stripped away and replaced with hollow cheeriness, and his friends — far from turning into Christmas-hating grinches having forgotten the True Meaning of Christmas, and who have never expressed even the slightest desire not to spend Christmas together (just that they already have alternative plans with others arranged) — are actually quite right in that trying to force things to be bright just ends up making them darker, and that Christmas is about more than just happy singing. Oh, and Mr. Rad is actually a complete psychopath. Abed is understandably horrified when he realizes what he was enabling.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Annie, who is Jewish, refers to her grandmother as her "bubbe" which Troy misinterprets.


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