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Recap / Community S 3 E 11 Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts

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Jeff and Britta argue some of the more extreme views of marriage. At a wedding rehearsal. Wait, what?

Following an extravagant re-marriage proposal from her ex-husband Andre, Shirley decides to put her plan to open a sandwich shop in the Greendale cafeteria on hold to instead concentrate on planning the wedding. Outraged at this example of Shirley putting her role as a traditional housewife over her career dreams, Britta insists that she and Annie plan the wedding while Shirley instead concentrates on her business pitch, with Pierce — recently fired from Hawthorne Wipes upon the death of his father, and looking to start a business of his own — providing the funding. However, this ends up backfiring when Britta suffers a crisis of identity upon discovering a hidden talent for arranging weddings.

Jeff, who has been asked to write a toast celebrating the happy couple, finds himself undergoing a crisis of his own when his cynicism about marriage and his failure to produce a speech ends up digging up old wounds. Troy and Abed, meanwhile, decide to purge their systems of 'weirdness' and become 'normal' for the ceremony.


"Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts", the mid-season premiere for the second half of Community's third season, was delayed after the show was placed on hiatus by NBC, eventually airing on March 15th 2012.

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The Community episode "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Ken Jeong as Chang.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: An R&B a capella version, of course.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Andre and Shirley return to the rehearsal to see Britta and Jeff drunkenly yelling vows at each other and trying to get married in the heat of the moment. Britta announces that she's doomed to be a wife and that's all she's good for; Shirley tells her that in marriage, you aren't going to stay the same forever and the idea is to accept that you and your partner are going to change. Jeff then says that people don't keep the promises they make on their wedding day so none of it matters. Andre, with a sympathetic Heel Realization expression, tells Jeff that marriage is about making those vows every day and committing to them. Both Jeff and Britta calm down, realizing they were being jerks.
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  • Bored with Insanity: Troy and Abed get all their weirdness out in the Dreamatorium so they'll be perfectly normal for Shirley's wedding. Their idea of perfectly normal, anyway.
  • Brand X: Annie's can of soda pop is unmistakably Sprite, but labeled generically as Soda.
  • Bridezilla: Annie is shaping up to be one, if that binder is any indication.
    Oh hey guys! Did someone say "Annie," "help," "wedding," and something about maybe hydrangeas?
  • Call-Back:
    • Like in "Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts", a significant and traditionally sentimental event in Shirley's life ends up with Jeff and Britta struggling to maintain their ironic-cool, detached and above-everything personas in the face of it (the birth of her child in the prior episode, her re-marriage to Andre here), with both ultimately revealing they're not as aloof as they'd like others to believe on the subject. For Britta, her Straw Feminist-views on Shirley's situation and consequent sense of superiority also end up backfiring and making her look foolish in both cases.
      • Also from this episode, when injured by the 'trouser bench', Pierce begging "would someone please call all the ambulances?" reflects the Dean asking "would someone please get all the mops?" when Shirley's water breaks.
    • Also, Annie hums the song "Daybreak" from Abed's horror story in "Horror Fiction In Seven Spooky Steps", which she probably picked up from Troy.
    • A Take That! is dealt to Jim Belushi, as in "Interpretive Dance".
    • This episode continues the theme of how Jeff's dad walked out on him and his mother while Jeff was a kid, and how this has ended up with Jeff being completely messed up as an adult, as seen in "Intermediate Documentary Making" and "Advanced Gay".
    • It also continues the theme of Pierce's issues with his own father.
      Pierce [drunkenly, at his father's grave]: Look at me now, Dad!
    • Annie's Boobs makes an appearance.
    • The way Abed attempts to be normal is reminiscent of "his birthday dinner with Jeff".
    • Troy is wearing Pierce's father's ivory wig after a session in the Dreamatorium
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Apparently, this is a major principle of floral-arrangement-designer-persons:
    Annie: What about pink?
    Dale: We don’t call it pink. We don’t call anything by its name, that’s like day 1 floral school stuff. [pointing at flowers] This is citrine. This is opalescent. This is sea-glass, cameo and cerulean.
  • Cannot Convey Sarcasm: Inverted, as Troy and Abed's "normal mode" makes everything sound insincere.
    Abed: (Calmly) What, Shirley's late to the rehearsal for her wedding? Oh my.
    Andre: Hey, man. You don't have to be sarcastic.
    Abed: I'm not being sarcastic.
    Troy: (Calmly) We're heavily invested in your situation. Nothing's more important to us than your second wedding's rehearsal going smoothly.
    Andre: ...Walk away, man.
  • Character Check: This episode reminds us that yes, Andre did cheat on Shirley and their relationships had problems before. They start arguing when she's two hours late to the rehearsal with each of them bringing up their problems.
  • Commonality Connection: Andre apologizes to Shirley when he learns that Jeff's father walked out on his mother and broke his wedding vows to her, and as a result Jeff doesn't believe in marriage or true love. He has been on the other side of that, as the one who walked out.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jeff's drunken 'toast' reveals that his views on marriage have been informed by his father walking out on his mother and him.
  • Dissimile: Britta compares marriage to a Tea Party. Except the dolls are women, and the men are making them talk, and they aren't drinking tea, but antiquated gender roles.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Jeff non-verbally concedes that Britta's awkward description of an analogy ("It's like a thought with another thought's hat on!") is, in it's way, not a bad way to describe it.
  • Eureka Moment: Parodied and lampshaded when Shirley gets an unusual reminder of her wedding rehearsal:
    Pierce: Look at me now, Dad!
    Shirley: 'Dad'? Oh my God, I'm supposed to be looking like a bride at my wedding rehearsal to the dad of my children! I'm coming, baby! [She runs off]
    Dean: [Puzzled] That was... an odd dot to connect.
  • Funny Background Event: The backup dancers that Andre brought along for his choreographed re-marriage proposal continue doing vigorous footwork sans music in the background while Andre and Shirley are having a heartfelt conversation.
  • Generation Xerox: Britta becomes drunk and despondent when she thinks she will end up married like the other women in her family.
    Britta: This may shock you Annie, but I come from a long line of wives and mothers!
    Annie: Many do.
  • Gilligan Cut: Annie suggests that Pierce is more mature and grown-up than he's given credit for. Cut to Pierce, drunkenly ranting at his father's grave.
  • Heel Realization: Andre has this response when Jeff rants about how people don't keep the promises they make on their wedding day. After all, Shirley and Andre broke up because she caught him cheating on her. Andre then gently says that marriage is about keeping your promises every day and that he had forgotten that.
  • Held Gaze: Two for one! Jeff and Annie exchange a meaningful gaze, completely ignoring Shirley and Andre's happiness in the foreground, and then another gaze happens when Jeff seeks out Annie's advice for writing a toast for Shirley's wedding. They look into each other's eyes before she touches his heart, saying "Maybe there's something real in there" and then we get the Ship Tease montage of the things in Jeff's heart - nine of them being Annie.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Britta, a Straw Feminist who rails against traditional roles for women and domesticity, reveals a hidden talent for floral arrangement and wedding planning. Even Britta is shocked, and disgusted, by this revelation.
    • Subverted with Jeff. Annie believes there's a real person in Jeff and he just needs to dig deep. Cut to a montage of images in his heart consisting of poker, women, cars, and alcohol. Possible Double Subversion, however, in that one of the only 'real' things that appear is Annie. Also, he reveals that he is bitter about marriage because his father walked out on his mother and so he feels that no one keeps their promises.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Jeff and Britta loudly dismiss the idea and institution of marriage before Shirley enters the room, only to immediately and loudly switch to praising Shirley as soon as she enters.
      • In general, for two people who have never been married or in a stable relationship that's lasted longer than a few weeks, both Jeff and Britta are pretty self-congratulatory about their cynical and dismissive views on marriage. Andre and Shirley's speech to both of them at the end is basically part a heartwarming re-affirmation of their love for each other and partly them gently-but-firmly pointing out to Jeff and Britta that they both ultimately know nothing about marriage or what it is to be married to someone else, and so should shut up and stop acting like idiots over it.
    • Troy is also not particularly impressed by Shirley's demand that he and Abed act 'normal' at her wedding since she's holding it in the study room:
      Troy: We'll try not to embarrass you at your community college library wedding.
    • Troy and Abed's attempts at being 'normal' are ultimately just as weird as their usual eccentric personalities, except where their usual hijinks are (mostly) engaging, likeable and charming, their 'normal' personas are just discomforting, off-putting and oddly sarcastic-seeming.
  • Idea Ding: "I have an idea" says Abed. "ting!" go the sound effects.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Both Britta and Jeff hit the sauce over their conflicting hatred and fatalism over marriage.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: A couple of instances.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Andre, who owns a stereo store, apparently thought this about iPods.
  • Kick the Dog: The Dean telling Shirley that the school board loved her sandwich shop idea, and have sold the location to Subway instead. It's implied that the Dean did it out of spite over not being invited to the wedding.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response: Britta is driven to binge-drinking, a complete identity crisis and the depths of despair essentially over the fact that she turns out to be good at flower-arranging and wedding planning.
  • Malaproper:
    Britta: I'm one of the Steppenwolf wives.
  • Meta Guy: Even when they're deliberately acting normal, Troy and Abed fall into this when they start commentating on Jeff and Britta's argument.
  • Meta Phorgotten: "I know what an analogy is. It's like a thought, with another thought's hat on."
  • My God, You Are Serious / You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Taken Up to Eleven:
    Britta: Shirley, if that really is your excuse, I'll plan your wedding for you!
    Shirley: (Manic laughter)
    Title Card: Literally two full minutes later...
    Shirley: (Catches her breath and hands a water bottle back to a concerned passerby, still laughing) (to passerby) Ooh-hoo! Thank you. (to Britta) Oh my good God... Thank you for that...
    Britta: (deeply offended) I was serious!
    Shirley: (stares incredulously)
    Title Card: One minute later...
    Shirley: (deadly serious) Britta, you're not planning my wedding.
  • Noodle Implements: Troy and Abed step out of the Dreamatorium in streamer-covered black unitards, Hawthorne Sr.'s ivory toupee, and a Kickpuncher mask.
  • Not So Above It All: Jeff and Britta, when it comes to marriage.
  • The Power of Love: Subverted. When Jeff writes the toast for Shirley's wedding, we are led to believe he will write it based on his feelings for Annie. Turns out, he bases it on alcohol instead.
  • Product Placement: Subway is to open a franchise at Greendale, snatching Shirley's planned sandwich restaurant out from under her.
  • Promposal: Andre's choreographed re-marriage proposal is essentially one of these since he springs it in the Greendale cafeteria, inspired by the memory of a school dance where he and Shirley first met.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Just as Andre and Shirley are about to call off the wedding, Annie calls them for help. She shows them Britta and Jeff drunkenly reciting vows and about to wed each other. Shirley then tells them off for being foolish and asking why they are being jerks. She then talks Britta through her insecurities about how marriage is a trap, as Andre tells Jeff that marriage is about making promises every day and it's constant work. This gives Shirley the courage to tell Andre she has changed, and he has to accept that; he in turns promises to be a better husband.
  • The Reveal: Shirley's "Miss Piggy" voice is, according to Andre, her "sexy" voice she uses in the bedroom.
  • Ridiculously Average Guys: Troy and Abed try to be this for Shirley's wedding.
  • Self-Deprecation: Dean Pelton cannot believe that Shirley actually learned some useful business sense at Greendale.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Ship Tease: In the montage of images that represent everything in Jeff's 'heart', Annie pops up quite a lot.
  • Sincerity Mode: Abed insists this after being Normalized.
  • Sophisticated as Hell
    Shirley: In the words of my 9th grade English teacher: "You are dippin' and dappin' but don't know what's happenin'.
  • Squee!: When Jeff asks Annie for help with his toast, she immediately squeaks out of happiness.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • Andre has some conflicts over Shirley being the breadwinner, but it's more based around his insecurities about his own business' decline than any real sexist attitude and he ultimately concedes that Shirley taking the lead would be fine.
    • Britta seems to view marriage as fundamentally this for women, leading to an alcohol-fueled breakdown when it turns out she's good at planning weddings.
  • Take That!: Again, to Jim Belushi.
  • Thief Bag: A drawing of the Dean holding one in each hand is used in Shirley and Pierce's slide presentation to him about opening a sandwich shop on campus.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: Played with. While drunk, Jeff and Britta decide to get married, at the rehearsal for Shirley and Andre's wedding. Later, the minister convinces Shirley and Andre to cancel the scheduled wedding, having been practically married at the rehearsal.


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