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Recap / Community S 4 E 08 Herstory Of Dance

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"I can do the classic 'Two dates in one night' sitcom trope! It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hijinks! I can't pass it up."

Britta accidentally creates a Sophie B. Hawkins dance (she meant "Susan B. Anthony," then wouldn't admit the mistake) to compete with the Dean's Sadie Hawkins sock hop. Annie and Shirley set Abed up with their choices of dates.

The Community episode "Herstory of Dance" provides examples of:

  • Crash into Hello: Abed and Rachel have the softer variant. It's one of the few dating tropes they don't deliberately set up.
  • Deconstruction: Of Britta's Butt-Monkey treatment; we get to see how far she'll go trying not to get humiliated, to the point even Pierce thinks it isn't funny.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Dean's Housewife costume, with gray clothes and make-up to make him look straight out of The '50s.
  • The Determinator: No matter how inevitable the likelihood of her failing becomes, Britta doesn't back down from her dance. Her determination — and his disgust at Jeff's Jerkass behaviour towards her — is one of the things that moves Pierce towards arranging for Sophie B. Hawkins to show up at the dance after all.
  • Everyone Has Standards: One of the reasons that Pierce arranges for Sophie B. Hawkins to show up after all is that he doesn't appreciate Jeff's Jerkass behaviour towards Britta throughout the episode.
  • Everyone Is Satan in Hell: Jessica's father apparently believes that Star Wars is the work of the Devil.
  • Exact Words: After Abed accepts Kat's invite to the Sadie Hawkins dance, Shirley comes in to discuss Abed's date with Jessica, the girl from her church, but never specifies which dance she means. Abed, naturally, runs with this and states that he'd love to go to Britta's dance with Jessica, setting up the dichotomy for his Two-Timer Date.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Rachel references and gestures the Facepalm version.
  • Funny Background Event: When Shirley and Annie confront Abed, Troy walks behind them balancing a (very) high stack of plastic cups.
  • Held Gaze: One happens between Abed and Rachel. Rachel makes sure to Lampshade it, noting that HeldGazes often predicate The Big Damn Kiss in movies. Abed, however, Oblivious to Love, quickly breaks the moment and shuts her down.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Annie and Shirley get very competitive over finding Abed a date for the dance while insisting that it's not a competition. Shirley suggests that they both find Abed a date and then let Abed choose "rather than turn it into a competition", which as Abed points out is the very definition of a competition.
    Shirley: Only for the loser.
  • Jerkass: Jeff pretty much spends the entire episode smugly waiting for Britta to fail so he can rub it in her face, and takes every opportunity he can get to gloat and belittle her. Pierce calls him out on it, pointing out that she helped Jeff reconcile with his dad and deserves a bit more slack from him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jeff isn't exactly wrong that Britta's just making more trouble for herself through her stubbornness rather than admitting her mistake and moving on, but as Pierce points out the fact that he takes malicious pleasure in anticipating her inevitable failure doesn't reflect well on him. Pierce also belongs here, as he is just as right to point out that Jeff's often quite cruel and callous way of pointing out people's failings doesn't really help the situation either.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Pierce was the one who called in Sophie B. Hawkins because he admired the way that, even in the face of absolute failure, Britta didn't back down.
  • Malaproper: A malapropism kicks off the main plot of the episode as Britta says "Sophie B. Hawkins" when she meant "Susan B. Anthony" but is too stubborn to admit she misspoke.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Kat is a parody of this trope. When introducing her, Annie references the trope and all but names it.
    Annie: She's like one of those quirky girls from the movies. I saw her in the cafeteria trying to pay for lunch with a song.
  • The '90s: According to the Dean, '90s nostalgia is something of a life-raft for much of the student body at Greendale.
    Britta [nervously]: I didn't know Sophie B. Hawkins was so big at Greendale.
    Dean Pelton: Oh yeah. A large percentage of Greendale students sort of... gave up in the mid-Nineties, so for many of them Sophie B. Hawkins is the most recent music they're aware of. I mean, her coming here is going to be a huge boost to their spirits.
    Britta: Greaaat!
    Dean Pelton: Whereas her not showing up would be enough to push these people to such a dark place... and really question whether life is worth living at all. [pauses as Britta looks stricken] Okay, buh-bye!
  • Oblivious to Love: Abed misses that Rachel is falling for him.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Annie and Shirley both believe that they have won the date-picking competition. In a minor subversion, though, they quickly figure out that Abed's on two dates at the same time.
  • On the Next: The first airing had a tag featuring the puppet versions of the group from the following episode.
  • Person as Verb: In his What the Hell, Hero? Speech one of the points Pierce makes to Jeff is that his constantly and gleefully using Britta's name as a synonym for failure and incompetence is a pretty crappy thing for a supposed friend to do. Jeff makes amends at the end by congratulating her for doing a great job, saying she "Britta'd the hell out of it."
  • Prom Wrecker: Britta starts the Sophie B Hawkins dance as a protest against the Sadie Hawkins dance, which she feels encourages outdated gender roles.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pierce mentions that an appearance by Cheryl Tiegs added some sex appeal to a recent episode of the American Inspector Spacetime.
    • The Dean pops in on the study group dressed as "Dean-a Reed".
    • The episode's A plot centers on Britta planning a Sophie B. Hawkins Dance.
    • Troy is confused about witnessing two events that seem to contradict one another — although he allows for the possibility that he could be living parallel lives like in Awake.
    • Pierce mentions that Hawthorne Wipes was once the official moist towelette supplier for Lilith Fair.
  • Snowball Lie: Britta's mistake in naming her dance threatens to escalate into a Brittastrophe.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The Dean is offended that Britta thinks a dance can just be thrown together.
  • Take That!:
    Abed: That guy's like teflon. No matter how much awful stuff he does, he keeps getting another chance.
    Troy: Yeah, he's like the Colin Farrell of people.
    • Jessica hasn't seen the Star Wars movies because she's been taught that pop culture is of the devil. Abed admits that this may be true at least of The Phantom Menace.
  • This Is the Part Where...: ...we kiss, says Rachel.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Pierce calls Sophie B. Hawkins, whom he knows from being a sponsor at Lilith Fair, to show up and save Britta from being humiliated. May also count as a Pet the Dog moment for Pierce.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Abed hates the American remake of Inspector Spacetime.
  • Two-Timer Date: Abed does this for no reason other than the fact that he wants to try his hand at this classic trope.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Pierce calls Jeff out on his Jerkass behaviour towards Britta and the delight he is getting from watching her screw up, pointing out that, among other things, she helped Jeff reconcile with his father.
    • Annie and Shirley call out Abed on the fact that he is lying to two perfectly nice women for the sole purpose of amusing himself.