Friday, April 30, 2010

Community 1.21: "Contemporary American Poultry"

“And for your information, I don’t have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape.”


“Community” is seriously on a roll. “Contemporary American Poultry” was another hilarious, entertaining episode. I liked that we got a look into what makes Abed tick. I think this episode helped fill in his character more than any other. I loved that much of the episode was a mob movie parody. Being the voracious pop culture consumer that I am, the show’s pop culture-based humor really works for me. The episode really had a nice balance of humor and heart, and it’s nice to know that chicken fingers being the height of college cuisine isn’t unique to my own college experience!

The episode opens with a fairly typical study group session with everyone sharing the latest triumphs and trials of their lives. The conversation is interrupted when the call goes out that chicken fingers are up in the cafeteria. Britta’s the only one who isn’t enthusiastic- she’s a vegetarian. She starts sobbing about how her cat is sick as everybody else rushes out of the room. Shirley looks like she’s going to very reluctantly stay, but Britta tells her she can go. The rush is useless, though. Starburns is the fry cook, and he controls the chicken finger distribution. They’re all sold out by the time the group gets there.

Jeff’s got a plan for a chicken coup. Heh. Yeah, I just half-heartedly laughed at my own joke. I blame the fact that it’s Friday. Britta flirts with Starburns to make him distracted, and some incriminating photos of Starburns skimming chicken fingers are taken. Starburns is fired, and the fix is in for Abed to replace him. Abed’s experience at his family’s falafel restaurant doesn’t hurt. And neither does Troy purposely giving the worst interview possible while dressed up in Ancient Egyptian headgear.

Jeff begins to second guess his plan, though. He and the rest of the group are happily chowing down on chicken fingers when they see Abed give a container of fried goodness to Señor Chang. There are protests all around from the group until Abed says that he negotiated the chicken fingers for a ten percent bump in the grades of the entire study group. The protests turn to squeals of glee, and Shirley says that they’re good with having Abed make all the group decisions from here on out. This makes Jeff a little pissy, to say the least. It was painfully obvious to me that Jeff was resenting not being the center of attention anymore, but it took the rest of the characters a little while longer to catch on. Maybe Jeff’s initial reaction could have been dialed back a bit.

The group’s got a whole chicken finger syndicate going on, and each of them (except Jeff, really) has a part to play in getting the chicken fingers from the fryer to the students and getting something in return. I really enjoyed Abed’s narration as he was explaining everybody’s role. You can tell that being the pop culture nut he is, this is right in his wheelhouse. With success, however, comes greed. Abed gets nice things for the entire group. Annie’s got her dream backpack, Britta’s got her own personal hairstylist, Pierce has an entourage, Troy’s got…a monkey named “Annie’s Boobs” (oh I am so going to regret including the name of Troy’s monkey when I check out what Google searches lead people to this blog).

Abed runs the whole thing out of his dorm room, and Jeff stops by, disgusted at how taken his friends are with their new found power. Abed explains to Jeff that he likes being in charge of the chicken fingers because he feels like he speaks everyone’s language now. They all relate on exactly the same level- chicken. Jeff, however, is not impressed with this explanation and storms out of the room. He later quits the group entirely, swearing to bring down the whole operation. He gets a little help from Starburns (the only person who will actually talk to him). Starburns has the key to the kitchen, and he also has some important intel. There’s one particular piece to the fryer that can’t be replaced, and if Jeff steals it, Abed’s reign is over for good.

Meanwhile, Abed starts realizing how power has changed his friends. They’re starting to care more about the things Abed has gotten for them than they care about Abed himself. They’re getting ungrateful. Pierce, for instance, wanted someone named Travis for his entourage and is pissed when he finds out Abed only got him someone whose middle name is Travis. Abed decides it’s time to send a message. He destroys Annie’s backpack. He lets Troy’s monkey go free. He puts gum in Britta’s hair. As soon as the goodies stop flowing, the group comes flocking back to Jeff. Jeff promises to steal the fryer part and end Abed’s rein.

Jeff sneaks into the kitchen that night to find Abed diligently working. He realizes that the power of chicken is waning, and he’s trying to find some other fried delight with which to replace it. Jeff takes pity on Abed, and they have a heart to heart that ends with Abed having to choose between pop culture reenactments and choosing to sit with Jeff on top of a table like in Sixteen Candles while they share a plate of chicken fingers. Abed ends up quitting his job as fry cook to save Jeff’s ego, and the study group goes back to normal, once again under Jeff’s control.

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