Ever since the pilot of Community first aired on September 17th, 2009 the show has proven to be a program filled to the brim with pop culture references. Some of them have been quite obvious like when Abed dressed up like Batman to the obscure like when Beetlejuice showed up in the background of a shot because his name was said once each season. But sometimes the Greendale Seven like to take a whole episode to do a reference and below are five great examples.
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Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
Some of the more iconic images of Christmas time come from the classic Claymation holiday specials that air in December with the most famous of those being "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Now when Abed’s has a bit of a breakdown before the gang goes on holiday break he begins to see the world through Rankin/Bass lenses. All of his friends become Claymation holiday toys and it’s up to them to find true meaning of Christmas. Now when it comes time to find out what the true meaning of Christmas really is, Abed opens a present to find the first season of "Lost", which is symbolizes a lack of payoff due it not really being the true meaning of Christmas. This sounds a bit dark, but later on when Abed’s friends come to side he realizes that the true meaning of Christmas is that it can mean anything you want it to; which in the end is good sound advice from a Claymation Christmas special.
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Critical Film Studies
This episode actually had two amazing film homages in it. When this episode was about to air there were a bunch of commercials touting this as the Greendale gang does "Pulp Fiction", which only ended up being half true. The other half of the pop culture pie that this episode is was a great play on a classic movie called My Dinner with Andre. Now if you haven’t seen that movie it doesn’t change the impact of the episode because it’s about two friends that used to spend time together trying to reconnect through a conversation. It can get awkward and it can weird which it does in this episode (Abed’s story about "Cougar Town" is quite odd). In the "Pulp Fiction" aspect of the episode, it was priceless to see Chevy Chase in the Gimp costume.
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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons has since its creation had somewhat of a stigma attached to it. It has long since been associated with nerds and geeks playing it in parent’s bedrooms which it true in some cases but not always. The greatest game of Dungeons & Dragons in fact was played in the Greendale study room to help save a fellow student’s life. Now the reasons why this game has to be played is that Jeff unknowingly created a hurtful nickname for a fellow student, he once referenced Neil as “Fat” Neil which caused him to fall into a depression. Jeff then enlists the rest of the study group, except for Pierce, to play a game to bring up Neil’s spirits. But once Pierce gets wind of a game that’s being played without him he trusts himself into the fantasy world to become the villain. What makes this episode great is that is that it greatly takes place around a table with people describing the action, much like a real game of Dungeons & Dragons.
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Digital Estate Planning
Much like Abed’s "Uncontrollable Christmas", this episode did something amazing with visuals. Instead of doing Claymation, this episode went with a more modern approach with 8-bit video games. According to the will left by Pierce's father, Pierce and seven of his friends must play a video game to see who would get his inheritance. But since Pierce’s friends aren’t evil they decide to help him get to the end and get huge amounts of money. Now with any video game there has to be a villain and this episode/game had two. It has Pierce’s dead Uncle Sanders-lke father and his new found brother Gilbert. If you know anything about video games then there are tons of hidden jokes throughout this episode but if you don’t it okay, the story of long lost brothers coming together and overcoming their overbearing father is moving.
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Zombies are a huge part of our culture now. They have invaded our movies, games, and just about everything else there is. For Community to do a zombie episode should be a tricky thing because how do you make characters that need to return next week members of the walking dead? You make the Dean of Greendale buy hazardous taco meat from the army that gives everyone a strange case of food poisoning that makes people bite others and slows their motor skills. Now as the Greendale crew finds out there is a true danger to everyone who is a “zombie” will suffer brain damage if their fevers don’t break. It then comes down to Troy in his homemade Aliens exosuit cargo-loader to adjust the thermostat to freezing in order to bring fevers down. As all of the Greendale’s students get better, the Army comes in and doses them to never remember that night happened.
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