Community recap: The gang does Thanksgiving in March

What’s up, turkeys? It’s Thanksgivingtime! Community is seriously playing with our minds this season: First it’s Halloween in February, now it’s Thanksgiving in March. Sandwiched in between there was a fun trip back to Nazi-era Germany. OR WAS THERE?

Allow me a small digression to last week’s episode before we delve into Thanksgiving high jinks, won’t you? My recap last week centered on the episode’s many Holocaust references. They seemed obvious to me. So obvious, in fact, that I assumed they’d be obvious to everyone. (Calling them references isn’t even quite right. The entire conceit and concept of the episode was that Greendale itself had become a war zone.) And yet, according to the interwebs, last week’s INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS HOLOCAUST-THEMED COMMUNITY wasn’t about the Holocaust at all. Hmph.

Go ahead and see if you can find another recap that even mentions it. This is mindboggling to me. Loads of times I read other writers’ Community recaps and they’ll have gotten an entire level of meaning that I missed. I’ll think to myself, I am so dumb. These other writers must have graduated summa cum laude and not just magna cum laude, like I did [humblebrag]. This was not one of those times. To recount the number of references to World War II and the Holocaust in last week’s episode would be impossible because there were so many of them. (Okay, I like impossible tasks: the gang is gassed, Shirley’s wearing an SS insignia, “It smells like human barbecue,” the constant mentions of Hogan’s Heroes, the gray, downtrodden trek to Greendale on day 3 of the Battle for the Study Room, CALLING JEFF HITLER. The list, like Schindler’s, goes on and on.) And yet, not only didn’t anyone else mention it, one commenter on Twitter went so far as to say in response to my recap that the episode wasn’t about the Holocaust. What the hell was it about then?

Are people just drawing a distinction between the Holocaust and World War II? (Admittedly, we didn’t do much of that in Hebrew school. The war and the extinction of our people all fell under the same general Holocausty umbrella.) Or are they arguing that it was purely about the German invasion, the victim-or-vanquished hypothetical Prof. Cornwallis posited at the beginning? Anyway, aren’t all those things inextricably linked? Can you talk about Hitler without talking about the Holocaust? Can you show the study group being gassed in an episode about the German invasion and not have it be about the Holocaust??? An alternate theory: Did I accidentally eat an entire pan of pot brownies while watching Community (again) and see something completely different than all the other recappers did?

I mentioned my confusion to people who watch the show. A few were as perplexed as I was, but more had a reaction that was kind of like, “Oh, huh. Yeah, I guess I could see it being about the Holocaust. I didn’t really get that.” I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT TV SHOW THESE PEOPLE WATCHED.

Truthfully, I was most surprised at the lack of Holocaust references in last Friday-morning’s Community coverage because I expected the web to be lit up with mild outrage and questions of “Have they gone too far?” In this era of extreme sensitivity about satire (see also: Quvenzhané Wallis), I figured people would be up in arms over this episode. (I wasn’t—I thought it was hilarious and well done—but I’d have understood if people were.) I half-expected an email from my mother (Mom, stop Googling me!), asking if my favorite TV show is anti-Semitic. But no one was offended. No one was anything. Some people loved it, some people didn’t, nobody mentioned the H word. Which means either there are many Holocaust (episode) deniers out there or gold star for me for being the only recapper on the planet to get one of the most obvious Community themes ever. (Gold star also because I’m Jewish. #holocausthumor #welaughthroughthepain.)


ANYWAY. When were we? Right, Greendale. Hi! It’s that magical time of year when you leave your school friends and head back to whatever place you came from and within five minutes of being there decide you need to get drunk and/or look for earlier flights back to school and/or both.

In sitcomland, nobody lives far away and nobody’s parents guilt them into spending the day with them (or don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or are dead or abandoned them), so it’s off to Shirley’s for everyone, Well, everyone but Jeff, who OMG IS GOING TO MEET HIS DAD! Britta is the best thera-pist in the world! Also? Jeff has a half-brother. (Oh my god, I hope he’s half as hot as Jeff.)
Time for Winger to put on his big-boy boxer briefs and go meet Daddy. (Nope. Too scared. Cue running.)

Shirley’s “He Is Risen” apron! Yay. Andre’s working, so it’s just Shirley and the in-laws, including a very judgmental, farty farther-in-law. Abed brought expired dip. (This will not help with the fartiness.) Where’s Britta?

Oh, she’s at Jeff’s dad’s house. Angry face.

Everyone’s hiding in Shirley’s garage because Thanksgiving at her house is like Thanksgiving at anyone’s house. I worry most for innocent Jehovah’s Witness Troy, who knows not of such traditions. (I worried less for him on his 21st/first birthday because of all the booze.) Time to Shawshank this bitch.

James Brolin!!! No hugs, no apologies, no expectations. No hot half-brother, either, only mildly Jack Black–ish seeming half-brother. (Oh, it’s that guy from Pitch Perfect and Workaholics. Hi, Willie Jr.)

Back in Thanksgiving hell, Annie’s got her (faux) monthly shame. Impromptu gynecological exam. (Quick survey: unexpected pap smear=better or worse than your last Thanksgiving?)

With Jeff and his dad sharing stuff (Jeff’s future: a full head of hair, lots of sexytimes and maybe many meals of Glucerna), Britta’s left with no one to Britta. Lucky for her, Willie Jr. is a jangly mess. And lucky also that there are rolls. How else to do roll play? Turns out Willie’s mom died 20 years ago and Jeff’s dad got stuck raising him. And yet Jeff’s still the one who ended up Mr. Helper Guy with a shirt. Jeff’s the one who ended up strong and not like wet cheese. Jeff’s the one who turned out like his dad. (Except not really and this point will definitely be coming to a monologue near you, I think. Let’s wait and see.)

Tag-team turkey day is never ending. Time to get serious: two-year-old siete-layer dip for the win. It’s the only way.

Over at the Wingers’, James Brolin is proud of his son (which is not a sentence that should appear anywhere else any time soon. Side note: Diane Lane, I love you, you are amazing). And here’s what else: He’s taking credit for Jeff’s success. Maybe his leaving is what made Jeff Jeff. You know, the kind of guy who has the strength to tell his egotistical, deluded dad to go to hell. (You go, Jeff. Up with rage.)

Food-poisoning plan foiled. Shirley’s onto them—and apologetic. Turns out she only wanted the gang there for support. (WHAT A BITCH.) Andre’s family is not super nice to her (and they are farty), so she was hoping her friends would be there to take the edge off. (Oh god, even when Shirley is sincere and magnanimous, guilt is still her currency.)

Oops, Jeff’s got a stowaway. Willie Jr. wants to learn how to be dead inside with muscles on top, too. (If Jeff is going to teach him how to do this, I want to watch.) Wingerlogue: Willie can’t run away now, he’s emotional, his dad needs to know that, he has to tell him the truth. Oh wait, I get it: Willie is Jeff’s human side. His human half, you might say. (That one really was obvious, right, you guys? As obvious as a Holocaust episode, you might say? Sorry, moving on.) Anyway, Winger Sr. should know. (Also, Britta’s the worst.)

Reckoning time: Jeff is not well-adjusted. Jeff is broken. Jeff faked appendicitis (but for real stabbed himself in the gut with a pair of scissors). Jeff texts imaginary people. (This is somehow the most crushing detail of them all.) FAKE HEART ATTACK. What a dick. Aww, bro-hug. (I kind of want Willie Jr. to come visit Greendale. Couldn’t you sort of see him with Annie?) (And Britta totally wants to sleep with Jeff again, which means all will soon be right in the world.)

Ohhhh, Thanksgiving at Greendale. (Kvelling.) Shawshank homage. Nondescript ’70s tune Troy was humming right before Annie crushed Abed’s Batman DVD. Escape pipe. (We do Thanksgiving at my parents’ in Manhattan. If anyone knows how I can craft an escape pipe on the 27th floor, please leave your notes in the comments. I’m just kidding, I actually really love Thanksgiving. Whoops, apologies—didn’t somebody say no mushy stuff?)

Gobble gobble, you guys. See you at Christmas. (I promise not to spend the whole holiday talking about the Holocaust.)

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Carla Sosenko

Carla Sosenko is a writer and editor from Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Self, Jezebel, The Hairpin, The NY International Fringe Festival and some other places. She received her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, where she majored in choppy sentences. Carla thanks you for reading her words and kindly asks you to read more of them at Follow her @carlasosenko. She thinks you rule.

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