This Week's 'Community': The Fried Chicken Mafia

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This week's Community was all about power, be it Capitalism, social influence, or control over the Greendale cafeteria deep-fryer. The episode was also a pretty good instruction manual in how to construct a referential joke: take a cultural element—like a mafia movie, or Tyler Perry's moralism—add discordant element—like substituting a chicken finger shortage for control over the heroin trade—and deliver with dead seriousness. The trouble started when Jeff, frustrated by the lack of the only edible lunch offering in the cafeteria, came up with a plan to depose Starburns, replace him with Abed, and guarantee the study group a steady supply of fried chicken:


But Abed and the group became drunk with the power that comes when people are willing to trade large-screen televisions, monkeys, and designer backpacks for chickeny goodness:


Jeff tried to intervene. But what had started out as a fantasy of a mafia movie for Abed had turned into something more profound: a way for him to understand human motivation and social interaction, and to successfully carve out a place for himself in the social hierarchy for the first time. "The entire campus is controlled by our group. Our group is controlled by chicken," Abed explains to Jeff in his newly-discovered lair. "And the chicken is controlled by me."


But the family becomes ungrateful, and Abed has his revenge to bring them back in line. The retribution is particularly bitter for Shirley, who catches Abed tantalizing her new boyfriend with fast food:


But in the end, Jeff persuades Abed to give up his stranglehold on the Greendale cafeteria economy in exchange for lessons in how to make friends without establishing a cartel:

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Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture writer with The Washington Post.

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