We’re counting down the days to Thanksgiving by looking at a variety of Thanksgiving-themed TV episodes. Thanksgiving episodes are all different, but they have lots of tropes in common. Today we’re looking at the Community episode “Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations.”
Directed by: Tristram Shapeero
Written by: Stephen Basilone & Annie Mebane
Episode Number: Season 4, Episode 5
Where to Watch It: Hulu
This is a big episode for the found family trope. In one plotline, Jeff sees his dad William for the first time in decades. He also meets his half-brother Willy Jr. The evening seems to be going okay and William even expresses his pride towards Jeff, but then he implies that by walking out on him, he pushed Jeff to independence. Jeff stands up to him and makes him here about all the emotional damage he caused and asserts that he did not turn out okay.
Meanwhile, Annie, Pierce, Troy and Abed attend dinner at Shirley’s house. They can’t stand Shirley’s in-laws and spend the evening hiding out in the garage. When they realize that Shirley is as miserable hosting her in-laws as they are, the group has a bonding moment.
In the end, they find a beautiful meal Jeff has set up. He says that it’s time for them to have dinner with their real family: the one they chose.
In the opening scene, Britta tries to invite herself to dinner at Jeff’s dad’s house. She tells him that she’ll bring a vegan pumpkin pie. When Jeff says she’s not invited, she says, “Fine. Regular pumpkin pie.” In the same scene, Jeff breaks the news to Troy that there are yams underneath the marshmallows in marshmallow casserole. Troy says, “I knew it was too good to be true.”
No football in this one.
Somehow this sitcom managed to do a Thanksgiving episode without a glib reference to colonialism.