Community’s Dan Harmon says an episode’s theme was “cursed” during production
Turns out her first attempt at the episode was in Season 1. “We tried to do a very similar one last season, where Jeff becomes the puppeteer behind Troy’s new political career — one that’s being sparked by a chicken finger shortage — and the chart that was read for the script was so crappy that we threw the whole thing out,” Dan Harmon explained. The episode was rewritten to be “Contemporary American Poultry” using the same chicken finger shortage storyline and centered around Jeff and Abed, not Jeff and Troy.
This episode is one of the highlights of the first season, mostly because not only does it have one of the funniest and sharpest scripts, but it also offers a really interesting look at Abed and Jeff and the unique relationship between the two. We’re not used to seeing Jeff without his control of the group, nor are we used to seeing Abed having everyone wrapped around his finger.
In the end, Jeff and Abed talk about how they benefit from each other: Jeff teaches Abed to be more sociable, and Abed keeps Jeff from becoming overly manipulative with his social skills. Contemporary American Poultry understands that if you want to build your A-plot around character relationships, you need to tell us something new and interesting about character relationships.
A season later, the writers took another take on a politically themed episode, and in Harmon’s own words, “It was a freaking disaster. Up front you’d say, ‘Holy shit, this story does it not wants to be said.'”