Happy 10th anniversary to “Epidemiology,” Community lovers! Can you believe an entire decade has passed since Dean Pelton’s epic Halloween playlist that consisted of ABBA tunes and his voice memos took the world by storm? This episode is, hands down, one of my favorite Community installments of all time. It brilliantly plays on the sometimes tired zombie and horror movie tropes to perfection. If you thought ABBA and Greendale debauchery couldn’t possibly mix … you thought wrong. For this retrospective, I’d like to take a look back at why this episode is Community‘s best foray into spooky territory. 

The plot!
Still of Danny Pudi and Donald Glover in Community's "Epidemiology."

Pictured: Danny Pudi and Donald Glover

“Epidemiology” boasts a premise that truly befits Greendale’s modus operandi. A rabies outbreak takes hold during the campus Halloween party from, of all things, tainted food. As a result, everyone starts acting like zombies, including biting people to “turn” them. Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), dressed as Lady Gaga, quarantines the students until the military arrives. As you do at any Halloween celebration. In true Community fashion, chaos ensues and there’s loads of running from the undead set to ABBA songs. It’s pitch perfect.

Additionally, some of my favorite Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) moments are in “Epidemiology.” Remember when Troy donned what looked like tissue paper around his shoulders that simply said “Dracula”? He claimed he was a “cool, sexy Dracula who made love to ladies and survived.” I believed him too. Do you recall when Abed urged Troy to “be the first Black man to make it to the end”? I really dug that Community poked fun at that particular horror movie trope as well.

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The one-liners!

Troy: “I love you.” Abed: “I know.” Naturally, our favorite best friends in the morning and beyond would make a Star Wars reference in a high-stakes apocalyptic scenario. The one-liners in “Epidemiology” are side-splitting, folks. “I don’t need to know which Dracula I am to be a Dracula. Nerd,” is another superb one-liner from Troy that’s all the funnier because of Glover’s delivery. “Add Eat, Pray, Love soundtrack to workout mix” is a very Dean Pelton comment and it makes me giggle every time I hear it. “Leonard, you better back that pumpkin ass up or I will make a pie” from Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is a, well, quintessentially Shirley line. It’s resplendent. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) remarking on how she’s special because she was bitten 10 minutes prior shows just how much she’s Britta-ed the situation (but we love her anyway).

In short, “Epidemiology” is rife with witty one-liners because that’s the way Community‘s cookie crumbles. Not to mention, George Takei‘s voiceover at the end is the cherry on top. 

The “zombies!” 

Funnily enough, this episode aired merely three days before The Walking Dead premiered its pilot. Did Community possess a knack for prescience that we never fully comprehended back then? Most likely. Or perhaps Dan Harmon and co. watched a ton of zombie flicks. Troy battling the infected masses solo after everyone succumbed to rabies was pure, unadulterated gold. In fact, Troy won the entire episode for me. The random, presumably rabies-laden cat zooming to and fro in the basement was hysterical. Troy commenting on how Jeff (Joel McHale) was still cool as a zombie was perfect. Hey, the dude donned a $6,000 suit as a David Beckham costume and stoically stood still zombified, just typing away on his phone. Texting no one, of course, because everyone he knew was in the study room. 

The costumes! 
Still of Gillian Jacobs and Joel McHale in Community's "Epidemiology."

Pictured: Gillian Jacobs and Joel McHale

Chang (Ken Jeong) dressed as Peggy Fleming for the spooky occasion, but Jeff and Britta both guessed Asian figure skaters when Chang asked them who they thought he was. “Peggy Fleming. You’ve just been proven racist by the racist prover.” You got Chang-ed, folks! Shirley donned a Glinda the Good Witch costume to which folks assumed was Miss Piggy. Annie (Alison Brie) was, naturally, Little Red Riding Hood. Abed wore an Alien-inspired costume, because of course he would. Pierce (Chevy Chase) wore a Captain Kirk costume. Rich (Greg Cromer), Annie’s doctor beau, dressed up as a very helpful banana. Britta was a dinosaur because sexy girl costumes reek of misogyny and only serve the patriarchy. She’ll never be done raging against the machine. 

Overall, my favorite costume is a tie between Troy and Dean Pelton. They’d win the nonexistent Greendale Costume Contest in my book. 

“Epidemiology” is a fun homage to horror movies, zombie apocalypses and general Community malarkey. It’s left an indelible mark in Greendale’s historic legacy. You might even say it’s “streets ahead.” Plus, the tiny, baby quarantine our Greendale Seven had to endure hits close to home these days. If only our current situation could be summarized as a “tiny, baby quarantine.” If only …

RELATED: Top 5 Halloween TV Episodes Part Deux

What do you love most about “Epidemiology,” Community fans? Sound off in the comments below!


This article was originally published 10/28/20

Melody McCune
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