“Freaky Friday” is one movie I actually enjoyed watching years ago (yes, the remake with Lindsay Lohan – before she fell off the deep end – and Jamie Lee-Curtis). It’s a really interesting concept, really – if you could switch places for a certain amount of time with someone else, would you? In “Freaky Friday,” a mother and daughter magically switch bodies and only switch back once they fully appreciate each other. In “Community,” Troy and Abed… well, okay, they didn’t actually switch places or personalities. They pretended to, and the results were both painful and enlightening for both parties involved, as well as Jeff and Britta.
Jeff and the rest of the study group are desperate to get a good grade on their final History project. Since Annie and Shirley are striving to become valedictorian and Jeff needs to pass the class for graduation, everyone desires a passing grade. The group decides to create banners for their project, and Annie and Shirley point out that the following day day marks the one-year anniversary of Troy and Britta’s first date. The pair, awkwardly, doesn’t recall this date but agree that they should probably celebrate it and plan to go out for lunch. Meanwhile, Troy DOES remember that this particular day marks the three-year anniversary of the time he and Abed watched “Freaky Friday” together. In celebration, the athlete bought his best friend a plethora of body-swapping movies. In the pile, of course, is “Freaky Friday.” The two grab onto either end of the DVD case and, in unison, respond: “I wish I could switch places with you for just one day!”
The lights flicker, the room spins (well, okay, technically a janitor is testing out a light switch and the guys are spinning around themselves), and just like that… nothing happens. However, the following morning, Troy and Abed wake up as each other! Dun, dun, dun! It’s clear to the audience and to the rest of the group that no one really did switch bodies. But the young men commit to it, so Abed-as-Troy goes out on a date with Britta, while Troy-as-Abed stays at Greendale. They’re stuck like that, he insists to Jeff, until they can find the “Freaky Friday” DVD (which is, of course, lost). Only then can they switch back.
(Jeff, of course, is not buying any of the body-swapping.) Intent on making Troy and Abed switch back so that everyone can completely focus on their History project, he buys a new “Freaky Friday” movie and approaches Dean Pelton with a proposal: the guys will know, if he hands it to them, that he bought rather than found the DVD. So he requests that the dean give it to them, instead. Rather than help Jeff, the dean has an idea of his own: he pretends to switch bodies with a now extremely frustrated Jeff, and adopts the former lawyer’s personality for the remainder of the day.
Elsewhere in the school, Annie and Shirley plan to take down Leonard, who is the reigning valedictorian and end up conspiring with Dean Pelton (who’s imitating Jeff) in order to do so. Meanwhile, Abed-as-Troy and Britta are on their date together, where things go from awkward to sad quite quickly: as it turns out, Abed-as-Troy and Troy-as-Abed reveal (to Britta and Jeff, respectively) that Troy wants to break up with Britta. The young woman is stunned and evidently disappointed. The whole benefit, Troy-as-Abed reveals to Jeff, essentially, for their body-swapping was that Troy could avoid the pain of confronting Britta.
But Jeff speaks truth into Troy-as-Abed (who is and has been, of course, Troy the entire time): it was brave of the young man to put himself out there – to commit to a relationship. It’s something Jeff admires in Troy. But, he emphasizes, he becomes a man when he puts EVERYTHING out there, and that includes painfully facing the reality that he and Britta are over by talking to Britta for himself. And that is exactly what he does. Troy and Abed “switch back” at the restaurant, where Troy and Britta decide to remain friends.
The episode ends with Pierce having done the group’s project all by himself (and quite well, actually!), and Dean Pelton admitting that he pretended to be Jeff the entire day just for fun. In the final moments, as the study group walks out of the room, Britta tugs on Troy’s hand and the two embrace – paralleling, quite beautifully, how they began their relationship.
“Basic Human Anatomy” was written by “Community” co-star and Academy Award winner Jim Rash and you can definitely tell that he is intimately acquainted with these characters and their stories. He wrote a beautiful, funny, and sad episode that really encompassed what “Community” is all about.