Jeff and Shirley find they are bonding over gossiping about people, especially about Britta’s new, super-laid back boyfriend Vaughn. Annie tricks invites Abed and Troy to be part of a social psychology experiment, but freaks out when Abed fails to behave as expected. Meanwhile, Pierce buys an “ear-nocular” allowing him to listen to other people’s conversations. Vaughn breaks up with Britta after he realizes that she shared his love poem to Jeff, who shared it with Shirley, who shared it with the rest of the group. Jeff and Shirley agree to stop gossiping together.
Eric Christian Olsen, who plays Vaughn in this and three other episodes of the show, also appeared in a whole lot of episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, apparently. He is not to be confused with Erik Charles Nielsen, who debuts here as Garrett (the student who leaves Duncan’s psychology lab), a character he’ll play in another 42 episodes across the whole run of the series. Dino Stamatopoulos reappears here for the first time as Starburns, though like his initial appearance in Spanish 101, he’s uncredited. John Oliver makes his second appearance as Professor Duncan.
Social Psychology is a pretty good episode, which continues to reveal that Britta is a lot more flaky than she first appeared, with her strange relationship with Vaughn and unwillingness to treat it seriously. However, there’s still the idea that underneath it all, she’s a pretty together person, but the show seems to be working hard to drum this idea out of our minds
Of course, the focus of the episode is still Jeff’s ongoing attempts to win Britta, so that alone marks it as a product of the show’s first season. That plotline is all right for what it is, but I’m looking forward to seeing that character go to some other, more surprising places. What is appreciated here is the development of the rest of the cast. Shirley especially is given some very good material, and the subplot with Annie and the psychology lab is really her best development yet. It’s nice to see her and Abed beginning to become friends.
And I got a big kick out of seeing both Chang and Duncan this time around. Both of them were quite funny, really more so than most of the material with the students. I like Duncan saying, “Houston, we have an idiot” during his experiment, and also “Fine! Go ahead and kill John Lennon again, you loser!” at the departing Garrett. And especially his screaming at Abed, “Damn you, you outlying piece of datum!”
Chang is still an awkward presence–one feels like his material is written later just to showcase Ken Jeong, and then inserted into other scripts. But really, he’s such a werido that it makes it interesting to have him around.
There are references to Indiana Jones, and the idea that there are three good movies but the fourth one was terrible. Jeff says his life is like an episode of Degrassi High.
Abed compares his relationship with Annie with two characters from the sit-com Friends, indicating the most clearly so far the way he sees his life as a TV show.
• Chang once again cries racist. He did this in the other episode he appeared in as well.
• “All hearing is sonic,” says Abed.
• And Shirley gets to say, about Vaughn, “I hope he doesn’t try to handsome her to death.”
• Shirley gets a lot of good lines here. For example, she says to Jeff, “Did you know we walk the same way after class? I’m sure you didn’t or else we would’ve been walking together, Unless you’re a jerk. Just kidding.”
• Annie continues to display amount of attraction to Troy in a small way.
• Troy, when he finally breaks down during the experiment, apparently yells, “The soul train awards were tonight!”
• Abed says, “Cool”. Has he done this before?
• Abed gets to deliver an effective dramatic zinger, after Annie asks him why he didn’t leave the experiment: “Because you asked me to stay and you said we were friends.”
• I like it when Troy is first wondering and then certain about different things still being part of the experiment.
• More good Shirley stuff: “This isn’t even the only study group I’ve had this year.
You see those ladies over there? I used to be in their group till they kicked me out.
They call me ‘Tattle-Ina’. It’s a bumblebee nickname. It’s–It’s cute, but it stings.”
• Also, when she expresses how she and Jeff will have nothing to talk about if they don’t gossip, and then she talks about his career as a doctor. “I was a lawyer,” says Jeff. “See? I’m already bored,” Shirley replies.
• Love it when Vaughn responds to his stoner friend when he says, “No worries.” “Some worries, man, some worries, ” and the way that blows the mind of the friend.
Troy and Abed make fun of people through the library window before they can realize that they can be heard clearly by everyone.
Most Inspired Moment
There are a number of funny lines but my favorite is the very end, when Troy and Abed get caught by the people they are mocking. “Just pretend like you’re asleep,” says Troy.