'Community' interview: Jim Rash on why body-switching to break-up Britta and Troy in 'Basic Human Anatomy'
Even in an episode that affirms the life partnership of Troy and Abed, another relationship must fail. While "Basic Human Anatomy" did see the bittersweet ending to the yearlong (happy anniversary?) Troy-Britta coupling, at least the show tore them apart with flair. We interviewed Jim Rash -- who did double duty as Dean Pelton and the writer of this episode -- about how body-switching was the right way to close this chapter of "Community."
Why did you use body-switching to end things between Troy and Britta?
Jim Rash: We realized this was a great opportunity, because the main focus of this was Troy and Britta. And that was sort of the thing that we knew we wanted to accomplish, to deal with their relationship. This just felt like a great way to do it and also give it that "Community" version -- a realistic way of doing a body-switching story. Where reality was not broken, it was just the characters' choice.
What was behind Troy's choice to go this route?
Jim Rash: This really was an emotional way for Troy to have basically a little nervous breakdown about 'how do you do this'? To run away from something he is not familiar with.
It gave an opportunity for both Troy and Abed to learn more about each other and advance their friendship, and for Troy and Britta to have an ending to a relationship that was very "Community"-esque -- it started off-screen, really. There were all these little takes and little hints. But we came into this season and they had already progressed. I think it was a nice sort of quiet way to remind themselves that they are friends and there is deep love there.
Since Troy and Abed weren't the only ones switching bodies in this episode, what was it like to play the Dean playing Jeff?
Jim Rash: You know, it was the Dean trying his best to be Jeff, as opposed to the perfect world where we really switch and I really get in there. But it's like the Dean's version -- it's so bad. It's just bravado, but at least he thought of some clever sarcasms. He didn't think to get an actual phone to do his bit where he texts.
It was a lot of fun because also in between playing "Jeff 2", I could kind of give Joel [McHale] s**t. "I'm doing exactly your outtakes!" which is always a lot of fun to rib each other about.
Why did the body-switching end with just Troy, Abed and the Dean?
Even though Jeff has already played the Dean in a sense in the documentary episode -- a very heightened version based on me -- I tried to play with a beat where Jeff plays the Dean in hopes that he could, use his "me" to end this bit. It didn't quite feel right that he would go to that length. [Troy and Abed] are playing the bit for real
For awhile I was playing with the idea of everybody having to get involved and play each other, but it didn't quite -- it sort of ruined the simplicity of what happened.
"Community" airs Thursdays at 8pm on NBC.