14. Contemporary American Poultry (Season 1, Episode 21)
The Story: Jeff’s plan to get chicken fingers from the school cafeteria for the study group quickly evolves into a mafia movie-style endeavor with Abed calling all the shots.
Why It’s On The List: “Contemporary American Poultry” is a Goodfellas parody, with Abed in Ray Liotta’s role, and while I am sure there’s still plenty to love about the episode without basic knowledge of the Scorsese mafia film, the episode was definitely one that is immeasurably improved by having seen it. There are a number of episodes like this that parodied specific movies instead of genres (“Critical Film Studies” parody of My Dinner with Andre, for instance), and it was both to the series’ credit and detriment. Dan Harmon almost insisted on having a pop-culture savvy audience, and while that was great for building a cult following, it also alienated a lot of less pop-culture savvy viewers.
Zachary Hewitt is a Chicago-born California-based writer/editor with over six years of experience creating smart and compelling content for various high-profile brands, including Life & Style Weekly and the American Kennel Club. He considers himself a pop culture fanatic who spends way too much time binging shows on Netflix and scrolling through Twitter.