SPOILER WARNING: This essay discusses in depth the endings of an episode of Community, a 35-year-old movie, and a classic piece of sketch comedy. If you are reading this, you are probably already familiar with Community’s twist. The Shining works perfectly fine even if you know the ending. But if you have not seen the Key & Peele bit yet, do yourself a favor and watch it before reading.

When I took on this assignment, I thought I was going to be able to cover a whole survey of Shining homages. But then I realized that besides Chang’s misadventures in “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality,” the only other one I am really familiar with is the Key & Peele sketch “Continental Breakfast.” So I looked up some more to make sure that my suspicion of their proliferance was correct. There’s a 2014 IKEA commercial in which a Danny bikes around a store. The Simpsons did it (“Treehouse of Horror V”). So of course Family Guy also did it. There are plenty of directions one can take with a Shining parody: hammy Jack Nicholson impressions, creepy little kid acting, Shelly Duvall’s big eyes, etc. Focusing on a comparison between Community and Key & Peele is instructive because the crux of both homages is the ending and what they say about the nature of reality.

More