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My girlfriend and I recently marathoned all of Community so far and we're now all about Community. So I'm very new, and all these thoughts I've deemed necessary to vomit all over my locked journal are first-watch-only thoughts with no (or very little) extra-canonical information, and you will be quite right to challenge my conclusions or processing. They're also not very organized. Nonetheless, here they are.

Spoilers, obvs.


Britta feels

My girlfriend asked me at one point which Community character I think I'm most like, and I had to think for just a couple of moments (I am usually very indecisive about these things) before I said Britta.

Ways Britta is NOT like me:
- Thin and conventionally attractive.
- Wants to be a therapist.
- Appears to be an extrovert, or at least somewhere in the middle.
- Likes damaged men (and is straight).
- Not a media geek.

Ways in which Britta and I are alike:
- Wired badly.
- Likely to pick up social justice causes she doesn't entirely understand and end up looking hypocritical, judgmental, and/or like a poser.
- Fun vampire.
- Unsexy Halloween costumes.
- General fashion sense, actually, except for the loosely curled glamour hair and pink lipstick, neither of which I'd wear.
- Realized she was getting older and decided to go back to school.
- Picked a major based on the kind of person she wished she was as well as what she was interested in, rather than what her natural talents would suggest.
- Self-sabotage.
- Tendency to fail at everything through lack of planning or because she made a small mistake, usually because she wasn't paying enough attention to detail ("brittaing").
- That is precisely how I would handle breaking up with Troy Barnes. It hurt to watch because I over-identified, which might mean I have this all wrong, but the way I saw it was that it hurt not because she loved Troy so much, because I think she knows she loves him better as a friend, but because it's still rejection and this is Britta, and I'll bet anything she's never loved a boyfriend as much as she loves Troy as a friend, and she's got to be wondering what's wrong with her, and if she's even capable of loving a boyfriend like that. BRITTA FEELS~

On a completely different note, remember that time Britta and Chang got into a kind of a roleplay D/s relationship over his need to dominate and her need to rebel?



I've never seen a character like Britta. There must be people out there who are offended by her activism being a joke, but I can so relate to her being pulled between a desire to do good and her position in a relatively safe life, with its pressures to conform and forget. She's only repeating convincing words she heard before without bringing anything new to the table or making any kind of a difference at all.

Oh, Britta.



Final thought: I don't think the difference between first season Britta and later Britta was that she got less smart; it's rather that we're not supposed to take her seriously anymore. She has all the same flaws and the same merits later on, it's just that her status in the group has gone down.

I like Britta an awful lot.



Pairings

So yeah, the show makes a point that any of the Greendale 7 could theoretically date any of the others.

Here are some I'd like to see explored in canon:

- Annie/Abed - because there are a lot of little nods in the first season, and while they kissed, it doesn't count if it's Han/Leia or Don Draber/Annie... or Hector/elf maiden... boy those two do a lot of roleplay. Anyway, so, I'd like them to at least address the reason why not, or have them date/have sex/something!

- Jeff/Shirley - I know this would be really hard to write into the show in any way other than Hulked-out Jeff being inappropriate to Shirley at a Bar Mitzvah, but I love it how he brings out the bad in her. I wish there was some way the show could get Jeff and Shirley in the sack without it being a sad thing for Andre and the kids (and therefore Shirley too).

- It would probably be jumping the shark, but come on, Troy and Abed. Troy is totally in love with Abed and it would be nice to see that acknowledged in a way that isn't all haha-not-really-everybody-is-heterosexual-here.

- Okay, this isn't a within-the-group thing, but I'd love for Britta to have a genuine same-sex relationship. It's established she never has, but if she's moved on from dating jackasses who treat her like shit to dating a friend, and that didn't work, I'd rather see her expand her horizons than go back to jackasses.

- I didn't say Annie/Britta because it's just a question of available female, even if they've had the occasional mud wrestle.

NOW LET ME TALK TO YOU ABOUT JEFF/BRITTA.

S1/S2E1 Britta/Jeff was the best thing because of all the things it wasn't, mainly that it was never ever a love story. It was a bit of a friendship story, wrapped inside a hate story.

They actually resolved the storyline through hate-dating. Oh my god.

My favourite early thing about Britta was how (the way Gillian Jacobs played it) Jeff genuinely turned her off because he was obviously a gross pig. "Lack of chemistry" is right. We get later canon that while Britta likes douchebags, she also likes them to work low-paying jobs and sport facial hair and possibly tattoos; a kind of an outside-the-system flavour (exhibits: Vaughn, pizza guy in Remedial Chaos Theory, Blade). Jeff represents a rich, privileged, self-satisfied class and it's not her thing; she sees the more privileged people as the enemy.

(Britta likes men who think they are better than her because she doesn't respect herself; the outside-the-system bit is just aligning them with her ideology as well. If they treat her like an equal, she instinctively feels that they're not worth admiring and adoring, because she doesn't think she's worth admiring. And that would have been the problem with Troy from her point of view. He was her effort to date someone who doesn't devalue her, but you can't just turn off self-hate or established patterns of attraction. Even though it was Troy who broke up with Britta, I think she always knew there was something missing.)

With a set-up like Jeff and Britta had, you could see the "she's just covering up her true desire for Jeff which he will triumphantly unveil by making a small token effort towards being less of a douchebag" storyline hurtling towards you. It is not my favourite storyline and it's so damn common. But as the season progressed and Britta remained unfazed, I was slowly starting to get impressed. Except, of course, the storyline did materialize in the end. I was really disappointed.

Except! Britta only gets interested in Jeff after Jeff starts dating Professor Slater. And yes they wrote it in that she got interested because Jeff was displaying signs of being a decent boyfriend, but at the unfortunately named dance she was still uninterested (paintball notwithstanding) until the competition with Slater began and got out of hand. I don't think Britta ever, even for a moment, loved Jeff. Obviously there was sexual interest, which might have been overflow from mere sexual availability or the tension of their constant competition, as well as a budding appreciation for him as a person.

(I don't think Slater loved Jeff either, though she might have wanted to date him more than Britta did at the start of the competition. BTW, I think Slater and Jeff were great together, because she could hold her own against him, and then some. But I know relationships with supporting characters don't last; they're just narrative devices.)

And the glory that was S2E1: the hatedating.

My favourite thing about Jeff/Britta is that they are horrible, broken, jagged people who are terrible together, like a ball of intensified anger. They can be good friends to each other because they know and understand each other so well by the end of a couple of seasons, and because Britta's desire to help everyone balances out Jeff's dedication to not caring.

It throws me every time I read a ficlet and someone manages to make Jeff/Britta fluffy. Even when she's trying to help, she'd go right for the tender bits and squeeze, while Jeff would try (probably successfully) to help by distancing himself and working her like a puzzle -- but not too deep, because he's all about quick results. The fact that they can be friends is a beautiful thing, but within the intimate confines of a relationship, the ugly stuff would surface soon enough.

It's the worst pairing ever and I love it. I just wish people wrote it as horrible in fic as they do on TV.

OKAY THEN HOW ABOUT TROY AND ABED.

Disclaimer: I'm allistic, so do let me know if I get something wrong here because I don't get autism; I've done some research but I'm no expert.

Troy and Abed are what it's all about for me, and Pillows and Blankets completely broke myself and Gilly -- Gilly more because I'm better at compartmentalizing and I knew they couldn't break them up for good, or hoped so, anyway.

BUT.

Troy is just head over heels in love with Abed, call it Platonic if you like, but basically, for Troy, Abed is the best person ever. He's made that clear.

Abed likes Troy. And I get the feeling he likes Troy because Troy does whatever he suggests, and protects him, and doesn't try to change him or get him to fit a particular mold and, basically, because Troy thinks Abed is fantastic just the way he is. It's a stress-free relationship.

Which doesn't sound like much until you consider just how much stress all other relationships place on Abed. He manages his relationship with most of the study group through narrative analysis and some manipulation, which makes it work even though there's a certain emotional distance between them -- not to say they don't genuinely connect from time to time. I'm thinking of that time Shirley stopped Abed's film production because Abed wanted her to. That was a real connection, or at least genuine mutual appreciation.

It must be exhausting to have to intellectually compartmentalize and analyze all your relationships. If your first instinctive emotional response to people is apathy or at best curiosity, that's a problem because people don't stick around for someone like that. Except Troy would, because Troy has decided Abed is the bee's knees however he plays it.

Abed is safer when he has friends, and when he can follow a script allistic people recognize. He seems like less of a dick when you consider that his detachment is both natural to his neurotype, an aide in understanding other people, and managing your interactions.

The thing that lead to Pillows and Blankets was Troy forbidding Abed to hire any more actors, and while Troy explains to Abed why, Abed doesn't quite seem to get it? He sidesteps the explanation and focuses on what he hates about it, which is being told what to do. It was Troy trying to control Abed, demanding something from him in exchange for friendship. Suddenly there's stress, and the relationship is not safe anymore, and it pissed Abed off.

We can see Troy's point of view easily enough: Abed is being irresponsible and failing to appreciate the trouble his friends went to to keep him safe, and undoing all their work; but Troy forgives Abed as soon as Abed agrees not to hire any more actors. It's that easy. It's only when Abed withholds affection because of that (to us) reasonable request that Troy's feelings get hurt all over again -> Pillows and Blankets.

Gilly just transcribed this bit for me, and Troy could not have been clearer about the reason why, but Abed doesn't even seem to hear it:


(Starting from when Troy finished ejecting all the impersonators)
Abed: Are you mad at me?
Troy: No.
Abed: Cool. I was going to go in the Dreamatorium and play Inspector Spacetime.
Troy: Have fun.
Abed: (gets up)
Troy: Abed.
Abed: Yeah?
Troy: Come here. (Abed returns.) I am mad at you.
Abed: But you said you weren't. We never lie.
Troy: I know.
Abed: We made a deal. October 15th 2009: Friends don't lie to each other.
Troy: I know! I lied. Because you don't like people who tell you what to do and I don't want to be one of those people.
Abed: Then don't be.
Troy: I have to be! You have to stop renting celebrity impersonators! Vinnie was going to break both of your legs. I worked really hard to help you!
Abed: But that's what you wanted to do.
Troy: Yes!
Abed: But I can't do what I want to do?
Troy: I guess not, not all the time. Sometimes you're just going to have to trust that I know better about stuff.
Abed: I don't know if I can do that.
Troy: Then I guess you're going to have to trust that you're going to have to trust me.
Abed: Well. I don't want to stop being your friend, so I guess I'll let you tell me what to do sometimes. Still best friends?
Troy: Yeah! Still best friends. Always.
Abed: Cool. Cool cool cool.
Troy: Are you still going to go into the Dreamatorium?
Abed: Yeah, but I think I'm going to play by myself right now if that's okay.
Troy: Cool, okay.
Abed: Cool.
Troy: (moves in for their handshake but Abed is already walking away)


Gilly and I have talked about how disappointing the Inspecticon episode was by way of a resolution to the tension remaining under Troy and Abed's friendship hats. For me, it was just so paint-by-numbers. Gilly finds it kind of offensive that Abed was supposed to choose to be with Troy because "logical inspectors and emotional constables" is a thing, like he chooses that narrative rather than choosing to be with someone who's important to him. I might be able to swallow that as a lead-in to what I'd consider the actual good reason to stick with Troy, which Abed only came to once Toby had locked him inside the phone booth: "Troy will find me." He CAN rely on Troy acting in Abed's best interest, to think about him when others wouldn't, and to protect him. Abed doesn't even need to know how or why. He wouldn't get that from Toby, or... much anyone else, really, at least not without control also in the picture, like with his father. He can trust that he can trust Troy.

So it's an unbalanced pairing when it comes to the amount of affection involved because of how Abed relates to things and how Troy is made of emotion, but not so much when it comes to how much both depend on each other and need each other. (And Troy needs Abed, not just because he loves him, but because Abed is the one who brought him out of the jock mindset and let him be more himself.) Taking some distance while Troy/Britta was a thing might actually have balanced the relationship out somewhat? That depends on how it will be written from now on. And it was also quite hurtful because I don't want to see the Troy & Abed thing wane.

As long as Abed keeps taking Troy's feeling into consideration as much as he knows how, and Troy is happy, then I am happy for both of them, and for myself because I'm over-invested in their relationship.
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