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How ‘Community’ Saved Christmas: A Love Note to One of the Best Shows on Television

On 13, Dec 2010 | In Press & News | By SBI

Here’s some music to enjoy while reading this article. You know, for ambiance! (Note: This isn’t just a ploy to get you to listen to songs from the Community soundtrack. Honest.)

There’s a kind of demented brilliance to Community. It’s something I’ve been accepting of since early in the show’s incarnation, but it wasn’t until the series’ wonderfully inventive, borderline disturbing, ultimately heartwarming stop-motion Christmas special—entitledAbed’s Uncontrollable Christmas—that I found myself capable of fully elucidating why that is. And I’m not just saying that because it delivered the ultimate burn on Lost.

In a sense, Community operates on two levels. (Well, in another sense, Communityoperates on dozens of levels, depending on what genre sensibilities it’s adopting during any given episode, but bear with me.)

On the first level, Jeff Winger is the protagonist of the show. He cheated through life one two many times, landed at a community college, and has since learned to—however half-heartedly—take solace in the study group he had initially formed as a ploy to get a hot girl to sleep with him.

Among the members of this study group is Abed, a young adult with Asperger’s syndrome who envisions his life as being part of a TV sitcom, yet has been accepted by his peers as a weird kid who processes reality through TV.

Then there’s another level—a meta subtext level—where Abed is actually right. He is unequivocally, 100% right. Despite the casual disregard by the rest of the group of his TV and film insights, he has never failed to recognize the formula-driven happenings of the narrative. This is all a TV show, and he is the only one in tune with what we as an audience are experiencing, which in a grander sense makes him the main character of the show.

This means one of two things: either Community is a fantasy series in which Abed is an omniscient force who is acutely aware that his life and the lives of those around him are part of the show that we are watching, or Abed is a seriously fucked up individual, and every single episode of the show is representative of how he perceives his role in the world—as a supporting character in a sitcom starring Jeff Winger—making it a darkly disturbing series that’s only a comedy because that’s how Abed has chosen to process his college experience.

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