Abed Nadir

Written by @EllieDangerous
Like a blanket fort under siege, it’s impressive ‘Community’ stayed up for so long. The American sitcom about a community college has just finished its sixth and maybe final season, and it was good. But Abed decided long ago that all good TV shows deserve “six seasons and a movie”, and for this reason alone it’s gotta happen. Seriously, give the man a ‘Community’ movie. Played by Danny Pudi, Abed Nadir is what the TV Tropes website would look like if it were a newly-hatched baby bird. ‘Community’ doesn’t belong to creator Dan Harmon or front man Jeff Winger. It’s Abed’s story.

Spoiler Alert
For a start, he’s literally the one who’s telling it. Abed is obsessed with pop culture to the extent at which most of what he says is completely meta. He says the college is the setting of a sitcom and they are the characters in it. Breaking the fourth wall often comes across as self-indulgent tripe in TV shows, but Abed is such an endearing character that we feel it’s coming from him and not from the writers. So we forgive him for it. Heck, we love it. Why else would he have kept up the meta so long?

Everything that happens in ‘Community’ is subject to Abed’s feverish observational skills. In season one he creates ridiculously insightful films about the other characters, in season two he successfully manipulates his friends into watchable shenanigans, and by season six his “live reviewing” of the sitcom around him is so incisive that he renders the likes of IGN kinda pointless.

It’s Abed who decides what’s worthy of the main story and what isn’t. There’s enough depth in the show for us to acknowledge the world outside Abed’s bubble, but as he grows his bubble does too, to the point at which it encompasses the whole world as well as our own. His bubble is the story. The story of the story is the only story worth telling, and it’s Abed’s bubble-story.


Ignoring the meta stuff for a moment, there’s also the fact that Abed grows and learns the most in the six season run of ‘Community’. That’s another reason why it’s his story. He learns to interact with others, express himself, and achieve surprisingly effective Han Solo cosplay. He even learns that there’s more to life than meta analysis and pop culture referencing. In the season six finale, Jeff appeals to Abed’s meta mind by exclaiming “We’ve got to figure out season seven!” Abed replies “Or maybe we can just hang out”.

Other than Abed, it’s us lot who have gained the most out of ‘Community’, and that’s thanks to Abed too. I’m talking about the emotional stuff now, which is ironic given the difficulties he has in expressing it. That’s actually a part of it. It’s awesome to see the film dork sync up with Troy the star quarterback, and when he manages one of those awkward hugs like he’s patting a plank of wood we go all fuzzy inside. Abed is such a satisfying character. He built the blanket fort, and that’s why it stood for so long.

Without Abed pinning everyone in their place with his love of workable sitcom tropes, the show’s winning structure wobbles and the whole thing topples off balance. “Chaos already dominates enough of our lives”, he points out in season three’s strongest episode. “The universe is an endless, raging sea of randomness. Our job isn't to fight it but to weather it together on the raft of life. A raft held together by those few, rare, beautiful things that we know to be predictable.”

Abed predicts everything we love about ‘Community’, because he loves it too. So if it belongs to anyone, it belongs to him. Yeah it’s all pretend, but the show is so meta that pretend doesn’t even matter, and that’s kind of the point. Thanks for the story, Abed! It was cool. Cool cool cool.
There are three things you need to know: Dennis Hopper is dead, TV shows don't make time for their theme songs anymore, and Woody Allen voiced a cartoon ant.
It's almost too conceptual to follow. But I love it.
Ellie Ball is the founder of Good Characters, and someone who enjoys coffee cake a great deal. She is a graduate of the Scriptwriting MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. For fun and respite, check out her TV analysis articles on Bang2Write or tweet coffee cake at her @EllieDangerous.
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Published on 11 June 2015

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