here is something that neurotypical/allistic Community fans don’t seem to understand and they REALLY NEED TO
Abed is not just obsessed with pop culture because he enjoys it. He does, but it’s more than that-watching TV shows and consuming media helps him to navigate and understand the real world. It helps him understand certain social situations he wouldn’t otherwise understand, and it helps him create scripts for social situations, something a lot of autistic people (because Abed is autistic-not “quirky”, not “special”, which I’ve also heard some Community fans say) do.
So when you say things like “Abed is basically tumblr”, you are dismissing that part of him. You are dismissing the fact that consuming media has been absolutely essential to him in surviving in social situations. Also, while there is a great autistic community on Tumblr the vast majority of people are allistic and while you may relate to Abed you can not understand
And not only that, you are reducing him to a single character trait when one of the best parts of Abed for me, an autistic person, is how well written and multi-faceted he is. (I should probably point out as well that he’s a MOC and characters of colour are also often reduced to stereotypes.)
so just. Please don’t do this, ok? Ok.
“There’s a saying which made its rounds in geekdom recently – “Real nerds watch Community”. Now I take issue with the idea of “real nerds” but the sentiment still stands. Whereas The Big Bang Theory sees nerd culture as an object of ridicule, Community celebrates it. Community’s laughing with you whereas Big Bang is giving you a wedgie and laughing at you. When TBBT makes a pop culture reference it uses it as a punchline, it names a show like Firefly and asks you to laugh at it. When Community makes a pop culture reference it commits. Community makes a whole episode based on a trope or a genre, it doesn’t just use paintball as a plot device it takes paintball seriously and bases two season finales around epic battles of paint. Community doesn’t laugh at the idea of playing D&D it bases an episode on it. Parallels can be drawn between the characters of Sheldon in Big Bang and Abed in Community. Abed too has trouble reading sarcasm and emotion, he has obsessions with routine and structure as well and disruptions in routine cause him considerable distress. Abed sees everything in terms of television and film tropes. This is how he understands the world around him and how he figures out how best to react. Unlike Sheldon, it is often confirmed that Abed does have mental difficulties, most likely Asperger’s Syndrome. But, crucially, the main difference between Sheldon and Abed is that Abed is treated as a hero. In the pilot episode Jeff Winger, arguably the most conventionally “cool” member of the group says this: “Abed is a shaman. You ask for bread and Abed gives you soup because soup is better. Abed is better”. In one episode Abed is literally treated as a god. Yes, his neuroses do at times inconvenience the rest of the group but his belief that they see him as a nuisance is dismissed as his own insecurity rather than the truth. Community positions us, its audience, as Abed. It knows that we are knowledgeable about the things we love, it knows that we understand tropes and genre conventions, it gives us the benefit of the doubt and treats us as intelligent human beings who will not only understand the meta pop culture references, but will find them funny and love the show for it. Community tells us it’s cool to be a nerd. If Abed is better then we are better. Community is a warm hug of acceptance whereas The Big Bang Theory is a pantsing and a punch in the face.”
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I was a fan of TBBT since the first time it aired but over the years, the plot has become circular and there aren’t much character developments that are not used as plot devices. The humor has gotten very offensive lately as well. Now I just watch because I love Jim Parsons, but the show continues to alienate me especially whenever I watch an episode of Community in which its superb writing and sublime delivery can outdo and outrank all twenty-two episodes of the recent TBBT seasons in a heartbeat. Still, I will watch TBBT until it ends because there are still some moments where Shelly actually gets an insight about himself that isn’t pretentious or annoying (especially in the latest season so far). Also, his social awkwardness The Egg Salad Equivalency was well-written because his blatant misogyny is not at all endearing even with Parsons’ charm. But yesiree, Community FTW! ♥ I am intensely excited for season 4!~
Further to this comparison (I’m only half way through season 2 mind), I notice that in Community, the coolest of the cool guys, Jeff, becomes less “cool” (read: obnoxious and arrogant dudebro) and becomes more like the others, who are all dorky in their way. Jeff isn’t held up at the guy we’re supposed to relate to and omg those nerds and dorks are so weiiirrrd amirite. Community makes me feel like I should be able to relate to all of the characters.
Except Pierce. He’s still mostly a bit of a cartoon? I get that the whole joke with Pierce is his bigotry that’s so blatant it reads as weird, but I do wish they’d develop him a bit more so he’d be less gross. Because “haha white guy is so racist/homophobic/sexist” just gets really fucking old.
That said, I freaking love Community, and what little I’ve seen of The Big Bang Theory tends to leave me feeling a bit alienated.