As is customary for me, let's briefly recap the plot of this episode. It's Christmastime at Greendale, which means that it's "politically correct" season, as the Dean announces that the school attributes no specialness to the time of year. So there are some nice parallels between the way that “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” and “Regional Holiday Music” open. Both begin with Abed asking about Christmas plans that the group has, and both include the film student being disappointed when his friends choose less-than-holiday-centric ways to spend their vacation. Annie announces that she'll be pre-reading for a relaxation class next semester, and Troy says that he'll spend his holiday playing video games. Abed then expresses his disappointment and notes that he thought this Christmas would be special. They all, after all, are stop-motion animated. Let me pause for a moment to express that there is such a BEAUTIFUL Pierce/Abed storyline in this episode and it’s just… so endearing to Pierce as a character, especially because he is someone who we traditionally dismiss as being the racist old goof of the group. But in “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” he is the last person to stay with Abed until the very end, and the person who indulges him (seemingly) the most for his character. What I mean is that Troy and Abed and Annie are obviously close to one another so it stands to reason that they would help Abed as much as possible throughout the episode, and they do. Pierce has little to no reason to be as kind to Abed as he is, but I quite enjoy it.
Anyway, as we know later on, this is an episode that exists in a world where Duncan is partially right. Abed’s behavior (his belief that everyone is in a stop-motion animated Christmas episode) is a reflection of the unsettlement he feels by being unable to control outcomes of events. His pain manifests itself through his desire to overcompensate for a loss – he is a character so intent on making this Christmas the most spectacular Christmas of them all because he’s afraid that without his comforting familiarity and love of his mother, he has lost all meaning. This similar personality trait exhibits itself in “Virtual Systems Analysis,” briefly. Abed believes that he is only good for planning and controlling within the study group and that, eventually, they won’t need him anymore. For this reason, then, the study group as a whole is hesitant to label Abed in the beginning of the episode. There are notably two exceptions to this: Jeff and Britta. Jeff asks if a word means the same to Abed as it does to “normal” people, which is the second indicator we have gotten in the season more explicitly regarding Jeff’s views of Abed as a person. In “Anthropology 101,” Jeff harshly criticized Abed’s inability to decipher reality from television, which wounded the film student. This dig is a bit more subtle, but it is a nice set-up for events and the relationship that will occur between them in “Critical Film Studies” later on.
Additionally, season three isn’t the real introduction of Britta-as-psychologist. Season two offered plenty of moments where the blonde psychoanalyzed (or attempted to, at least) her fellow students. Here is a subtle example of Britta’s character – she treads lightly with Abed, and – unlike Jeff – hesitates to label or categorize him. Britta and Abed have always had an interesting relationship. These two characters had the first noted interaction on Greendale’s campus out of any other members in the group when Abed asked her to borrow a pencil. Throughout the first season, she strove to protect Abed and his feelings (“Introduction to Film,” for instance). So instead of referring to Abed as crazy, she asks how they can help with his “situation.” Again – this isn’t a character who wants to diagnose and detach from her friend; Britta genuinely wants to help.
Even later on in season three, I feel like people mistake her intentions as a Psychology student. She never insists that she has all of the right answers, nor does she (usually) diagnose people. She is eager to help people out, because she wants that to be her role again. Pop quiz time! Whose study group was it before it became Jeff’s? Who did the group members turn to for wisdom, guidance, and to ultimately let Jeff into the group at all? If you answered “Britta,” award yourself another $200 as you pass “Go”! Britta is, and will always be, the heart of the group. Is she the brightest? No. Is she the most successful in her endeavors? Not always. Is she someone who wants what is best for the study group? Yes. What I usually (and I’ve mentioned this before) find intriguing is that when Britta manages to Britta a plan, the end result turns out to be exactly what the group needed to begin with. The group may never acknowledge it either consciously or subconsciously, but Britta has helped them more than they realize.
- I think this is meant to represent Jeff’s sarcastic and jester-like personality.
- Troy Soldier
- Abed sees Troy as a leader and someone who should command importance. What better way to indicate this to the rest of the group than by giving him the only musical instrument?
- Britta has a tough exterior, can be rather cold and unemotional (compared to Annie and Shirley, for instance, who are softer and usually more outwardly compassionate) and this is why I believe Abed chooses a robot for her.
- Teddy Pierce
- This one is just so intriguing to me – a teddy bear is something that you cuddle: something that is soft, warm, and inviting. Thoughts like these aren’t usually equated with Pierce, but it’s nice to see that ABED sees something in the elderly man that is soft and caring.
- I think that Abed chose Annie to be a ballerina for various reasons: yes, she is delicate and graceful and doll-like, but she’s also a bit tightly wound, too.
- Baby Doll Shirley
- I wonder if Abed chose for Shirley to be a baby doll simply because of the fact that she is so mothering to others and to her own children, or because she has the tendency to be infantile in her belief systems and judgments. Hmm.