Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 Jeff/Annie Moments (Or, If Being #Pathological Is Wrong, I Never Want to Be Right)

Months ago, a Twitter blowup – for lack of a more eloquent term – occurred when some Community fans began to pester Andy Bobrow to the point where he grew defensive of his work, his unaired episodes, and his decisions as head writer in the absence of Dan Harmon.

These fans were shippers. In particular, they were Jeff/Annie shippers – a handful of them, to be exact – who wanted answers that Bobrow could not give them. As the ladies of Hot Switch and I explained in a recent episode (and I believe it was Jaime who made this observation), there are moments that cause dysfunction and dismay within a fandom. These moments occur when the image that the fandom has created in their minds of a particular character, including their wants, desires, dislikes, likes, etc. does not coincide with the character that the writers create on paper. Bobrow told us, in the final lines of his explanation on Twitter the following:

And can we at least agree on one thing that I hope and pray you can all see as clearly as I can? That Jeff Winger sabotages his relationships, and that Jeff Winger, deep down, doesn’t think he deserves happiness? Do you guys not buy that?

In our episode of Hot Switch, I argued that Bobrow was incorrect… or at least, the intention of the writers to convey that persona of Jeff Winger had failed. Because when there is a disconnect between the way that characters are written and the way that they are either acted or perceived, THAT is when things like our affectionately named “Bobrowgate” occur. See, it doesn’t matter in this scenario if Andy Bobrow is right or if Jeff/Annie shippers are right.

What matters, I’d argue, is that what the writers believe to be true about their characters are not what the actors and then, subsequently, sect of audience members (“shippers”) believe to be true about them. THAT is why “Bobrowgate” occurred and will never truly be resolved. We can argue and tweet and apologize all we want, but that will never solve the underlying issue – the truth of the matter is that the writers still see Annie Edison as an eighteen-year old schoolgirl with a “crush,” and Jeff as a creepy, smarmy ex-lawyer who will never find true love or happiness in a relationship. And the audience sees Jeff as a maturing, albeit flawed man and Annie as a 22-year old, self-possessed woman.

But that, as Joey Tribbiani would say, is a rather “moo” point. So instead of debating the merits of “Bobrowgate,” let’s take some time to discuss fifteen instances in which Jeff and Annie were NOT creeped out by their feelings for one another, shall we? I ship Jeff/Annie, and I feel like a vast majority of the people I know and follow do as well. What is their reasoning for doing so? Well. For starters, these two characters complement one another’s personalities so seamlessly – Annie is Jeff’s conscious; he talks her away from the edge. She forces him to buckle down; he causes her to loosen up.

Joel McHale and Alison Brie have fantastic chemistry together as Jeff and Annie. Granted, either actor could have chemistry with a ROCK, but the fact of the matter is that this chemistry – this attraction or pull or gravity that keeps bringing Jeff and Annie back to one another – cannot be ignored. It cannot be swept under a metaphorical rug. When these actors portray their characters as having a genuine and true connection with each other, the most offensive thing a writer or producer can do is insist that their audience is somehow wrong or warped for picking up on that chemistry.

#Pathological started out as – per his words – a way for Andy Bobrow to hurt the feelings of the Jeff/Annie shippers the way his had been hurt during the Twitter debacle. I’m not saying that either side was right: Andy shouldn’t have engaged the fans and spurred the dissention as much as he did, but the handful of Jeff/Annie fans should not have pestered the writer, nor should they have taken up arms when he didn’t respond the way they wanted him to.

All of that is irrelevant, or at least not as important as this, however: the Jeff/Annie majority managed to do something pretty exceptional – we took #pathological back. What was originally utilized as a weapon turned quickly into a battle cry and a badge of honor that I wear proudly. If being #pathological when it comes to Jeff and Annie is somehow wrong, well… then I don’t want to be right. So I’ve decided to compile fifteen of the best #pathological moments beneath the cut to discuss. If you’re ready, don those shipper caps because we’re about to set sail on the S.S. Milady/Milord!

15.  The dance. ("Introduction to Statistics") 

Prior to listening to the commentary for “Introduction to Statistics,” I probably wouldn’t have listed Jeff and Annie’s cutesy Halloween dance as an integral or important moment in their relationship. However, the commentary track on this episode noted (I believe it was by Dan Harmon but someone correct me if I am mistaken), that the moment Jeff extended his hand to Annie to dance with her was the very moment Annie began to develop a crush on him.

It’s understandable, really, because Annie spends the entirety of the episode trying to ensure that Jeff shows up to – and stays at – her party so that she will feel special and cool. Britta, meanwhile, spends the entire episode trying to make this possible. It’s one of the rare moments in the series where we see Britta do something for ANNIE (rather than the reverse) to help her. She recognizes the fact that the dance may mean nothing to Mr. Too-Cool-to-Care Winger, but it means something to Annie. And at the very end of the episode, we see Jeff make amends for his behavior by offering Annie his hand to dance.

And, as evidenced by the GIF above, dance they DO. That giddy, happy Annie Edison finally emerges after spending “Introduction to Statistics” stressed, frazzled, and feeling unloved. And Jeff Winger offering a dance was all it took to get her there.

14. "If I write stuff down in a Hello Kitty notebook, will you like me again?" ("Pillows and Blankets")

I love watching Annie interact with Jeff, as we’ll see later on down this list. But what I REALLY love is when Jeff is slighted by Annie. And the reason that I love this is because of how he responds. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t take rejection from Annie very well.)

Annie ignores Jeff’s text messages. That’s all she does, to be quite frank, and for some reason it drives Jeff crazy. The fact of the matter is that in “Pillows and Blankets” (just as in “Intro to Political Science”) we see that Jeff CARES what Annie thinks about him. He doesn’t like when they fight or when she ignores him, and she doesn’t like when he’s being a jerk or an idiot. That’s why they work so well together, though, too.

When Jeff tracks Annie down, he asks why she’s been ignoring him and she spits sarcasm at him. She grows defensive and feisty, but she’s still genuinely Annie Edison. She admits to having a journal where she’s able to be unguarded and wonders if Jeff has a place where he can do the same. (And that is when Jeff asks: “If I write stuff down in a Hello Kitty notebook, will you like me again?”) He knows that she is mad at him and his solution is to do whatever it takes – no matter how silly – to get her back on his good side. Jeff always goes to great lengths for Annie: he does his best to protect her, to appease her, to not let her down, etc. And moments where we, as the audience, can see exactly how MUCH Annie’s presence impacts Jeff are my favorite.

If you recall, the episode ends with Jeff writing things down in a notebook. Call it what you will, but us #pathological fans think that this means something. But then again… what do I really know, right? ;)

13. "If we were married, you wouldn't find me flirting with another woman at a hotel bar." ("Conventions of Space and Time")

“Conventions of Space and Time” is the only season four episode of Community to actually make it onto my list. This isn’t because I hated the fourth season of Community (though I, of course, didn’t enjoy it as much as I wished I would have), though. This is simply because – as you’ll see when the list progresses – the majority of solid, meaningful Jeff/Annie moments occurred within the first three seasons. And, arguably, the first two seasons were the most influential.

Nevertheless, an episode from the fourth season found its way onto my list of favorite Jeff/Annie moments even in spite of persistence from Andy Bobrow that this scene was not meant to be romantic and that Jeff Winger “took it too far” and would probably regret that line he said to Annie later on.

Bobrow, I have one thing to say to you:

You Keep Using That Word GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I understand that sometimes writers do not intend for their words to come across as flirtatious. Had this scene been Troy/Annie or Abed/Britta, there would have been very different undertones to it. And that is understandable, is it not? If you write the exact same words, but place different actors in the scenes to deliver those lines, the intent that is conveyed will be different... correct? So, Maggie Bandur may not have “intended” for the Jeff/Annie scene in the hotel to be read as flirtatious (I’ll explain those quotations in a bit), but… that’s not how JOEL  understood the scene to be acted, and it not how ALISON understood the scene to be acted. Therefore, they conveyed it flirtatiously.

(Let me be quite honest and call the writers – especially Andy – out on their shenanigans regarding their denial of this episode meaning anything for Jeff/Annie. There is a deleted scene that essentially refutes every defense the writers could give. That scene clearly WAS meant to be flirtatious – we’re not the #pathological ones in this instance, hooray! – because of the fact that another scene was WRITTEN AND SHOT where Jeffrey Tobias Winger pretended to be married to Annie and agreed that she was beautiful. Talk your way out of that one, writers.)

In spite of my bitterness toward how the writers refused to believe that this moment was romantic, it WAS a romantic one and an extremely sweet one at that. Jeff admitted to Annie that he would – if it ever happened – remain faithful to Annie. This is an amazingly adult moment for Jeff, and I love that Annie was on the receiving end of such growth.

12. Annie is in Jeff’s heart. ("Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts")

I’m enjoying getting the opportunity to talk about Jeff’s growth as a character and his involvement in this romantic pairing, so let’s discuss this one particular scene in “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” that is SO telling and most definitely romantic and basically if you think it’s anything else, you’re wrong. (Convincing, right?)

Jeff is attempting to think of a speech to deliver at Shirley’s wedding but is having a tough time coming up with anything heartfelt to say about marriage that isn’t a cliché. But then Annie approaches and Jeff seeks her out for advice (as he oft does). Annie’s advice is simple: speak from his heart. As she places her hand over it briefly, she says: “There’s something real in there. Maybe that’s what scares you.”

As Annie leaves, we see Jeff examine his own heart by looking down at his chest. Things flash across – a house, a cell phone, a dog… and Annie. Multiple times, Annie’s smiling face greets Jeff and we’re struck with the revelation that yes, indeed, there IS something – or someone – real that has taken root in Jeff’s heart.

And it scares the crap out of him. So, much like New Girl’s Nick Miller, Jeff has a fallback for when life is difficult to deal with (ironically the same fallback as Nick’s): he drinks. He drinks to forget that Annie was in his heart, that it meant anything, and that whatever he feels about her is real. Because that, to Jeff, is easier than dealing with reality. In spite of that decision, however, this remains one of the best Jeff/Annie moments because it demonstrates that their relationship is FAR from being one-sided (and at this point in the series as we approach season five, I’d argue that Jeff cares more for Annie than she does for him).

11. The misleading text message ("Basic Lupine Urology")

Really, this is one of Jeff’s greatest moments in his relationship with Annie. The young woman purposefully sent out a misleading text message to Jeff in hopes of luring him to the Biology lab to deal with their demolished science project.

Of course Jeff would come running in the middle of the night (look at how nicely he is dressed, by the way. Can we just think about THAT for a moment?) in hopes that he would get to sleep with Annie finally. This is also just a friendly reminder: Jeff sung about that VERY FACT in his mind in the first episode of the season (“Biology 101”).

Alas, Annie’s text was a misleading ruse intended to get Jeff to the school. And no one is more disappointed in the text message than Jeff himself. This proving, of course, that he truly DID want the text to be true while also giving us one of the best Jeff/Annie non-moment moments of the season.

10. "I care what you think about me, you know?" "Yeah, well I care what you think about me. That's why this happened." ("Intro to Political Science")

“Intro to Political Science” contains one of the best Annie Edison moments in the series and lands onto the top ten most wonderful Jeff/Annie moments because of how Jeff responds to that particular moment. Annie announces her desire to run for student government and make a difference at Greendale… and also meet Joe Biden, who is going to be visiting the campus.  Annie politely asks Jeff to help her hang flyers at the beginning of the episode. As she stands in line to deliver her speech for candidacy, she asks Jeff if he hung them up.

Smugly, Jeff points his pool cue toward the entire stack of campaign flyers which are all duct-taped to a wall. Annie is offended and when Jeff explains his reasoning to her (about how elections are pointless), he ends with: “Don’t kid a lawyer.”

Eyes narrowed and jaw set, Annie spits: “Well if I see one, I won’t.”

This visibly affects Jeff and – as we find out at the end of the episode – is the entire reason he enters the election race to compete with Annie. I noted earlier in this post that Jeff cannot stand when Annie is mad at him, nor when she doesn’t see him in the best light possible. Jeff always needs to be Annie’s hero or her role model or her SOMETHING, and when Annie made her biting retort, it actually hurt Jeff. Because he realized in that moment that she was essentially saying: “You are nothing special. Deal with it.”

After Annie manages to hurt (intentionally this time) and embarrass Jeff during their debate, she finds him in the supply closet and apologizes for her behavior. She says: “I care what you think about me, you know?” And then Jeff, in a moment of complete honesty says: “Yeah, well, I care what you think about me. That’s why this happened.” The bottom line is that Jeff will always care about how Annie views him, whether they’re dating or friends or fighting. He never wants to be on her bad side, and he never wants to lose her respect. When he does, Community’s writers aren’t shy about Jeff pointedly trying to “win her back.”

… Am I being too #pathological yet?

9. "When you feel the way I feel about you..." ("Geography of Global Conflict")

The vast majority of you know this already, but my “Geography of Global Conflict” review is what put me on the map as a blogger, so I owe quite a bit to this episode. I’m also quite amused that the first Jeff/Annie episode of the third season is the one that so many of you all read as your introduction to me and my writing style. I ship Jeff/Annie – this much is evident – but I like dissecting more than shipping, though for me those usually tend to go hand-in-hand. And so, upon a re-watch of this episode when it first aired, I began to analyze the couch conversation between the two characters near the episode’s end.

Jeff spends the entire episode, you see, referring to Annie as “kid” or “kiddo.” It’s a bit jarring for us because over the course of two years, he’s never used those terms to describe or define her. But Jeff is doing what Jeff does best – pushing someone he cares about away because the relationship is complex. A fling with Britta is not complex to Jeff; a discussion with Annie IS.

And so, instead of coming to terms with his growing feelings for Annie, Jeff avoids the conversation entirely… until he cannot avoid it any more. “Geography of Global Conflict” finds Jeff seeking out Annie, who is embarrassedly sitting on a study room couch, as she created a scene during the Model UN event earlier by acting childish. Jeff corrects her and admits to being in the wrong: he is wrong, he insists, for treating Annie like a child by talking down to her and calling her “kiddo.”

That, he explains, is a crutch – it’s a way for him to tell her that she is important to him without actually saying the words and complicating their relationship. But Jeff and Annie reach the point of no return in “Geography of Global Conflict.” As I said in my episode review:

For [Jeff], it's easier to use that as an excuse for not addressing his feelings, period. He's taking the easy way out in calling Annie a cute little nickname, and pretending like it's under pretenses of being a big brother or a father to her. But what they realize in this scene is that they both have to grow up. For Annie and Jeff, this both is unfortunate because with addressing a relationship, there's automatically the potential for it to fail. Annie is comfortable with what they have, because moving forward means that there is a potential to lose everything they have built up - all the walls and subtext included. But I'm glad that it's Jeff, this time, who admits that they can't keep tip-toeing around things. Those sorts of games have expiration dates, and they've reached theirs. Both of them know now what Jeff means by calling her "kiddo" - they can't go back to just being that, because it's creepy. It's weird to call someone a kid when it really means that you have some sort of romantic feelings for them.

It’s the fact that Jeff actually admits to his feelings – to his TRUE motivations when he says those things to Annie – is pretty astounding and amazing and such a HUGE leap for him as a character, to actually be willing to admit how much he cares about someone else. And I love it.

8. "You're becoming dangerous, Annie. It's those doe eyes. Disappointing you is like choking The Little Mermaid with a bike chain." ("Basic Genealogy")

The line quoted above is probably my favorite Jeff Winger line in the entire series, if I’m being honest. And this Jeff/Annie moment ranks among the best that the series has ever done simply because it is understated, honest, and adorable. “Basic Genealogy” finds Annie floating around in the background of Family Day while Jeff struggles with helping Pierce win the favor of his ex-step daughter (the pre-Smash Katharine McPhee).

My favorite exchange in the entire episode occurs when Annie corners Jeff and requests that he help the eldest study group member out. She uses her sway over Jeff (“How much effort do I rate?” “For you? I’d, uh, break a light sweat?”) in order to get him to do what she wants – and what he knows he SHOULD do. There’s a two-fold beauty in this conversation: 1) Annie has an effect on Jeff and will ALWAYS have an effect on Jeff (remember that she batted her eyes to get his help in “Economics of Marine Biology,” too). He can’t resist her doe eyes, as he states. But it’s MORE than that. Because 2) this episode exemplifies that Annie does not make Jeff a better person, necessarily. She’s not out to fix him because she thinks he’s broken, and he doesn’t approach her for advice because he’s unsure of what is morally right and wrong. He constantly seeks her out because he KNOWS what is right and needs Annie there to give him the extra push that he needs.

Jeff ends the conversation succumbing to her request, but not before accusing her of being dangerous and admitting that he hates disappointing her in any way, shape, or form. And I think (#pathologically, of course) that this is the moment in the series where Jeff KNOWS he’s in trouble when it comes to Annie. Because he genuinely wants to do right by her, can’t resist her, and you can see – in the line above – that he recognizes this is going to become a problem sooner, rather than later.

Oh, Jeff. You don’t even KNOW.

7. "You buried me like a shameful secret" / the look ("Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design")

“Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” is – perhaps – the best Jeff/Annie episode apart from “Debate 109.” The episode features the pair teaming up in order to unearth a conspiracy regarding night school at Greendale. In the process, Jeff thinks that Annie is in danger and tackles her (he probably didn’t need to do that, but for #pathological reasons, I’m going to assume he wants any excuse to be as close to Annie as possible) and the pair chase the elusive “Professor Professorson” through a blanket fort maze.

But the moment in the episode that truly struck me was when Jeff instructed Annie to go “off-book,” as it were (all the best things happen when Annie goes off-book) and ad-lib a speech to pull one over on Dean Pelton and teach him a lesson. And the speech that Annie gives is painful because she talks about how hurt she was when Jeff blew her off after their kiss. She snaps: “You buried me like a shameful secret.” This visibly stings Jeff and his face (seriously WHY DOES JOEL NOT HAVE A SINGLE EMMY?) softens into one of guilt and apology. You can visibly SEE him register the hurt in Annie’s voice and the bitterness that still tinges her tone whenever she talks about their kiss.

Annie then, cathartically, gets to “shoot” Jeff as a part of their plan. Later on in the blanket fort (after about twenty minutes’ worth of episode tension), Troy and Abed purposefully collapse the fort and as it falls down, Annie instinctively moves toward Jeff. The two stare at one another, but it’s also really fun to examine WHERE they are staring.

Jeff is staring into Annie’s eyes and she’s looking at his lips.

And had this episode been a few minutes longer, perhaps we would have seen that tension acted upon. Regardless, “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” was such a strong episode without being overwrought or clichéd in terms of the Jeff/Annie romantic aspects, so I applaud Chris McKenna for his choices.

6. "Either you want me or you don't. What's it gonna be?" ("Asian Population Studies")

Annie is at her best when she challenges Jeff. I cheer when she milady-blocks him in “A Fistful of Paintballs.” I enjoy her zingers in “Intro to Political Science.” And I love how Annie storms into the men’s bathroom to confront Jeff on his jealous (his words, not hers) behavior in “Asian Population Studies.” Annie cares a lot about Jeff. I won’t pretend that she does not. We often, as audience members, are torn between the Ace of Hearts version of Annie we see – this amazing, take-no-prisoners, formidable woman and the other version of Annie that the writers give us – a naïve, giggly schoolgirl.

But what I love so much about this Jeff/Annie moment is this: Annie may care a lot about Jeff, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let him treat her like garbage. She demands answers from him, and whether or not he can give those answers to her is almost irrelevant in light of the fact that she storms into a bathroom and becomes confrontational. These are HER feelings on the line and Jeff, time after time, plays with and twists them (whether intentionally or not). So she challenges him, as she often does, to give her a straight answer. And when Jeff cannot give Annie an answer as to whether or not he wants to be with her, she challenges him FURTHER by expressing this truth: if he doesn’t want her, someone else will. And as her hair flips over her shoulder and she storms out of the bathroom, her demeanor screams: “You missed your chance, buddy.”

Of course, the most beautiful part about this scene is that Jeff KNOWS he just blew his chance with her (Joel’s exceptionally nuanced facial expression as he watches her leave and the slight pout says it all and WHY doesn’t this man have an Emmy yet?). And honestly, I’ve never been more proud of Annie than I was in this moment for confronting Jeff about her feelings and his feelings.

Four for you, Annie Edison. You GO, Annie Edison!

5. Milady / Milord ("Football, Feminism and You")

My favorite running theme in Community in regards to Jeff and Annie is their “Milady/Milord” exchange that technically began in “Spanish 101” when Jeff kisses her hand like the idiot he is. In “Football, Feminism and You,” after spending the latter half of the episode being at odds with each other, Jeff apologizes for his behavior (and then puts his arm around Annie as she jumps at the terrifying image that is the Greendale Human Being mascot).

And in that moment, he looks down at her and offers his arm with a quiet: “Milady.” You can see Annie’s hesitation (I’ve never actually noticed how she seems to hesitate a lot when it comes to interactions with Jeff… apart from “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited,” of course) momentarily as she considers her options. But then she smiles and hooks her arm with Jeff’s, saying: “Milord.” The pair’s exchange is mentioned again in “Investigative Journalism” by Buddy, as he addresses them as Milady and Milord. Jeff calls her “milady” again in “Intro to Political Science” once they resolve their issues with one another. And then, the final exchange occurs in “A Fistful of Paintballs” when Jeff swaggers (really that’s the only way to describe it) into a paint-splattered study room with: “Milady,” and Annie snaps: “What do you want, Jeff?”

What I really love about this running exchange is this: it’s not just adorable or endearing – it’s also very respectful and sweet. Jeff literally calls Annie “his lady.” It’s a term that refers to someone of esteem, someone of nobility. In calling her this, he’s acknowledging that she is someone of value to him and – most importantly – someone who deserves his utmost respect and chivalry. So while “milady”/”milord” is a cute exchange, it’s also very telling in how Jeff views Annie. He doesn’t see her as an object or a conquest. He doesn’t even see her as a person. She is MORE than that and is treated as such.

Excuse me while I go sob in the corner now.

4. "I can’t help but worry about you, Annie. You’re important to me." ("Remedial Chaos Theory")

Interestingly enough, the moment I chose to focus on in “Remedial Chaos Theory” isn’t the kitchen kiss, but the scene in the bathroom. Here’s why, briefly, this ranks among my favorite Jeff/Annie not-real-timeline moments: because it is (there’s a pattern to this top 15 list if you couldn’t tell) initiated by JEFF. Regardless of whether or not this moment actually existed, the truth is that “Remedial Chaos Theory” focused on the characters and their wants and needs throughout every timeline. There were constants that surfaced in each (Shirley’s baking, Britta singing “Roxanne,” etc.) and one of the constants was that Jeff and Annie kept finding their way toward one another.

(“Gravity” is playing in your heads, isn’t it?)

JEFF is the one who acts like he is hurt so that Annie will tend to him (a truth noted in the commentary, I believe, since in the prime timeline Jeff hits his head on the fan but is fine). It is JEFF who admits to caring about Annie. And it is JEFF who leans forward first in the bathroom to kiss her. Everything about the moment in this timeline screams: “LOOK AT JEFF CARING ABOUT ANNIE.” Annie is the hesitant one; she is the one who doesn’t want her heart broken again or her feelings dismissed or her to be treated like a child (a truth that she mentions in this scene). So she keeps her guard up, even as Jeff begins to lean forward.

But it is Jeff, finally, who admits to worrying about Annie’s safety and well-being because she is important to him. Whether in an imagined timeline or not, THAT is a truth that really does exist in Jeff’s heart and mind.

Or perhaps I’m just reading into some things.

3. The Look. ("Romantic Expressionism")

The bronze Jeff/Annie moment medal goes to what is commonly referred to as “the look” from the season one episode “Romantic Expressionism.” Before I begin my explanation as to why this is one of the greatest #pathological moments of all time, let me – again – exasperatedly remind you all that JOEL MCHALE DOES NOT YET HAVE AN EMMY FOR THIS SERIES. What an injustice THAT is, right?

“Romantic Expressionism” is an episode primarily devoted to Jeff and Britta’s futile attempt to break up Vaughn and Annie. Britta, it is revealed near the episode’s end, is jealous that she’s dating her ex-boyfriend, even though she pretends that it doesn’t matter. Jeff, conversely, is called out by Britta for HIS jealousy as it pertained to Annie dating Vaughn. This episode takes place after The Kiss of “Debate 109,” and Britta clearly saw the kiss between the pair and remarks on it for the first time at the study room table. A hilarious moment then ensues, when Annie insists that she took the kiss for the team. Jeff, in disbelief, asks: “What?!” Annie then gives him a pointed look that speaks volumes and Jeff counters back with: “Yeah, that kiss wasn’t for pleasure. It was strategic and joyless.” This incites a “What?!” from Annie and Jeff shoots her a look with a raise of his eyebrows that clearly means: “Play along lest we get grilled further.”

The scene that follows is one of Community’s more famous early moments – Jeff explains that they’re not a real family; this means that they can potentially view any other study group member as a sexual prospect. As he trails off, everyone begins to exchange looks with one another (they range from intrigue to general disgust), and then Jeff’s eyes land on Annie.

Take care to note, dear readers, the softness and sincerity with which Jeff looks at Annie. He does not look at anyone else in the study group this way and that is important. And when HIS face softens into a small, content smile upon looking at Annie, hers softens too from one of confusion to one of understanding and reciprocation. Never have I seen Jeff portrayed so soft, so vulnerable, and so GENTLE as I did in this moment. (Again I say: WHY DOESN’T JOEL HAVE AN EMMY?)

I might be over analytical when it comes to certain things in regards to Jeff/Annie – arms on the backs of chairs, Jeff and Annie sitting next to one another in a scene, etc. – but this much is true: that look was a conscious decision by the writers. They WANTED Jeff to look fondly at Annie and only Annie during that scene. And to that I say: and you call US the #pathological ones?

2. "Greendale is where I belong."/ The Kiss ("Pascal's Triangle Revisited")

There are two television kisses currently tied for Best TV Kiss in my heart. One, of course, belongs to the now-iconic New Girl Nick/Jess first kiss. Because… holy moly. The second kiss is, as you have likely deduced, the Jeff/Annie kiss from “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited.”

A lot has been said about this kiss (my favorite is the commentary by Mary on Tumblr about it), so I’m not certain that there is much I can add to the dialogue in order to convince you that this deserves the silver medal of Jeff/Annie moments. That, of course, won’t stop be from trying. In “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited,” Jeff is forced to choose between Slater and Britta, both of whom confess their love at the end-of-year dance. Annie – unbeknownst to everyone except Jeff – is moving to Delaware to be with Vaughn.

At the end of the episode, Jeff runs out on both women and Annie runs out on Vaughn, leaving the pair coming face-to-face in the courtyard. They discuss their options – how they’re both stuck in this weird, out-of-body experience. They want to move forward, but they can’t. And there’s a part of them that doesn’t want to even move forward at all. So Jeff asks: “Do you evolve? Or do you know what you are?”

What I say time and time again is this: Jeff’s question isn’t wrong, but it also presumes that there are only two options. That’s not the case. There’s a third option: you could know who you are and continue to better yourself in the process. The option isn’t either/or… it can be neither. It can be ANNIE.

Annie hesitantly initiates a kiss with Jeff after their hug (remember: every move she usually makes with Jeff is hesitant). But then Jeff has the MOMENT. It’s this amazingly nuanced way that Joel plays him in which he just looks down at Annie after she pulls away (and she’s looking up at him with an adorably bashful expression) and it’s like in that moment… he knows. He knows that he doesn’t have to choose between Slater or Britta. He has another option. And maybe he’s not thinking anything when he kisses Annie, much like Nick claimed he wasn’t thinking about anything when he kissed Jess.

But… maybe that’s the POINT. Maybe the reason Jeff and Annie have yet to work is because they keep THINKING too much. They keep reflecting on their baggage and their history and their complexities and their age difference. Maybe the writers need to stop thinking and let the characters BE for once. Jeff and Annie need to make mistakes. They need to fall and fail and grow and learn. And they can’t do that if they’re constantly taking two steps forward and five leaps back.

So what happens when Jeff stops thinking is this: he lives in the moment. And in the moment, Annie is all he needs.

1. Annie lets down her hair. ("Debate 109")

Perhaps you’re surprised that the “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” kiss did not make the cut as my favorite Jeff/Annie moment to date. That’s not, of course, because the kiss isn’t great. Perhaps you’re also wondering why – apart from the GIF of it at the beginning – the kiss from “Debate 109” did not make my list. This kiss is also great and fantastic and all sorts of brilliant adjectives.

But the moment that still ranks as my favorite Jeff/Annie moment to date is one that precedes the kiss: when Annie lets down her hair in the study room. I talked about this scene quite a bit in my “Debate 109” review and this is what I said:

[In re-watching] I caught two moments I had previously missed. If you were curious, let me explain them now. So there's this moment (about 13:05 - it may be literally half a second long) where - when Annie is taking her hair down - Jeff momentarily looks both confused and also simultaneously intrigued. He furrows his eyebrows. And this is the moment where things are going to start to click for him. The second moment is this: right before Jeff says "yeah," I always thought that he was just mesmerized by Annie's hair (because, hello, Alison does have awesome hair!). But I realized through the re-watch and a .gif I found that I was wrong. Carefully (if you are so inclined) watch Jeff's line of sight. It's on Annie's face the entire time, right up until the moment he says "yeah," at which point his eyes do notice her hair. Joel is superbly nuanced with his facial expressions in this episode. It's pretty fantastic. The pair (after being warned by Shirley that Abed thinks they were going to kiss) then becomes super awkward around one another because they realize that they may or may not have just had some sort of ~moment~ and don't quite know how to respond.

After realizing through my re-watch, and through further examination of this GIF that Jeff’s line of sight is on Annie’s face the entire time she’s taking down her hair, this became my favorite Jeff/Annie moment. It’s cliché to say that it’s as if  he is seeing her for the first time but… well, it IS. Whenever the series wants to make Annie appear older or more mature, they let her hair fall naturally, rather than pinning it back. It’s a small decision that makes a dramatic impact because it does – for whatever reason – make her appear older when her hair is completely down.

Now, this is the final reminder: JOEL MCHALE DOES NOT HAVE AN EMMY AND THAT FRUSTRATES ME. Just watch his face and the various emotions that flicker across it in what is MAYBE a half a second. He’s: intrigued, impressed, and in awe. He’s completely and utterly mesmerized as she takes down her hair and continues to act that way until Shirley enters the room. The study room scene isn’t the most impactful scene in the world to most people. It’s relatively tame and simple but it’s full of underlying tension and spark and intrigue and everything that makes up a good romantic story. This is the EXACT moment that Jeff’s feelings began to shift. Previously he thought of Annie as a classmate and friend, presumably. But the moment she lets her hair down, he sees her as something else.

“All at once, everything looks different,” echoes the Disney film Tangled. “Now that I see you.”

And I can’t think of ANY better way to sum up my favorite Jeff/Annie moment than with that.

So what do you think of my list, friends? Hit up the comments or tweet me (@JustAboutWrite_) with YOUR favorite Jeff/Annie moments. And if you’re feeling particularly #pathological, check out my t-shirt shop where you can buy your very own #Pathological t-shirt and proclaim your shipper love to the world. :)



  2. This is awesome! :)

  3. Thank you! This list and Hulu just made a sick day in bed a great day!

  4. This is extremely brilliant in so many ways. Pathological and proud! :)

  5. So I just recently (within the last couple of months) got into the series and Jeff/Annie is my favorite pairing with Troy/Abed being a close second. I just saw tonight's episode, G.I. Jeff, it was okay but upon going online I learned that this is one of the last few episodes of the season.

    Maybe its just because I saw the series so close together but I noticed a trend as the series wore on, Jeff and Annie's relationship slowly developed from their stolen moments in the first season to the numerous pairings and scenes they had in the second and third seasons culminating in the somewhat more visible and honest relationship shown in the fourth season (Jeff and Annie at the Convention, Annie Decorating his Appartment, etc).

    The fifth season however has shown (at least in my opinion) a staggering drop in intimacy shown in the few times Annie and Jeff have had alone together. Back to my original point, I read the episode summaries and from their descriptions, it doesn't look like their relationship is going to get much screen time with the remainder of the season.

  6. Wow! This was an awesome and detailed list. It really was a joy to read. Thanks so much for posting! :)

  7. Makes me believe in romance again!

  8. What do you want for them in s6?

  9. Haha I loved the list

  10. this is brilliant. you should be proud of yourself, you did a great job

  11. I really hope they won't end the series like HIMYM ended (that Jeff and Britta end up together after all because they were the first "couple" in the series)

    1. Omg I've said the same thing before!!!! HIMYMs ending ruined the show for me (and destroyed me in the inside a little) and if community does the same I'm going to loose faith in tv and writers

  12. I am still on season 4 in community and I observed how Jeff/Britta were given more screen time then Jeff/Annie and I was pissed because Jeff/Annie and are my favourite ❤ . Just wanna know should I watch season 4,5, and 6 ??? Or I will be disappointed �� just like I was when HIMYM ended....

    Please reply

  13. I just recently started watching re-runs of "Community" on late night tv, and while I dismissed it initially, I have found it to be delightfully entertaining as well as surprisingly well written and nuanced. I find myself silently rooting for Jeff and Annie...anyway, great post. Your analyses are well articulated, insightful, and entertaining. Thank you for writing it.

  14. OMG. I'm a huge Jeff+Annie shipper, and your article just moved me so much...
    I had no idea about the whole debate initiated by the fans on Twitter, so it put their whole relationship into a new light, as if the actors were deliberately acting as to please Jeff/Annie shippers hihi
    Anyway, i just really really loved your article, your analysis are so detailed and well written... Thank you.
    A French hopeless romantic.

  15. I'm guessing this list MUST have been before the season 5 finale where Jeff's surge of emotion looking at Annie activates the computer and frees them from the basement lair of the computer guy.