Thursday, April 10, 2014

Will-They-Won't-They: A Study in the Success & Dangers Of This Trope

My darling friend Julieta tweeted something recently that really made me think. She wrote: “I don’t understand why TV writers in general are so scared of having their characters fall in love and then be in long-term, committed relationships.” Rather than, as Julieta noted, have characters fall in love and be in committed relationships, most comedies fall into the largest pothole in the world (reminiscent of this one): the hole of the “will-they-won’t-they” relationship.

Now, these relationships have both merits and drawbacks. A good television series won’t drag out the “will-they-won’t-they” for seasons upon seasons without any seeming conclusion, be it good or bad. A good television series will recognize the fact that this relationship is a tool and a powerful one at that: it provides the show with an added layer of tension that lures audience members in and promises them romance and intrigue. A good television show will use this relationship to its advantage by having it GO somewhere. A good television show will realize that there is a precise and delicately balanced window of time in which their characters need to act on their romantic tension, lest the audience feel deceived at best and downright infuriated at worst at a lack of development. A good television show cannot draw out a “will-they-won’t-they” forever, because if they do, they won’t be a good television show anymore.

Relationships are the hinge on which all of humanity swings, so it makes sense that it is the hinge on which television sitcoms seem to swing as well. There are friendships and families and romantic relationships on television just as there are in real life. The problem, however, is that television writers often find it so difficult to mimic real-life relationships. Why is this? Because writers are afraid that their audiences are restless and fickle and if they commit to one thing for too long – one character or one romantic pairing or one plot – that their fans will lose interest. “Will-they-won’t-they” relationships are the obvious (quick) remedy to this fear of audience boredom and subsequent abandonment if, and only if, they are executed correctly.

What I thought I might do is take a look at some of the “will-they-won’t-they” relationships that have piqued my interest over the years and discuss the merits and drawbacks of each as they affect the television comedy series as a whole.

Jim and Pam from The Office & Ben and Leslie from Parks and Recreation

Jim and Pam are cited as this generation’s definition of a “will-they-won’t-they” relationship and maybe it’s hindsight, but I am not sure I would continue to classify them this way. I think it was clear to the writers and producers on The Office that Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly would always end up together. The question wasn’t a matter of “if,” then, but “when”? I hold fast to the same belief when it comes to Parks and Recreation, a series created by one of the writers on The Office. Ben and Leslie always worked as a couple because there was never a question of whether or not those two lovable dorks would end up together. We always knew that they would and THEY always knew that they would. It was a matter of timing.

What The Office and Parks and Recreation both did superbly well was master the art of that timing – they threw us “Casino Night” and “End of the World” and while the angst was strong and the road was rocky for both of the couples on these shows, the end result was the same: they got together. If you’re a good writer, you realize that there are circumstances that dictate sticking to a plan and there are circumstances that dictate throwing your hands up in the air and letting your characters call the shots. I’ll talk about the latter situations momentarily, but it’s important for your audience to never feel like they are being strung along in a merciless and endless cycle of “they like each other, but there are obstacles.” That’s all well and good for a while and I think it’s necessary for characters to struggle, especially in romantic relationships, in order to be relatable and real. Heck, I think that it’s even important for characters to break up sometimes if the situation calls for it.

What I think made The Office’s romantic pairing strong and what I think makes Parks and Rec’s so strong is the fact that Greg Daniels and Mike Schur and their team of writers realized that the game of “will-they-won’t-they” has an expiration date. It’s fun for a while, but then it just gets frustrating. Jim and Pam may still qualify as a “will-they-won’t-they” but I was never frustrated with their relationship (except, perhaps, in the very final season but that’s another story). I felt like the struggle of Jim watching Pam be engaged to a man who didn’t love her like he did was REAL. I felt like Pam’s confusion and hesitation over not wanting to ruin their friendship but still harboring feelings for him was REAL. I felt every single moment of “Booze Cruise” and “Casino Night” and Pam’s speech on the beach in “Beach Games” echoed true to reality. Sometimes you just keep missing your chance with someone and sometimes you pine but eventually you ask that person out for a date and the rest is history. In a similar fashion, Ben and Leslie had obstacles that pulled them apart but also made them stronger as individuals. “End of the World” found Leslie longing for Ben and Ben always longed to be with her. But they needed to grow and make real, lasting decisions before they could be together permanently.

A “will-they-won’t-they” with no resolution is really a “we-like-the-chemistry-but-are-too-scared-to-pull-the-trigger.” Thank goodness The Office and Parks and Recreation knew this.

Jeff and Annie from Community

Speaking of the “we-like-the-chemistry-but-are-too-scared-to-pull-the-trigger,” Community has always been a show that has excelled in a vast number of ways. It’s developed stylistically appealing homages. It’s broken the mold in a lot of ways. The one rather large qualm I’ve always had (and still have) with this show is its absolute refusal to commit to or develop or bring closure to any romantic relationship. Jeff and Annie are, perhaps, the greatest example of how NOT to write a “will-they-won’t-they” pairing because… well, it’s pretty clear to me that they’ll never happen. Not in this timeline, anyway. And here is why: Dan Harmon and his team believe that it is better to throw their audience members bones – that it is better to give equal weight to every romantic pairing on the series – than develop or bring closure to romance. Because here’s the raw truth: not everyone would be happy if Jeff and Annie became a couple. Not everyone would be happy if Jeff and Britta did or (when) Troy and Britta did or if Abed and Annie did. The Community audience is so small already that I think Harmon believes that to isolate it further by developing or committing to any romantic pairing would spell demise for his sitcom.

And maybe he’s right. Maybe there are factions of the fandom that would throw up a peace sign and exit if Jeff and Annie became a couple. But what is happening right now – what I feel about the show’s romantic developments – is much worse than eyeballs leaving the television screen. You see, in refusing to bring closure to ANY romantic pairing on this show, Harmon is not progressing his characters. At all. They’re idling in stagnation, ready to progress slightly or regress slightly depending on the episode.

Recently, this is what Harmon had to say in response to a shocking Jeff/Britta development (that we will see in tonight’s episode):

“If Community’s been adamant about anything, it’s that relationships mean nothing,” said Harmon. “Emotions mean everything, and sometimes emotions get exasperated by other people.”

I wish I understood that quote, readers. I wish that I could wrap my brain around the reasoning for it. I wish I knew WHY this show was so adamant about it not being about romance. Look, I don’t need Community to turn into The Mindy Project. I don’t need a make-out scene or a hook-up every episode. I don’t even need confessions of love. What I do need is for the writers to stop dancing around ever addressing any romantic pairing. I need them to commit to something or get out of the game entirely. I think it’s this whole “Community is subverting the trope” notion that is hurting the show. Yes, Community is a cult-like show. Yes, it’s not “mainstream.” Yes, I feel like a hipster when I talk about it.

But why does being “quality” suddenly become mutually exclusive from “deals with romance.” The show can pretend all it wants that these characters have no romantic attachments to one another or anyone outside of the group. It can try to convince me that after five years of attraction and one kiss, and at least two mentions of their relationship each season with no progression that Jeff and Annie simply exist around each other as if they were two individuals whose memories were wiped every time they entered the study room regarding their romantic past. That’s my biggest problem, really: the show cannot continue to try and convince us that five years later, Jeff and Annie are the same people they were in the first season and that – moreover – their relationship is just the same. It just exists. It never progresses and never gets resolved, no matter how many times that word is inserted into dialogue and no matter how many hugs or “long looks and stolen glances” we are thrown.

To disregard romance as an integral part of a television series is to also disregard it as an important part of the human experience. Because, after all, isn’t art supposed to imitate life? This is what frustrates me about that Dan Harmon quote and about Community in general: it preaches and boasts that it is a show about the human experience – it’s a show about growth and change and relationships – and yet it negates those very sermons it preaches by refusing to give weight to romance. It is a smart show with smart writers and smart people behind the camera. Why, then, can it not seem to master the art of integrating romance without becoming cliché? What, Dan Harmon, (to quote the brilliant Anna from Frozen) are you so afraid of?

I guess I’ll never know the real answer to the question and I’ll be left wondering if this show will ever realize that its characters are adults: that adults have romantic relationships and aren’t all emotionally stunted and have real, grown-up conversations that don’t regress them as individuals. I guess I’ll forever wonder what would have happened had the show been in the hands of someone like Greg Daniels or Mindy Kaling or Liz Meriwether or Mike Schur. I’ve never expected Jeff and Annie to skip off into the sunset together, holding hands and being happy forever. At this point, I’d settle for a conversation addressing their feelings and then finally – FINALLY – moving on. No more hugs. No more stolen looks. One final resolution. That’s all I really want, Harmon. If you want me to believe that these relationships – these “ships” – truly mean nothing, then kill them. All. Make every character on your show asexual in regards to every other character.

And then let us live in a blissful world where we can dream up whatever ships we would like and not be jerked around on-screen by your writers. And while you’re at it, tell Joel McHale and Alison Brie to stop having so much chemistry. Please and thank you.

Nick and Jess from New Girl & Danny and Mindy from The Mindy Project

I’ll never understand why there seems to be this thin layer of animosity between fans of New Girl and fans of The Mindy Project. It’s almost as if fans of each show have to “prove” to the other that their ship is somehow superior. Nick and Jess aren’t better than Danny and Mindy, and Danny and Mindy aren’t better than Nick and Jess. There! I solved all of your problems, fandom. You’re welcome. (Actually, I blame you all, entertainment writers, for comparing the series and stirring dissention that way.)

New Girl and The Mindy Project fans should actually be bonding – they’re sister shows, really, and feed off of each other. Liz and Mindy have similar writing styles and similar ways of running their shows. As I pointed out in my recent blog post, both shows have strong roots in female writers, which I think plays a very important role (in addition to the female show runner aspect) in how both series handle romantic relationships. Both New Girl and The Mindy Project did the “will-they-won’t-they” dance and I think it’s very significant as to WHEN each show runner knew it was time to commit or abandon the relationship angst/anxiousness.

One of my favorite television show runner quotes is this one from Liz Meriwether in regards to her decision to have Nick and Jess kiss at the end of “Cooler.” A kiss, might I add, that was not originally in the script:

“It just felt right. I mean we’ve sort of gotten to a place where it felt like organically in their relationship something like this could happen. I mean, we spent the season watching them get closer and closer as friends and then, the original draft of last night’s episode didn’t have them kissing and then we, you know, it was a really good script and we went to table as a draft of the script without them kissing and then we just all sort of looked at each other and felt like it sort of felt right. It also felt like if we didn’t have them kiss, it was kind of like pulling our punches; like we were not really being true to the characters in this moment. I think we were all ready for Nick to kind of step up to the plate and have a moment of confidence, whether or not it was the trench coat or not.”

I’ve always admired this chunk of text from Liz Meriwether and I admire it even more in light of “Mars Landing.” Liz knew when it was time to get Nick and Jess together because she was in tune with her characters and audience. She says that it wouldn’t be “true to the characters” in that moment if they DIDN’T kiss. That is something that is so important in regards to the progression of a will-they-won’t-they relationship. Note that she didn’t say “we didn’t want our audience to get bored” or “we really needed a ratings boost,” but that the will-they-won’t-they was acted upon because it have to be at a point in which it makes sense for them to make that leap. Characterization-wise, Meriwether nailed “Cooler” and she stuck the landing throughout the rest of the second season. When you draw out a relationship too long, you run the risk of alienating and frustrating your audience. But when you pull a trigger too early, there’s always the chance that your show will never recover from the fallout.

What was so difficult for Liz Meriwether to do, then, was to know the EXACT right moment for her characters to kiss. I think that it’s only because she was in tune with her characters that she was able to precisely locate and pull the trigger on this moment. Similarly, Liz recently made the decision to break up Nick and Jess in “Mars Landing” for similar reasons: she felt like she wasn’t being true to the characters if she kept them together, given their complex disagreement. And I completely and utterly agree with and respect Liz for her decision. It was made, once again, because she desired to be true to the characters. How can you hit the reset button and pretend to return to normal when their ideas for the future were so fundamentally different?

Liz and her team only allowed Nick and Jess’ tension to be carried out for about a year and a half before it was acted upon and then committed to the couple for another year. There’s no timetable, though, for when a show needs to have its characters act upon their tension. Take, for instance, The Mindy Project which… okay, maybe this is a bad example because the show had its characters kiss around the same episode mark as New Girl had. What’s so different about New Girl and The Mindy Project and what Mindy Kaling herself has vocalized is this: they’re completely different. They are different characters on different shows with different goals and dreams and visions and ideas of romance and relationships. Mindy and Jess aren’t alike, nor are Danny and Nick. Why, then, do people attempt to constantly compare the two pairings as if they were?

Speaking of The Mindy Project, this is a show that has always been about romance in the life of its central character, Mindy Lahiri. And I have to praise Mindy (the show runner) for recognizing that it was time to take a leap with Danny and Mindy as a pairing and then courageously (and realistically) taking a step back and having the characters break it off episodes later. What I found so refreshing about both the New Girl breakup and The Mindy Project one was that they were true to the essence of who the characters were. Brooke’s comment stung Danny and made him question whether or not he could survive losing Mindy as a friend if he inevitably broke their romantic relationship. Nick and Jess acknowledged that though they loved each other immensely, they couldn’t REALLY be themselves in their relationship without clashing every single day. Each breakup made sense; they were heart-wrenching, no doubt, but they made SENSE.

You see, pulling a trigger on a relationship is frowned upon in the television industry because it’s usually associated with doom or jumping the shark. But that’s if a trigger is pulled too soon or executed poorly. When the trigger is pulled at the right time, it adds a whole new, delightful and complex layer to a sitcom: relationships don’t destroy shows; relationships enhance them. They bring a sort of life to them that nothing else can bring. When you forgo writing romance into your sitcom because you’re either afraid that you’ll fail or else think that your show is somehow beyond the barriers of romance (looking at you, Community), then you lose something fundamentally human about your show. You lose the ability to have audience members relate to it more fully and deeply. That’s what separates a good show from a great show, really.

The Mindy Project knew that it was taking a risk in placing Danny and Mindy together, but it was the right time for the show to do it: these characters had been growing and developing and they suddenly reached a place in which both of their paths connected on a romantic level. And it just WORKED. Similar with New Girl, Mindy Kaling realized that she didn’t want Danny and Mindy to become the “Ross and Rachel” of this generation: she wasn’t interested in breaking them up and putting them back together repeatedly. She was interested in telling a true, gritty, romantic story about two messed up individuals who cared about each other but who also knew themselves and what they were capable of in a relationship. (Similar to New Girl, right?)

And that’s why I love both of the pairings on these shows: these are REAL, rounded characters who have grown but aren’t done growing; they love their significant others but they also know that they can only love them better once they grow and change more. Both the Nick/Jess and Danny/Mindy breakups were tear-inducing, but both were so true to the characters. Just, of course, as the way that each pairing began was true to the characters.

So now that I’ve made (some of) my peace with the “will-they-won’t-they” cliché, it’s time for you all to weigh in on the pairings that I listed. Feel free to discuss some others that I simply had no time to write about in the comments section, too, and keep the conversation going: do you think that romance can spell doom on a television sitcom? Do you think writers believe that once they get a pairing together that the story is over? How do YOU feel about “will-they-won’t-they” pairings and the clichés often associated with them? Let me know your thoughts and feelings and have a great day! :)


  1. Where you asked what Dan is afraid of? I think he is afraid of angering shippers no matter what direction he goes. Also I think this, he is not very great at writing romance at all.

  2. First off-- this is incredible writing, and the way that you approach each couple is honestly very intellectual and scholarly despite it being a discussion on emotion. So thank you so much for that.

    I agree with almost everything you've said but--as someone who just straight up loves TV--I really do want to ask you something about Nick and Jess (and CeCe and Schmidt, while we're at will-they-won't-they). Don't you think there is something a little bit--well, not dishonest, but maybe...careless? about Nick and Jess's kiss not being originally scripted? (I don't know where else to fit this but--do you agree and disagree with the will-they-won't-they with Schmidt and CeCe?) Don't you think it hurts a sitcom that these major emotional moments aren't alluded to better in prior episodes? I respect Meriwether's decision to listen to her characters but without sufficient lead-up it feels to me like inadequate planning more than an inner voice speaking to her. Same thing with the penny in his pants pocket from when he first kissed her (which felt like retcon) and the breakup (I thought he was going to propose--what sufficient lead-up could there have been in prior episodes to at least get a glimpse that something was wrong?). I just wanted to know if you could elaborate on that because I feel like I might have just missed the boat on Nick and Jess entirely (I liked Jess and Sam!) and I respect your writing, but I just find it so funny because the quote you cite from Liz is actually one of my least favorite quotes from a showrunner (the Dan Harmon one being the #1 LEAST favorite thing a showrunner has said; probably followed by Liz's comment that New Girl is really about Nick and Jess's love story, eugh).

    Anyway--I hope this didn't come across as rude or anything because I don't intend to be. I just love TV and love analyzing it, of course, but I have never been able to respect New Girl because of what I've listed above and I really want to know your input on it. Thank you so much!

    1. Ann, first of all thank you so much for the compliments and for reading this post! No worries: I've heard rude comments before and yours definitely is NOT rude; I totally understand your curiosity.

      The way that I see how Liz approached Nick and Jess is like this: she and Brett and Dave have never had a real clear idea of where they want the show to go. Unlike a show that has a set four-year plan (a la Community with the group graduating in May 2013, as stated in early episodes), I think New Girl has always written their show kind of flying by the seat of their pants sometimes. That's not great when that's how you write your ENTIRE show, but when you let that side of you -- that side that doesn't want to control the characters but let them breathe -- emerge, it's beneficial. I think that in "Cooler," Liz just knew that these two characters who had a lot of sexual tension and build-up in the episode and the ones prior ("Fluffer" and "Pepperwood") couldn't simply just KEEP dancing around each other. That's the drawback with the will-they-won't-they: eventually, chemistry turns into confusion and frustration among viewers.

      I don't think that the decision in "Cooler" or "Mars Landing" was careless, but it also wasn't PLANNED. Shows that have strict plans for their characters more often find chaos within the show when wrenches get thrown into their plans. Take, for instance, season four of Community which was shook up not just because of Harmon leaving but also because they were pulled from the schedule and ALL their holiday episodes were thrown off. Community runs a very tight ship when it comes to planning which is beneficial (New Girl could be a bit tighter with their planning, I will admit, or at least Liz could stop admitting that she has no idea what she's doing with the show because it's clear she has SOME idea, haha), but also detrimental (look at how tightly those writers and Harmon cling onto their ideas rather than letting the characters breathe; they end up stifling them sometimes because of it).

      I don't think that Liz knows how season four will end up. I don't think that it would be wise if she did. I think that she has some sort of structure to her show, though, and that if she continues to try to read the characters' wants and needs, she'll be good. A little structure never hurt anyone, but a lot of structure can choke the emotion and growth right out of the characters.

    2. I think the biggest example of clinging onto ideas rather than respecting characterization is How I Met Your Mother. Holy shit, what a trainwreck.

      I like what you are saying, and I think the most important thing is to respect the characters over whatever plot you are gravitating towards, but I...I just think I might be an anomaly when it comes to Nick and Jess. Do you remember when Liz said something along the lines of how they had to tone down on the sexual chemistry between Deschanel and Johnson in the first season, so they would have Jess, like, pat him on the shoulder instead of hug him? This is something I wouldn't have minded had not these three things happened: a) the (I think) fifth episode of the first season, where Cece comments that Nick has feelings for Jess (this is one of my favorite episodes of the show and I feel like they put that carrot there only to yank it away until Fluffer and Pepperwood); b) the 'love story' comment; and c) the retcon that Nick has loved Jess alllllllll along, from the moment she walked through the door. I guess that's what's stopping me from going full throttle with what you're saying. That seems like blatant pick-and-choose sensationalism rather than genuine acting choices and characters being allowed to breathe.

      And in contrast -- and ugh, I am SO sorry for bringing this on the table but I feel like it might be the best way to express what I want to say -- I feel that The Mindy Project respects its characters and allows them to make the decisions far before the plot does. One of my favorite quotes from Mindy Kaling is that you can write dialogue but you cannot write chemistry, and she and the other writers *had* to pursue Danny's feelings for Mindy based on how Chris Messina played Danny (by putting his hand on the small of her back when she crossed the street, for instance--or even in Mindy's Birthday when Mindy strokes his face and Danny gives her a look).

      I feel like Deschanel and Johnson do have chemistry but I just--I think it just doesn't make sense to me why Cooler *had* to be when they kissed, especially considering that in the first draft they didn't. And I want to like Nick and Jess so bad, but I just cannot get myself to! Same with Schmidt and Cece--I loved when he almost proposed to her in the sky but hated almost everything after that because, while I dig Schmidt as vulnerable to Cece, I just so greatly preferred what Elizabeth was to him (someone who accepted his past and present) than what Cece was to him (a hot model who I guess he just gained feelings for--I have to declare my ignorance here but I don't remember Cece and Schmidt bonding over tooooooo much, mostly because she did not respect him).

      Again, I realize that when I make incendiary comments they have the potential to irritate or seem close-minded, and I'm not going to pretend that I am an expert on New Girl, but--much like when I talk to someone of a different political party, actually!--I feel like it's a language I do not speak and I want to understand the rationale so badly and be clued into the secret. Thank you so much for listening to my bumbling along!

    3. Oh good lord that HIMYM ending was more than a train wreck -- it was like a train wreck and fire and every other disaster rolled into one.

      I can see where you're coming from in regards to the New Girl stuff. My defense is that the reason they had Jake and Zooey tone down the chemistry is that they thought they *might* pursue something but they didn't want to do what, oh, say Community has done: put a lot of meaningful, tension-filled moments in there if they weren't ready to do anything about them. And I think that for Liz, the biggest reason she added the "Cooler" kiss wasn't just because it felt right but because it felt REAL and shock-inducing, you know? It was a perfectly paralleled moment because it caught both us off-guard and the characters off-guard. I think that what Liz realized later on, and perhaps in hindsight, was that the relationship between Nick and Jess somehow had evolved into the heart of the show. The story was always about Jess and the guys, but now it was about her and this ONE guy who seemed totally wrong for her but was completely right. (I actually addressed my take on the "Exes" comment from Nick in my review. You can find it by searching through the New Girl Review tag!)

      Like I said above: I think in hindsight, Liz recognized how much chemistry these two had but MORE than just chemistry was that there was a STORY there. I think she threw "Cece Crashes" in there because there was always a chance that Jess could have romance with any character (look at "The Story of the 50" with an almost-kiss between Schmidt and Jess). But I think the more she watched the story evolve and the way that Jake PLAYED Nick, the more she got on board the love story, you know?

      And I love and adore Mindy and am glad she's letting the characters tell the story. But like I said, too, I think that it's just realizing WHEN to pull the trigger. She may not have built in Messina's acting, but she's used it to make "shipper" moments happen, too. But there was still a conscious moment that both show runners knew they HAD to make a decision or else the frustration would mount among viewers. Because when you have two really attractive couples, one of them HAS to make a move eventually. ;)

      I think that the bottom line is that the closer we are to a show, the more we feel we know the show. I've done New Girl reviews all season long and it's my third year doing Community ones -- I feel like I watch these shows differently than most people, you know? And I don't watch The Mindy Project or Parks and Rec in the same kind of critical vein that I do with the other two. I enjoy all of them but I defend them in different ways. If that makes any sense, haha. And I think that's maybe why New Girl/Mindy fans are so divisive sometimes -- they just are SO close to their shows and it's hard to separate the critical part of you from the fan part, you know? Anyway, thanks for letting ME babble and thanks for commenting! I love hearing opinions. :)

    4. I love this so much!!! And I really do see your point and I love that you look at Community and New Girl critically. I might have to go back and read some of your other stuff, because you almost certainly do watch these shows differently than 99% of the people.

      As a big Mindy Project fan, I feel like I know that show better than almost anything and think it is such a goldmine when it comes to critical analysis, and I love that you have found that in another show. And what you said about Nick and Jess is such an educated way of rationalizing what Liz has done and I really appreciate that, so thank you.

      (I still dig Sam and Jess, though. Sorry, I mean Katie)

    5. Thanks so much Ann! Isn't it amazing how protective you grow to be over a show once you start watching it critically? I just started to - in recent years - consume television more critically and it's broadening my way of thinking about my favorite shows. It's been a complete adventure and I love that you've found that in The Mindy Project!

      (Man, I'll ship Nick/Jess until the day I die, but I DO miss me some David Walton. Which reminds me that I need to catch up on About A Boy, haha.) Thanks for all your thoughtful comments! :)

  3. In light of recent comments as far as Community is concerned, I say, let's wait until the last two episodes of the season. I don't expect there to be a major resolution, but the rumblings I've been hearing make it sound like romance will be addressed. That Dan Harmon quote you included sounds like such BS, and I think Dan knows it's BS. Based on what I know about the context of that quote, I think it was really an inelegant way of saying, "Things aren't always as they seem."

    Anyway, Dan also said right before the beginning of this season in an interview with IGN:

    "You stand Jeff next to Annie, you feel the energy crackle off the screen. In other ways than I thought, there is a distinct, chemical lack of chemistry between Jeff and Britta. There's a beautiful kind of ex-girlfriend/sibling, familiar bond between them. I really like to see them go on funny missions together, and I like to see Jeff and Annie go on more idealistic adventures, and I like to address the fact that 'We're all gorgeous, and we're all single. I'm a man, you're a woman, and that makes things difficult. I have feelings.' AND WE DO GO THERE WITHIN THE 13 EPISODES IN A RELATIVELY LARGE WAY." (capitalization added by me)

    I find Dan Harmon isn't always straightforward, but he also doesn't usually outright lie. So... I think SOMETHING will happen on tonight and next week's episodes. Not sure what it'll be, but for some crazy reason, I'm keeping my hopes up.

    1. Maybe it makes me a bad shipper, but I'm with the writer that I wouldn't mind just seeing the Jeff/Annie ship get a proper sinking at this point. But not in this season, not after last night's episode. Jeff's in such a dark place right now, I want it to end in a way that will be funny and enjoyable, the way that Jeff and Britta did back in season 2, with them continuing on as friends. I was a former Jeff and Britta shipper, but they reached a conclusion that I really liked, and I've liked them together as friends ever since. Jeff and Annie deserve that level of consideration.

    2. I think that the 'we do go there in a relatively large way' might be in reference to the Ass-Crack Bandit episode where they teamed up and "addressed" their issues. (Yeah, they "addressed" them.)

      I'm not holding my breath for the season finale, given what happened in the last one. And actually at this point, I would hate for Annie and Jeff to even resolve or start anything based on how selfishly and desperately he proposed to Britta.

    3. If nothing notable happens in the finale, then I guess the ACB really was the "going there," even though I don't think that should be considered conclusive enough to really count. Or it could have been in reference to the proposal, but I don't think even Dan Harmon would talk about Jeff and Annie's great chemistry and then mention how they're going to "go there," but in reference to Jeff/Britta. Without much of anything teased about the finale, it's hard to know what exactly to make of the current state of affairs. So ... we'll see.

    4. Oh I definitely don't think it's conclusive enough to count, haha. But then again... this is Harmon. That was his token "one episode per season where JA address their chemistry" moment. ;)

      Eh, it's hard to know anything at this point regarding the finale. Who knows: maybe it WILL be an "it was all in Jeff's head because he's still in a coma" thing, and he really didn't propose to Britta. But it's tough to say when we know so little about how the season and possibly series will end. Hold onto that hope, Jeffrey! ;)

  4. Lately, any time I hear Dan Harmon or other writers or fans talk about how romance can't be done in "Community" because of how the tropes are worn-out in other shows, all I hear is a version Abed's line from "Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons":
    "A satisfying [sitcom romance] is difficult to pull off. So many geniuses have defeated themselves through hubris making this a chance to prove I'm better than all of them...I'M IN!!!"

    It should be a challenge. I want "Community" to tackle romance properly (not lake the aborted arc with Troy and Britta in the gas leak year) because it's one of the few shows that genuinely treats friendship as more important than romance. I think it would have new and interesting things to say about it if it took the chance. And Rachel already proved that there are sooooo many romance cliches for them to homage and mock.

    1. I just don't even understand how a show that has done well with other homages and styles, etc. could think that they're somehow so evolved that they just don't NEED romance. Romance doesn't sink shows -- bad WRITING sinks shows. And at this point, the lack-of-romance (actually, not lack-of-romance but just lack-of-committal-and-closure-on-ANY-ship) is hurting the show more than hooking up a pairing ever could.

      The writers and Harmon just have never mastered that or even come close to mastering it because they all seem to be rather emotionally stunted themselves, and it's such an integral thing to NEED to master when you're writing a show about six individuals. You can't just pretend like it doesn't exist, you know?