RTBN 25 Days of Christmas: Day Ten
Day Ten: "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
We've talked already about how Christmas is an intensely personal holiday, full of traditions unique to each individual. Most other holidays have uniform celebrations: Everyone gets dressed up and hunts for candy on Halloween, everyone eats more than they should on Thanksgiving, but each person's Christmas is likely to be a little different. We have also discussed the idea that the holidays aren't always the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is a time when people ban together to fight off the darkness of winter, when people surround themselves with friends and joy and focus on looking forward to how the next year will be better, often at least in part so they can avoid dwelling on the ways the last year failed to live up to expectations. So when Community centered its second season's Christmas episode around Abed, it was a choice that was both completely unsurprising and completely perfect for the occasion.

"Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" will always be remembered as "the stop-motion episode," one in a long line of high-concept Community episodes, but also, for my money, one of the best. The episode's style is an obvious homage to the Rankin-Bass specials (whose lack of presence in this feature is largely due to how little input I had in its initial planning stages. Sorry, Rankin-Bass fans, I was running the ramp-up to list season while Rachel planned this all out), and it does just enough to make its "Abed is crazy, just go with it" explanation of the plot plausible. Basically, if you're willing to go on the journey with the show, the fact that it has made one of its characters certifiable (and that it tries to raise the stakes by telling him he may get kicked out of school, which is the least of his worries if he is this delusional) to get there probably won't bug you that much.

And it shouldn't. This is a Christmas episode, wherein Abed tries desperately to find the meaning of Christmas to make up for a hole at the center of his Christmas tradition, and it hits all of the right emotional beats to make its story land. The episode gives each character a minor emotional arc, even as it keeps Abed at its center. This is a Christmas episode that is willing to dive deep into the depressing side of the holiday, with many of its characters' inherent abandonment issues bubbling just under the surface at this vulnerable time of year. But it is also a Christmas special, which means that, in the end, everyone finds the meaning of Christmas, finds solace in each other, and learns to overcome their own loneliness by forming a new Christmas tradition with their pseudo-family. Individually, each member of Community's core cast is a mess; a broken human being desperate for a second chance in a life they have all messed up. But together, they can find a way through the darkness and a path toward redemption. That's what's great about Community, and in one of its best episodes, it reminds us that is what's great about Christmas as well.

Tomorrow on RTBN 25 Days of Christmas:

Christmas gets a shade darker when Sam looks at Batman Returns.
comments powered by Disqus