'Virtual Systems Analysis': A Look Inside the Heart and Dreamatorium of 'Community'
'Virtual Systems Analysis': A Look Inside the Heart and Dreamatorium of 'Community'
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Could somebody please hand Danny Pudi an Emmy now? Because the actor's portrayal of Abed in "Virtual Systems Analysis" was nothing short of brilliant. Pudi -- with a significant assist from Alison Brie and the rest of the cast -- used the bizarreness of the Dreamatorium to give us a Community episode as full of heart as it was hilarious.

Somehow, Community has made Abed, an emotional and inaccessible character, into the huge and warm heart of the show. And it works.

The warmest (and oddest) episodes of Community are those in which we take a peek inside Abed's head. "Critical Film Studies" (aka the My Dinner with Andre episode) and "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" were brilliant Community episodes. And yet they totally lacked the cynicism we so frequently ascribe to the program.

It's by taking the effort to explore the emotions of a seemingly unemotional character that Community finds its weird heart in Abed. The other Community characters do recognize this, even if it's not always obvious to the audience. Such recognition became clear in "Virtual Systems Analysis" when Abed took the form of Jeff.

Dreamatorium Jeff was the cynical and horny cool guy we all know so well. He was also a fake. And Annie knew it immediately. The "real" Jeff wouldn't just be cool. Jeff, like the rest of Community's odd assortment of characters, loves Abed.

(As an aside, how about we give the whole Community cast a bag full of Emmys. The subtle infusing of Abed into each character's personality in "Virtual Systems Analysis" was almost frighteningly well done.)

Abed doesn't see his friends' love, of course. But neither do we, a lot of the time. He's too busy building literal rooms of his own imagination, and we're too busy laughing.

But why and how does Abed sometimes turn that laughter into caring?

Abed is all of our own insecurities about friendship and the world. All of the insecurities -- but none of the coping mechanisms that we build up over the years in order to survive. A glimpse into Abed's mind lays bare every fear us "normal" people hide: Do our friends really like us? Who are we? What happens when the world doesn't care? We hide these fears so well, sometimes we forget them.

Except that we don't really forget our insecurities. They're always waiting for us, like that giant locker we secretly suspect the world wants to use for us when it doesn't want to bother anymore. Those insecurities follow us into our own personal Dreamatoriums. And we all have a Dreamatorium of some sort. Ours are just not as cool as Abed's, with its customized cardboard piping.

It's healthy for us to open the doors to our Dreamatoriums. But, thanks to Community and to Abed, we don't have to devote hours and hours of every week to the dreams that battle our fears. One weekly half hour of Community takes care of our Dreamatorium time just fine.

(Image courtesy of NBC)