My Completely Unashamed Love Letter to a Ficational Character


A few weeks ago over at my livejournal I posted  a picspam/essay about why I love the character Britta Perry from the show Community so much, and while it started out sounding okay, it kind of devolved into  crazy fangirling. I think it’s because I was posting the pictures to my live journal as I was writing the essay, so it was kind of like watching the episode again. And I kind of fail at rational thought when I’m watching the show, because I just enjoy it so damn much. So my brain refused to behave rationally on that one. So I figured I’d try again without the pics, and that maybe I’d manage to be a little more sane about the whole thing.

I ship Jeff and Annie. A lot. Possibly more than a lot. It’s probably reached the point of being somewhat unhealthy, and if I was truly honest with my therapist about the amount of time I devote to a couple that isn’t actually real, I would likely be much more heavily medicated than I am. People assume that since I am a Jeff/Annie fan that I hate Britta. But I don’t. Britta is actually my favorite character on the show. I love Britta and I ship Jeff/Annie. It’s possible. I’m walking proof.

I actually didn’t like Britta for a good chunk of the first season. Thanks to The West Wing and that black hole of sucking known as Mandy Hampton, I have a reflexive dislike of characters that seem like they’re being written specifically to be the foil and romantic interest for the main guy. And for the first part of the first season, I kind of felt like that’s what Britta was, whether the writers meant for her to be or not. I just thought that the  “rebel” thing rang so false. Ooh, she’s a badass. She’s protested things and been tear gassed and she didn’t finish high school and she likes Radiohead. She’s so against the mainstream! Surely she will be Jeff Winger’s badassed salvation. I kind of hated that. A lot.

It was about halfway through the season when the character  began to feel genuine. Quirky characteristics kept being thrown into the character, but whereas initially they seemed to be treated as “reasons Britta is against the mainstream and is so cool”, they began to be shown in a different light. Mostly the “there’s something genuinely wrong with this person, and that’s not necessarily attractive” light.  These faults that at first were there to make her look cool were now there to make her look human. And I started to fall in love.

The moment I knew for sure it was love was during Romantic Expressionism. The whole way that early scene unfolds between Britta and Annie is kind of brilliant. Britta is clearly resistant to the idea of Annie dating Vaughn, but she wants to be cool , so she kind of sort of gives her the okay. Annie then says that Britta is the “coolest girl” she’s ever met. Britta quickly proves that’s not so by responding with “Give me some fivesies.” Annie does, and Britta turns it into a snake. At this point, even Annie thinks she’s a dork.

And that’s what Britta is. A huge dork playing at coolness.  The episode just gets better and better, with insecurity pretty much seeping out of Britta’s pores until she finally breaks down and admits that she doesn’t want Vaughn dating anyone else, especially Annie. She’s not that cool, okay, homeslice.

Britta’s at her best when she’s getting kicked. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say when you’re talking about your favorite character, but it’s true. I like Britta because I get her. I’m not one of those people who goes around saying they identify with the coolest characters on their favorite shows. I love Agent Dale Cooper a whole lot, but nothing about what he does resembles me or my life in any way.  I’m pretty honest about the fact that I’m a mess. And so is Britta. And yeah, sometimes when I step back from it, that mess is just as funny as it is sad. So when the group is making fun of her for pronouncing the word “bagel” wrong, or getting on her for being a buzz kill, I can laugh, because I get it. And yeah, it hurt at the time, but when you look back on it… it was funny.

Another reason I love Britta (and relate to her) is her track record of failure. Like Jeff said in this weeks’ episode, “Don’t worry. She’ll be bad at it.” Britta’s key characteristic in the group, other than the whole buzzkill thing,  is that she fails, whether it’s at friending a lesbian or pulling off a prank, she’s never quite successful.  But she keeps trying. She’s so earnest in her attempts that when she fails, it’s impossible not to feel for her. She tries so damn hard.

But what REALLY makes her such an amazing character is that oftentimes she’s trying really hard for really selfish reasons, which I think was highlighted well in this week’s episode. She was driven back to her “rage against the machine” mode not because he friend was in peril, but because she wanted to be in peril, because she wanted a facebook group, because she wanted to be recognized. She tried (and failed) so earnestly for very self-centered reasons. Any other show, and the situation would probably make me hate the character. But this is Community. And the writers of Community manage to make a character’s flaws a reason to love them. These flaws just add a whole new facet to the characters. A whole new side of them to love, warts and all, just as the characters love each other.

I hope I’ve somehow managed to express my feelings for Britta in a way that doesn’t sound crazy. Because I’m pretty sure the way I feel about her might be a little crazy. I’m pretty sure I have family members I don’t feel this strongly about. Again, something that, if I were to tell my therapist, would probably at least shift my treatment. Maybe if I was more honest therapy really would be like In Treatment, and I wouldn’t feel like I was wasting a lot of my parents’ money every week because my therapy session didn’t turn into some intense battle of wills. But, really, I’d rather just keep lying and go on with loving television characters more than real people. That’s healthy, right?


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