Okay, I finally got the season 5 DVDs and I would love some discussion with other Jeff x Annie shippers, specifically on…
- The Basic Story Commenty
- The Basic Sandwich Commentary
- The Featurette “2 Scripts, 5 Days, No Sleep”
Obvously the Basic Sandwich commentary because of the discussion of the…
I think you have a point that in the “Basic Story” commentary, Dan does come across as trying to pacify J/B shippers with his remarks to an extent. But also I’ve always maintained (and this is just IMHO), that Dan held on to his original plan for J/B, which is that they were ultimately meant to be together in a relationship that was slightly dysfunctional but also met their needs, up until the point when he realized that if he went in that direction he’d have to live with it for the remainder of Community's existence.
The problem seems to be (based on what we see in the doc, Dan’s comments, and comments from Tim Sarcaddo and Andy Bobrow over on reddit) that once they ran out of road and Dan had to finally commit to a fate for J/B and J/A, they simply couldn’t see how they could make J/B work. Not just for the Basic Story/Basic Sandwich arc, but in the broader context of the show itself. In addition (and this is strictly Bobrow saying this), they decided that going with J/A made for better television.
That said, I kind of get what Dan was getting at when he went into his confusing explanation about why he was originally discussing J/B as the ultimate endgame for the episode, and it all comes down to that one word, “familiarity.”
Britta arguably knows Jeff the best out of everyone in the study group. They’ve had an intimate relationship, and she knows the most about how the dynamics of Jeff’s birth family have scarred and twisted him. These are things that Annie simply doesn’t know, in large part because Jeff has hidden those elements from her where he hasn’t done so with Britta. Now, in a sense, he wasn’t entirely wrong to do so. I highly doubt 18 year-old Annie would’ve been able to come close to dealing with it, but the end result is that long after Annie had reached the point where she could deal with it, he was still freezing her out of that aspect of himself. In short, Jeff never gave Annie that chance to be there for him and as a result, she doesn’t get to be there for him when it really matters. That’s hardly Annie’s fault, but that is the end result.
But here’s where it gets interesting. Much as there are aspects of Jeff that Annie knows nothing about (aspects that Britta is intimately familiar with), there are also aspects of Annie that Jeff knows nothing about. We’re not even sure what, if anything, he knows about Annie’s family situation. He’s probably not even aware that Annie harbors a deep well of anger against her mother to the point where it’s almost, but not quite self-sabotaging (which was hinted at in “VCR Maintenance” when her bout of honesty blew up in her face). He certainly thought up until “Basic Sandwich” that Annie’s feelings for him were nothing more than a crush and not very deep.
What’s more, outside of her relationship with Vaughn, we don’t know if Jeff has ever actually seen Annie in an intimate relationship with a man. Abed made an oblique reference to Annie having them in “Cooperative Polygraphy,” but those relationships have never impacted the group in any way since they never even rose to the level of an oblique reference on any episode.
In a lot of ways (and excuse the phasing that could come across as sexist here), Annie is an undiscovered country for Jeff. As well as he thinks knows her after five years, there’s a lot he simply does not know and a lot of those things he doesn’t know are potential hazards to any theoretical relationship. It could make the relationship impossible to pursue, or make the relationship a disaster once he’s in it. Exacerbating all this is the habit both Jeff and Annie have developed in not being entirely honest or frank in their dealings with each other. While Annie has been more open, even she will go with the pretense that there’s nothing but friendship here, so move it along and don’t discuss it.
I’m not saying that Jeff views Annie as a fantasy figure. I don’t believe that for a second, mostly because he’s well aware of her flaws. What I’m saying is that Jeff is probably more painfully aware (in large part due to experience) of the potential for disaster in trying to pursue a relationship with Annie because there are so many unknown factors. Hell, even on the most basic level, he knows nothing about what she’d be like in bed or whether they’re even sexually compatible.
So, in that context, I get where Dan was going with “the deeper well of love” comment. Jeff and Britta have a strong connection because of their shared past and familiarity with each other. That’s why when the chips were down they went running to each other. They both knew exactly what they’d get out of the deal. But what’s more, if you listen to conversation that led up to the proposal, this is both of them giving up on their dreams. For Britta, it’s to be a therapist and changing the world for the better, even if it’s one person at a time. For Jeff, it’s actually being able to crawl out of the hole he finds himself in. They’re giving in to the system they both hate, so they might as well give in all the way. That’s actually a very sad reason to get married.
Even though Jeff now knows he’s in love with Annie, he does not have that same shared past and familiarity with her. Is a good portion of that love rooted in reality? I would say yes. But there’s also a portion of that love that’s based a little bit on fantasy and a little bit on hope, which may or may not be disappointed in the cold light of reality. Until he lets Annie cross his defenses as much as (preferably more than) he’s let Britta cross his defenses, there’s no way for his relationship with Annie to become strong enough to replace what he’s arguably lost with Britta as a result of the events in “Basic Sandwich.”
I just want to add: that last paragraph above is a big reason why I hope that when S6 begins, we actually see Jeff and Annie acting like friends and having real conversations with each other. It would go a long way to signal that Jeff is at least trying to open himself up to Annie, and it would go a long way to showing that Annie is on equal footing with Jeff.