To the J/A community:
I've been delving into a lot of your tweets and discussions about the blowup we had in the past week. And I feel bad about what trouble I've caused you. I think you deserve a longer form response from me. These are the main questions I assume you all have. I hope my responses will give you some perspective.
- Why did you call us pathological?
Several of you demanded an explanation for Annie’s behavior in a promo. Many of you jumped to some really wrong-headed conclusions about that promo. No other shippers, no other fans, do that to me. It put me on the defensive. The episode hadn’t even aired and I had people in my timeline yelling at me that the episode sucked.
Then when the episode aired, many of you started yelling at me about future episodes that hadn’t aired. The general consensus was that the season had to play out in a very specific way for you guys, and if it didn’t, I was a hack. I’m sorry, but that strikes me as rude and unfair. I could have been more polite. But you hurt me and I took pleasure in hurting you back. So there. I’m not better than you. I didn’t rise above it. We’re all wrong in this stupid fight.
- Why did you engage us when you know damn well you should have just shut up?
Community is the most amazing experience we’ve all ever had together. I never ever want to stop communicating with Community fans. This is completely unique in the world of televised entertainment. So I couldn’t bring myself to just ignore fans. It’s actually addictive for me, as I’m pretty sure it is for you too. But it just so happened that the fans who were engaging me after Alison’s article came out were demanding explanations for things, and when I started offering explanations, the cycle of misunderstanding took over.
At first I didn’t even realize what was happening. All I knew was that people were DEMANDING answers from ME. So I answered questions as well as I could without spoiling the season. But people were demanding to know if Jeff and Annie would finally get together this season. The answer is no. I’m sorry, but we took things a different way. But I didn’t want to spoil that. So I just tried to explain how what you saw in 403 could possibly jibe with what Alison said in her interview.
And the answer to that is something that I believe and you don’t. I believe it’s entirely possible for Jeff Winger to have that moment with Annie Edison, and then not act on it. In fact I think it’s in character for him.
- But you said there will always be heat between them. You said they were playing with fire and they were deluding themselves. Why did you say those things if you didn’t mean them? Why did you lie to us?
I promise you I did not lie. I guess what we’re talking about here is a misunderstanding. I seriously, swear to God, had NO idea when I made those statements, that I was implying to you that there would be progress in their relationship. I believe those statements, and I also believe they do not mean that Jeff and Annie must end up together for those statements to be true. But evidently many of you do.
And when more people started grilling me on that, I got more and more defensive. I felt trapped in one of those arguments where you can’t even agree to disagree because you keep seeing your statements twisted right in front of you.
I really, honestly, with all my heart, believe that we are not wrong to treat this relationship the way we’re treating it. But you guys have decided we are wrong, which is your right as fans, as viewers. I have no issue with you if you hate what we’re doing with the show. You’re free to feel that. It makes me sad, but you’re free to feel it and I don’t think any less of you for feeling it. Seriously, if you just think we’re hacks and we’ve destroyed the show, that’s not what’s driving me crazy, that’s not what’s making me angry, that’s not why I started yelling back at you. It makes me doubt myself as a writer, yes. But it wasn’t why I was a dick to you.
The reason I was a dick to you is you were treating me like a hostile defendant in a court case. You were insisting that the show made legally binding promises to you, and that is simply incorrect. And you were insisting that only reckless people who didn’t know the characters would do what we did, and I take offense at that.
- What about you not even knowing Jeff’s age, you idiot?
I’ll expand on my hastily tweeted response: My first week on the show, at the top of Season 2, I pitched to Dan that I thought Jeff and Annie should return for their sophomore year having hooked up all summer. Dan said (in pretty harsh language, I’ll add, I mean he really kind of made me feel like an idiot for pitching this) that their age difference would make that inappropriate. At the time, I swear to fucking God, Dan placed them at 18 and 35. Sophomore year. So that’s how I got those numbers in my head. It was pointed out to me that later in that season, Jeff seems to say he was 19 when he shot the Faith video, which would make him 4 years younger than I thought. Although I don’t think he says it definitively. I think he leaves wiggle room. He could have been understating his age because it would have been embarrassing to admit he was actually 23. Whatever, I’ll try not to take that cowardly tack because it’s actually irrelevant to our argument, and I’m sorry I tried to make it relevant. What is relevant is that Jeff Winger has always had some real screwed up issues around Annie. I’m sorry to report that we showed you what looked like real progress in 403 and that we didn’t honor that progress during the rest of season 4. But I stand by the fact that what we’re doing with that scene and the rest of season 4 is entirely consistent with everything we know about these characters.
- Did you actually say that the scene in 403 was a mistake?
I think you read a lot into what I said, and I confess I didn’t say it well at all. The scene is canon. I was attempting to relay a story (twitter’s horrible for that) about the writing of that scene. There was plenty of discussion in the room about Jeff’s speech. Some felt that Jeff could say something like that, something like “If we were married…” and it did not necessarily have to be taken as flirtatious. Some others of us in the room disagreed, me in particular. I thought if Jeff goes anywhere near that kind of statement, it will play as flirtatious. Mind you, I had no problem with him flirting with her, but it seemed at odds with Annie’s setup. Here we have Annie saying, essentially, “Don’t read anything into my fantasy,” and then we have Jeff responding by saying something incredibly romantic. It’s an off-kilter moment, but completely in line with the off-kilter relationship Jeff and Annie have. At the end of that discussion I thought, “Ok, well it looks like we’re leaning into some Jeff/Annie stuff with this episode.” Later in the season, after that episode was shot, one of the people who felt it wasn’t romantic confessed to me that when she was on set and saw it in front of her, she realized that it was obviously romantic and there would be no other way to take it. I hope that story does not give you the impression that we think of it as a mistake. I hope that story confirms for you that, like I said, there is heat between them and their lot in life will be to figure out what to do with that heat.
- Do you actually believe that Jeff immediately regretted saying that?
No. Sorry about that one. What I shouldn’t have said was “immediately.” What I wish I had said, which will probably be just as painful for you guys to hear, is that I believe it is entirely possible for Jeff to have gone home that night and regretted pushing it so far.
Can we put aside our quibbles about what kind of age spread is creepy, or how committed he looked in that scene, or how I could be so stupid as to not remember that Faith video? And can we at least agree on one thing that I hope and pray you can all see as clearly as I can? That Jeff Winger sabotages his relationships, and that Jeff Winger, deep down, doesn’t think he deserves happiness? Do you guys not buy that?
If not, maybe I’m just pathological.