By Alyssa Rosenberg
I absolutely adore Community, and have since the show’s debut. But it’s always struck me as a little strange that while Community’s study group may have a black ex-jock, a white ex-lawyer, a South Asian aspiring filmmaker, a deranged fraudulent Asian Spanish teacher, and a half-Jewish recovering addict. But it doesn’t have a single real gay person. Sometimes, it’s as if Community is so comfortable in the diversity of its universe that the show’s just skipped beyond a necessary-but-cliche coming-out arc. Troy, the former football player, and Abed, the Aspergerian pop-culture savant, have the most comfortably homosocial friendship on television. They’re close enough—and secure enough in the nature of their relationship—to reenact professions of love from Star Wars, or to reject women who don’t find both of them equally cool. Greendale Dean Pelton is potentially gay, but the show spends more time on his sexual practices—Dalmation fetishes! Lady Gaga costumes! blanket forts!—than his sexual identity.
The one hint that series creator Dan Harmon might have a larger vision in mind came earlier this season when Annie (Alison Brie), egged on by an addled Pierce, moved in to kiss Britta:
In Community’s fractured way, Annie is having the study group’s most typical college experience, and in this season, she’s moved to the show’s center. The first time she gets drunk, Annie fakes a new identity and admits she’s exhausted by her reputation as a striver. Broke, she scrapes for the rent on her apartment above a sex shop in a bad neighborhood. And Annie’s thrown herself into college dating, taking up with a hippie, chasing an older doctor, and kissing Jeff.
I was curious about all of this, so when I got a chance to talk to Alison Brie this afternoon about the show’s next foray into paintball, I asked her whether Annie might explore her sexual orientation further.
“With Annie, to be honest, I could see her getting with a girl,” she told me, emphasizing that. “It seems like it would be out of character for her, but I just like to go back to the fact that she’s young and impressionable and still figuring out who she is and what she wants to. It’s one of her best qualities that though she seems uptight, she’ll try everything….We’re pro gay people on the show. I think the Dean is one of those character that has just been morphing along in this odd fashion, and a lot of it comes from Dan Harmon, and a lot of it comes from Jim Rash in things that he’ll improv. The point of the show is comedy. We’re not trying to take a stand about any of those things. It’s a possibility that more gay stuff could creep in.”
I hope Harmon and company give it a shot. For all the progress television’s making in its depictions of gay characters, shows still struggle to depict characters who are bisexual or questioning their sexuality well. Glee‘s done pretty well with Brittany and Santana’s storylines, but it’s a fairly rare outlier. Community‘s so smart about so many other aspects of friendship, dating, and growing up that I think the show could knock an arc like this out of the park.