Abed is reasonably sure he is in a sitcom. He knows the signs. There’s hijinks, usually on a weekly basis with the highest stakes reserved for sweeps week. Then there’s the roles. Jeff’s your standard Deadpan Snarker, Brilliant But Lazy Decoy Protagonist with Daddy Issues (and a Heart of Gold). Britta looked like she’d start as a Granola Girl Love Interest but evolved over time into a Straw Feminist Straight Man Butt Monkey (with A Heart of Gold). Annie ricochets between the Chick, the Lancer, and the Smart Guy, all while being Ms. Fanservice with a side helping of Badass Adorable (with a Heart of Gold). Shirley’s the Sassy Black Woman when she’s not a Glurge Addict Fundamentalist but you should know to Beware the Nice Ones with her Stepford Smiler tendencies (alongside her Heart of Gold). Clearly, Troy’s a Jerk Jock who became a Black and Nerdy Manchild Breakout Character (with a Heart of Gold). And Pierce was Innocent Bigot, Manipulative Bastard, Butt Monkey with occasional forays into the Token Evil Teammate (with a Heart of…hmm. Fine, a Heart of Gold is valid for him too).
The point isn’t how many oddly specific capitalized phrases Abed can apply to his friends (answer: many). The point is how well they all fit together. In real life, groups of misfits just don’t assemble like this. A group so coincidental diverse but harmonious while still producing consistent tension has to be the result of network interference.
Cool, cool, cool.
Course load for Junior Year, First Semester
Biology 101: Introduction to Biology (6)
English 345: Advanced Film Studies (3)
English 365: Modern Drama (3)
Theater 218: Voice and Body Movement (3)
Theater 431: Directing (3)
Class 261: Advanced LEARNING!!! (3)
The Dark Knight Falls So He Can Rise To Fall To Rise
Darkness. The absence of light. The opposite of the day. The darkest darkness like the darkness that blind men see, but even darker than that. The night air smells acrid and bitter, like pennies coated in blood left in the gutter to be rained on while the bums and the filth of the street burn this town to the ground. I’m above all that, high in the rafters, waiting, watching, then waiting some more, ready to swoop down like justice and get all tangled up in your hair.
My legs hurt from crouching. I don’t feel it. The pain fuels me. My legs shake with anger and vengeance. I am the spirit of the night.
“Abed? Sorry, I mean, Batman. Why don’t you come in and get some dinner before bed?”
“I don’t sleep. I wait.”
“Troy ordered Chinese.”
Justice has waited so long. It can wait for another fifteen minutes.
Abed’s TV Schedule for the Upcoming Year (Live Action, First Time Watching Only)
Sherlock, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Sentinel, Star Trek: Voyager, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, The Vampire Diaries, Children’s Hospital, Homeland, Chuck, Web Therapy, Louie, Sons of Anarchy, Men of A Certain Age, Boomtown, Misfits, Treme, Merlin, Dragnet, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Beauty and the Beast, Northern Exposure, Death Valley, Come Fly With Me, Manimal, Riptide, Magnum P.I., Brimstone, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Green Wings, Black Mirror,The Tomorrow People, Mr. Terrific, Hank, Sledge Hammer, Poochinski, Green Acres, Dallas, Sliders, Lucky Louie, The Professionals, Life on Mars (US), Coupling (UK), and Whitney.
List subject to change if Troy can think of anything else they should add.
First, face towards Mecca.
Yinsen, Iron Man.
Standing, you raise both hands up next to your ears. "Allahu Akbar."
Jamal and Salim Malik, Slumdog Millionaire.
Place one hand on top of the other between your stomach and your breast and recite.
Sayid Jarrah, Lost.
Raise your hands again and repeat, "Allahu Akbar." Then bow. "Subhana rabbiyal adheem."
"Subhana rabbiyal adheem."
Arastoo Vaziri, Bones.
"Subhana rabbiyal adheem."
Sallah, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Rise. "Sami’a Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal hamd"
Gad Hassan, The Mummy.
"Allahu Akbar" once more, then assume sujud. "Subhana Rabbiyal A'ala."
Ahmad ibn Fadlan, The 13th Warrior.
"Subhana Rabbiyal A'ala."
Aisha al-Fadhil, The Losers.
"Subhana Rabbiyal A'ala."
Abu "Imam" al-Walid, The Chronicles of Riddick, Pitchblack.
Rise to a sitting position. “Allahu Akbar."
Azeem, Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves.
Then prostrate again, your face on the ground."Subhana Rabbiyal A'ala."
Zafar Younis, Zaf, Ibn Khaldun, Fiona Carter, Spooks/MI5
"Subhana Rabbiyal A'ala."
Faiza Hussain (Excaliber), Captian Britain.
"Subhana Rabbiyal A'ala."
Aladdin et al, Disney’s Aladdin.
There’s more to it than just that. But the instructions always leave out the most important steps as you offer your praise: Remember to be grateful for what little you get while being too keenly aware that it’s no where near enough.
November 8, 1996
His mother smells like golonka, perfume, and deodorant. Abed’s sure about that last one since his face is buried in her armpit right now. She appears to be trying to smother him with her body.
“I love you, Abed,” she says. “I love you very, very much.”
“Okay,” Abed says.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total time: Too long
• 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon coriander
• 3/4 teaspoon cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons flour
• oil for frying (canola or vegetable)
• A better attitude
Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add flour and combine well.
Medium bowl, medium! Look at that, now the spices are everywhere. Never mind, clean it up later.
Mash chickpeas, making sure to mix ingredients together. You can also combine ingredients in a food processor. You want the result to be a thick paste.
A thick paste, Abed, not gruel. Does that look thick to you?
Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Slightly flatten.
No, like ping pong balls, not strange, misshapen Lincoln Logs.
Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (2-5 minutes).
Golden brown, mind. Don’t get distracted. I’m not made of falafel mix.
Serve falafel by itself, or with hot pita bread with veggies, hummus, or tahini sauce.
That’s…Well, that’s alright. That looks good. Good job. Alright, let’s do it again.
Inspector Spacetime: Paradox of the Conundrum (an excerpt)
CONSTABLE REGGIE (CONT’D)
It’s madness, Inspector! The Blorgons can’t be back! We saw them die in the Omega Vortex! They were sucked into the center of the most powerful white hole in every universe at every point in all of time and then we chucked all of their children in after them! Then we went back in time and made sure they were never created! The Blorgons are gone!
Not all of them, I’m afraid.
INSERT: THE VORTEXTER
As it begins to BEEP.
BACK TO SCENE
The Inspector froggles the vortexer with his chronoray. The vortexer sparks and smokes.
Constable Reggie runs to the door and presses himself against it as the Blorgon’s FIRE BLASTERS at it. The door shakes.
I can’t hold it, Inspector!
The walls begin to shake (note to prop department: This is on purpose, for once). Delicate sciencey looking things are BREAKING with LOUD NOISES. We hear SCREAMING in the outside hallway.
CONSTABLE REGGIE (CONT’D)
THE INSPECTOR’S POV
The broken vortexer. Suddenly, LUNDA’s face appears above it, ghostlike, looking just as she did when we last saw her in AGE OF THE TIME ERA.
The Quiet has risen, Doctor. The bell has rung. Every weapon, every tool, every clever little boy and girl you’ve ever picked up have failed you.
BACK TO SCENE
We see the room shaking, dust falling to the ground. Constable Reggie is bracing himself against the door with all his might. The cracks on the ceiling are widening. An ALARM GOES OFF and wails in the background. As the Inspector surveys the damages,
LUNDA (CONT’D) (Off Screen)
You are alone, Inspector. Here, at the center of your precious Kayaclasch, a barren wasteland you once called home.
CONSTABLE REGGIE’S POV
The metal door is turning red with heat.
BACK TO SCENE
Do something, Inspector!
As we slowly close in on the Inspector’s face, his eyes downcast, his face somber:
LUNDA (Off Screen)
You will die here, Inspector. You will die alongside your precious Darsit and your pathetic Associate just as you left me to die at the hands of the Clockmaker so many eons ago. You’ve run so far in your life, but not even you could outrun this. You will die. The only question now is how.
The Inspector looks up, new determination in his eyes.
He flings the broken vortexer.
INSERT: THE VORTEXER
As it breaks against the wall.
BACK TO SCENE
The Inspector pulls out the electronic hammer from his pocket and aims it at the center console as:
The is only one question, Lunda, something that with all your intellect you have never learned to ask. That question is when. And the answer?
The console fizzes to life, every light turning on.
Constable Reggie gapes at the Inspector.
The Inspector throws the largest lever.
Electricity shoots out of the top of the console as the room shakes wildly, all of the remaining delicate sciencey things BREAKING WITH A COOL NOISE. The lights in the Dorsit flicker on.
Constable Reggie and the Inspector sprint into the Dorsit. As the door closes behind them, the Blorgons melt their way into the room.
“I don’t know, Abed,” Troy said. “It sounds pretty thinky.”
“Exactly.” He put the DVD in the tray. “Once we watch this, we can get all kinds of references. The Simpsons. The Animaniacs.” He paused. “That’s it. This is a kind of obscure film.”
“I do like The Simpsons.” Troy hopped into his armchair. “Homer just gets me.”
“We’re adults now with an apartment, a diploma that is recognized in a majority of the states, and a Batman collection that would make the Joker jealous.”
“You know I thought we didn’t need the Batman coat hangers,” Troy said. “I thought wrong.”
“It’s time we put away childish, awesome things, and moved onto adult movies they show at film festivals and have awards framed by leaves in the trailer.”
Troy rubbed his hands together and grinned. “Fire up the class, then, fellow adult. Let’s educate ourselves.”
The movie opened on a white expanse of snow and sky. A dark figure on the horizon began to walk. In the background, a piano aria rose. The figure got closer and closer as the music got louder. After two minutes in one continuous shot, the man reached the foreground. He stopped, looked off to the side, then walked away. The screen went black.
Abed hit pause on the remote. “Kickpuncher 3?”
Troy pulled out DVD case. “‘He punches ass’?”
Rolled a One
So close. That was that what Abed thought as he fell to the ground, his hand clutching at the gunshot wound. Most depictions of gunshots on TV are not accurate. They are, in fact, much more painful than Jack Bauer had led him to believe.
He was so close to getting back to the original timeline.
Troy lay on the ground next to him. His eye were blank, his face still. In between them, the fizzling dimension hopped gently sparked and died.
He should have caught that die.
“Oh my God!” Jeff shouted. “You shot them! You straight up just shot them!”
Britta stared down at them in horror, the gun still smoking in her hands. “Things got so dark!”
“Drugs are so bad!”
Britta won’t lift her head up from the table. He’s sure she’s fine, nobody has ever overdosed on marijuana no matter what the PSAs say (and Abed should know, Abed has watched them all, and he thinks the popularity of Reefer Madness is condemning a lot of much funnier hysterical movies featuring the overzealous handwringing of the moral guardians to obscurity, though you’ll never here that side of the story) so Britta is just keeping her head down because she wants to or because she’s asleep or maybe because she’s been knocked out (has she been? Should Abed get the Batsuit out? This is the greatest idea he has ever had) so Abed picks up the remote and jabs at her side until she raises her head which she just did so apparently she’s fine.
“Abed! Pot is supposed to make you mellow.”
“People react to drugs in different ways. You at you. Or think about High School Confidential. Or Freaks and Geeks. Or Less than Zero. Or Requiem for a Dream. Except those last two aren’t about marijuana so much. It’s an imperfect comparison. I haven’t seen enough stoner comedies. That’s an entire genre I’ve yet to fully explore. Troy and I were going to have a movie marathon last weekend, but we decided to watch all seven series of Digimon. Have you seen them?”
“Good, I’ll tell you about them.”
Britta puts her head back down on the table, but she’s awake so that means she’s listening and she hasn’t told him to stop talking yet so Abed will just keep going because normally Britta stops him after the first thirty minutes and Abed isn’t going to miss an opportunity like this.
“I am never giving you a joint again,” she says, but in that sort of joking way that people have where they say something but they don’t mean it but it’s not just sarcasm (there are too many emotions. If Abed had his way, he’d streamline them to about five). But he doesn’t stop to think about it too hard, he’ll do that later, because Britta’s never seen Digimon and Abed is about to fix that with his words.
From: Troy Barnes [email@example.com]
To: Abed Nadir [firstname.lastname@example.org]
quote from the review: “its like this show actively punishes you for knowing things”
WE’RE WATCHING THIS
WE’RE WATCHING THIS A HUNDRED TIMES
It’s Okay to Watch a Show Called “Cougar Town”
Skinny jeans are fine as long as you don’t put anything in your pocket. Abed fishes out the coins that have been digging into his upper thigh while his father finishes up dinner in the kitchen. Three quarters, a nickels, three pennies. He tucks the silver coins in between the couch cushions and rolls the pennies between his fingers. His dad keeps a vase on the bookshelf.
The coin lands perfectly inside with a little clink just as his father walks back into the room. “Penny can,” Abed says because he can’t resist.
His father stares impassively at him. “Cougar Town?”
“Penny vase would be more accurate.” Then implications of his dad’s question sinks in. “You watched the DVDs.”
His dad snorts and turns back to the kitchen. “Modern Family is better.”
“They’re coasting,” Abed shouts back.
His dad watched the DVDs. It’s not quite a swelling music, afterschool special feel, but it’s not bad at all.
We Were Promised Five More Seasons
“Let’s Just Admit It: The Cape Is Canceled, Final Episode To Stream Online”
NBC hasn’t officially announced that The Cape is canceled, but a notice on their official site should give a hint about the show’s future.
Remember the fact that they ordered ten episodes, with the tenth still unscheduled?
Well, NBC has now posted this:
“Flash: The creators of The Cape are prepping an exclusive episode just for online fans! Keep watching this site in the days ahead to see a full-length special episode.”
The episode, which we imagine is called “Endgame” and hopefully provides an actual, satisfying conclusion to the series, is going online only. Which means we probably won’t see it on NBC. Maybe it’ll be televised during a Syfy marathon or something? And hopefully we’ll get a DVD sometime.
It doesn’t hurt as much as Firefly did.
It hurts more.
No. That’s a lie.
But it still really, really hurt.
The Sound of Wings
Abed’s bowtie is too tight. His father had sighed when he’d seen it (“Neon green is not appropriate for funerals”), but it looked like the one that the Fourth Inspector wore. Troy bought it for him. Annie bought the rest of Abed’s suit. She’s also the one who cleaned the apartment before his dad came over, made the casserole for the gathering afterwards, and bought Abed Buffy the Vampire Slayer season five DVDs.
In retrospect, it was a really, really good idea asking her to move in. Batman DVD aside.
This part of the cemetery is quiet, far away the ceremony just wrapping up on the other side, empty except for a pale woman in black. She smiles when she sees him. “Nice bowtie.”
“I know you’re not real,” he says. She’s quiet as he walks towards her. “Occasional breaks with traditional views of reality aside, I’m not crazy. You’re just a way I can visualize what is happening.”
“Does that make this any less meaningful?” Death asks.
Abed cocks his head. “I don’t think so. I didn’t really travel to the North Pole, but I still learned the meaning of Christmas. Just because you are the intellectual property of Vertigo doesn’t mean I can’t appropriate you.”
When she smiles, even Abed can understand what he means. Neil Gaiman made a good character. “Is there anything you want to ask me?”
“There’s nothing you can tell me that I don’t know.”
“Did it hurt?”
“Not at all.”
“Is she happy?”
“Very much so.”
“Did she know that I loved her?”
“She always did.”
“Are you lying?”
“Not at all.”
Abed looks at the grave in front of him. Shelly Burns, died at age 75. That’s better than his mother got.
“She lived what anyone gets. She got a lifetime. No more. No less.” He knows. He read that her say that to Bernie, the ancient lawyer, in Sandman #43. “I can stay with you until you’re ready to go back. Your friends can take it from there.”
“Cool.” It’s all in his head, but Abed swears he can hear the sound of wings.
“Cool, cool, cool,” Death replies.
"K.I.T.T. vs K.A.R.R.”
“If you would stop coddling him, he’d be talking by now!”
“He is not just my son, Vijay. You don’t get to pass him off because he’s not exactly to your liking.”
“Pass him off? Who’s passing him off? I’m the only one trying to help him! Do you think he’s going to be able to live in the world when he’s like this? What kind of living can he make? Who wants to buy falafel from…that.”
“He’s a child. He’ll change.”
“It’s easy for you to say. You left! I’m the one who—”
“Abed! Abed, sweetie, did we wake you up?”
“Go back to bed.”
“No, no, it’s alright.”
“Come on, Abed. Let’s watch a little TV then you go right back to bed.”
“Knight Rider is on.”
“Oh, for that, he speaks!”
“Shut up, Vijay. Be glad when he does.”
Inside a clear envelope inside a manila file folder inside a cardboard box underneath Abed’s bed is a glossy, black and white picture of boyish man, smiling at the camera. It’s old. He’s got a lot more hair and an optimism about him. He looks like the kind of man who could take on the world. Looking at him, you can see why he’s the center of a cult. He has that kind of glow. The inscription reads as follows:
Abed—I know. I miss it too. But I am legally compelled to tell you that a suicide pact is probably a really, really bad idea.
Fox would probably still say no.
You can’t stop the signal. Joss Whedon.
She Humbles Him
After Troy, Shirley is his favorite. Abed knows better than to tell anyone that. People don’t like rankings, he’s found out. He’s learning.
The Fourth Wall
I was a thousand words in before the thought occurred to me. “Hey, Mom,” I said, without stopping typing.
“Hmm?” she hmmed from the couch about a minute later. I’d made the mistake of sending her a one hundred thousand word Sherlock fic. She’d be deaf and blind to the world until she finished.
“I just need to ask one quick thing.”
With considerable effort, she dragged herself out of the story. “What?”
“You know that Yuletide fic I’m working on?”
“I decided to do Community instead. ’32 Short Fics About Abed Nadir’. Like that movie from the 90s.”
“My, aren’t we feeling pretentious this week.”
“Thirty two seems like a lot.”
“I probably won’t do that many.”
“I just want to know, in your best judgment, can I go too meta?”
“It’s a character study about Abed?”
“Then I don’t think ‘too meta’ is possible.”
“Okay. But what if I’m writing about me writing the fic?”
She paused. “Okay. That’s too meta.”
“Well,” I said as I typed Well, I said, “that’s too goddamn bad.”
Fiction has to make sense. That’s why he’s always preferred it to reality. The narrative conventions that become so predictable and familiar aren’t anywhere to be found outside of television. There are guns that don’t go off all the time. Cliffhangers never get resolution in a timely manner. Relationships that should happen peter out and relationships that shouldn’t last way too long. Actually, that last one does happen on television. But the one thing that fiction beats real life hands down in is endings. Real life is never satisfactorily conclusive.
For example, if his life was a TV show, the ideal ending point would be the graduation date. Any lingering after that would just signal an inevitable decline in quality that would just ultimately disappoint everyone. So the fact that four months after they’ve all graduated, Troy, Britta, and Annie were sitting next to him in costume at the midnight premiere of Cape Cougar Town: Justice Flies should be a sign that it’s all downhill from here.
He’ll tell them that soon. Maybe after they all go to The Avengers 3
Genre, Take Two
By the end of the night, Britta and Troy passed out in the blanket fort, Annie retired to her bedroom, Shirley headed home hours ago, and Pierce locked himself in the Dreamatorium. And instead of leaving, Jeff sat in Troy’s armchair and shared a beer with Abed.
“Don’t Andre me,” Jeff warned.
“Can’t. I don’t have the cardigan.”
They watched Robot Chicken on Adult Swim. Abed commented on the references. Jeff snarked. Abed commented on the snarking. Jeff snarked. The usual. The episode ended and Jeff stood, all six feet of him going up and up. “Well, that wasn’t unpleasant.”
“Yeah.” A commercial played for Joss Whedon’s new show. Abed refused to get excited. “You know, before the study group, I thought I was in an independent film.”
“I’m sure you did.”
“I figured it would either end in cancer, abortion, war, or the Holocaust. But now I’ve met you guys, and I don’t think I’m Sundance film anymore. I think this is a sitcom.”
“If we were a sitcom, wouldn’t we have nicer sets?”
“I think we’re on NBC. We’re pretty quirky.”
“So thanks,” Abed said. “If you hadn’t been a manipulative liar to get into Britta’s pants, we’d all be much worse off. Sitcom characters on networks are way happier than indie characters at film festivals.”
Jeff really was. He had that Heart of Gold after all.
The next episode started. Jeff sat back down in the chair. “We’re watching a real movie at some point. One for adults.”
“They’re overrated.” Abed stared at Jeff. "This feels like a moment."
"But it feels like one."
"Your life is not an afterschool special, Abed."
No, it was a sitcom. It was like Jeff wasn't even listening. But Abed sat back in his chair. "It feels nice then."
Jeff didn't say anything for a minute. Then: "Can you get me another beer?"