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Acting the Part

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Bad Boy Jeff

Jeff Winger is a jerk. He’s selfish, egotistical, and doesn’t believe in doing things.

But everyone loves him anyway.

Guarascio and Port have revealed that in season 4 Jeff is going to meet his real father finally and along with the premier last Thursday, with the “new” Jeff, it appears that Jeffrey Winger isn’t just anxious to graduate and leave Greendale; Jeff Winger is, indeed, a human being with feelings.

See what I did there?

Underneath Jeff’s snobby, fashion-concerned lawyer persona, past the hardcore, bad boy act, and beneath the flaunted sexual prowess – Jeff isn’t such a bad guy. In fact, if it weren’t for this guy, the Study Group wouldn’t exist; Community wouldn’t exist! So, at the end of the day, we at least owe him that thanks.

Jeff bonds (in his own way, of course) individually and intimately with each character. He forms close ties with the rest of the Study Group, and even with Chang and the Dean, whether he realizes it or not. When he was determined to win everyone a spot in History of Ice Cream, it wasn’t just because he wants to graduate. Without the Study Group, he has very little meaning. No quipping with Britta, no being mothered by Shirley, no parenting Troy, Abed, nor Annie (though maybe less parenting with Annie and more subconscious flirting), and no fearing Pierce – because ultimately, Jeff sees Pierce a possibility for his future self.

See? Pierce is totally shadowing Jeff.

Each of the characters grounds Jeff in a different way, including Chang and the Dean. Even though Jeff adamantly doesn’t believe in doing things, both Crazy Chang and the Dean propel Jeff into fighting for the things he does  believe in: the Study Group. Jeff is highly protective, particularly of Abed, and when Chang (like when he became a dictator and took over Greendale) and the Dean (like with his Hunger Deans) not only stand between Jeff and his goal but also in some form attack the Study Group (because the entire group suffers even if it’s just one character specifically targeted), Jeff does put aside his goal long enough to defend his turf.

Though, he always comes back to himself. Despite blaming it on his overly doting mother and never existent father, Jeff is just shielding his inner, still immature child-self. Which naturally he denies doesn’t exist.

So, as long as anyone is (or possibly is) looking, Jeff is a jerk, and probably when he’s really looking, too. But there’s no escaping that his jerk-ness is more a tool to help him achieve his goals (and ignore others), an act.

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4 Comments

  1. First and foremost, the part of Jeff is played by the guy who hosts “The Soup,” which makes sense that he might play a “jerk-y” character in this show series. The real guy’s name is Joel McHale, and I didn’t even know he was in another TV show! But, the writers/creators did an excellent job on choosing him to play the jerk, because he definitely shows that side on “The Soup.”

    • ajthacker says:

      Yeah, I read an interview with Joel McHale, and in real life, he seems like a pretty nice guy. But in both his shows, he is pretty jerky.. Perhaps evidence of typecasting?

  2. […] I have taken critical looks at Jeff and Britta. When I think of Community, these two characters come to mind first, and in the pilot, […]

  3. Alexander Fitchett says:

    I agree with ajthacker that Joel McHale has been successfully type casted! Following both of these employments, McHale was featured as the sarcastic jerk in Seth MacFarlane’s recent movie Ted. It seems to me that reoccurring actors that are primarily in television find themselves reoccurring certain characters rather often, as is true within movies sometimes.

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