I’ve only recently started watching Community. My wife and I gave it a shot after it was recommended to us by a friend, and have plowed through the first four seasons in short order. I regret not getting to know the Greendale gang sooner, but at least catching up provides us with ample opportunities for sedentary evenings of dinner on the couch and binge watching.
Troy and Abed’s relationship is my favorite character on the show, and as much as I’d like to talk about them, I will be focusing on everyone’s favorite pseudo-lawyer, Jeff Winger.
From the moment we meet Winger, he is arrogant and semi-unlikeable. He charms and manipulates people and situations to his advantage. Being a sitcom, we are also quickly acquainted with his more human attributes and see through his callous apathy. It actually didn’t occur to me that Jeff Winger was a snowflake at first. I just thought he was an asshole in that overly confident alpha-male kind of way.
In an episode late in the first season, Jeff enrolls in a pottery class only to find that he isn’t very good at it. Compounding this is another student in the class who is pretty much Jeff’s superior in every way. Winger simply can’t handle this, and launches into a scheme to ‘expose’ his new rival as a pottery class ringer, enrolling in entry level classes to boost his ego.
This is when we are treated to a flashback of a young Jeffery Winger being told by his mother that he is special and unique and is the best at everything ever. And that’s when it hit me – holy shit, Jeff Winger is a snowflake.
Jeff is a pristine example of what happens to children who are told they are better than everyone else. They do things like assume the rules do not apply to them and cheat their way into becoming a lawyer. Okay, so maybe that’s not a very realistic example, but it demonstrates his disregard for the conventions of society when they work against him.
Enrolling in a second rate community college instead of a university is a way to maintain his feelings of superiority. He may no longer be a lawyer, but he can pick an academic institution where he can continue to feel like the smartest person in the room and be a ‘big fish’ in a community college sized pond.
He is often shown as unhappy and disgruntled with his current circumstances. His mother (presumably) stopped reassuring him of his limitless value once he reached adulthood. He was able to keep this momentum going by having an impressive career, a nice apartment (complete with platinum faucets), expensive clothes, and a fancy car (even if no self-respecting man would drive that model Lexus). These things made him feel special. Once they were gone he could only evaluate himself based on his own merits, leaving him confused and upset.
To prevent any further damage to his self-esteem, Jeff quickly armors himself in cynicism and an attitude of detached superiority. If he is unable to regain his inflated sense of worth, he can at least belittle others in an effort to approximate this.
Ask yourself this – do you really want your kids to be like Jeff Winger? Of course you don’t, so do your part by helping them be realistic instead of growing to believe that the sun rises just for them each morning.