Monday, April 2, 2012

Community (2009- ): Mormon TV Review and Autism Awareness

NBC's Community is one of the most under rated shows on NBC right now.  It is based on a group of students who form a study group at a local community college.  The study group comprises students from all walks of life and backgrounds, but they mesh very well.  It has a strong ensemble cast with each one able to carry an episode story on their own.  Ever since the first season Community has seen declining rating, but the show is still making great TV.  I has already been picked up for syndication by Comedy Central. 

   Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  So in honor of this day I'd like to focus my review on one character.  Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) seems to be a huge fan favorite.  Although it hasn't been made official, many believe Abed has Asperger's Syndrome.  Abed's character has difficulty in showing empathy with the other members of the study group and his love of cinema and television has caused people to make this assumption.   Asperger's is a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder and can be characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

   Regardless if these things Abed becomes a sort of moral center for the show.  Many of the characters go to him for advice and council because he is can make logical decisions without appearing emotionally invested.  For that same reason character seem to write him off as naive, (and he sometimes is) but find out in the end he was right all along.  He is honest, kind and although not always visible has very deep feelings (Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas).  

   Abed reveals that he did not have many friends in school, but upon coming to college finds a Best Friend in Troy Barnes (Donald Glover).  During the first and second season it was so enjoyable to watch this friendship evolve.  The chemistry between the two is so remarkable the duo is almost exclusively used in the cold endings of each episode.

   I am curious about everyone else, but I came to the realization why I was such a fan of Abed last season.  He reminds me of my son Garren!  Last year my son Garren was educationally diagnosed to be on the Autistic Spectrum, particularly with behaviours indicating Asperger's.  We have not been very public about it, Garren doesn't even know.  It was really hard for us at first to hear it, but we are very fortunate.  We have friends with children on the spectrum to varying degrees, a few with cases that are very severe.  I felt today was a good day to make it known.
   Garren is very high functioning.  To spend 5 minutes with him, you wouldn't think twice about it.  An hour and you would notice something is a bit off.  The whole day and it would be pretty evident.  He loves reading and learning.  He can tell you about every Pokemon and about all the ships in Star Wars.  He can be oblivious to other people's feelings at times, then surprise us when he is moved to tears by an episode of "Phineas and Ferb."  He desperately wants to Choose the Right and takes correction very hard.  He loves to be funny and wants to have friends, and he does! 

   Our school has a wonderful Individual Education Program for him.  He is making great strides, but we still have hard times.  As his Dad, one of my greatest hopes is for him to fit in and feel loves.  "I'll Walk with You" moves me to tears every time I hear it.  He has reached the age where the kids are starting to notice he is a little different, and has caused some kids to avoid him.  Many times, he has no idea, but other times he does.  It is heartbreaking to hear him talk about a boy at school who doesn't want to be his friend any more.

   I love the story of Troy and Abed because Troy is friends with Abed because of his personality, not in spite of it.  In my favorite episode of season 2 (Early 21st Century Romanticism) Troy and Abed are enamoured with the same woman, the Librarian.   After she eventually chooses Troy she reveals that she thinks Abed is weird.  Troy instantly dumps her and rejoins his friend. 

   I can see something like that easily happening to Garren and instantly wanted him to have a friend who would love him that much.  Then I realized he does, his brother Greyson.  They are best friends!  They do everything together.   Just about anything Garren is doing Greyson is right behind him.  I now that is Garren grows up and has hard time, Greyson will be right there with him. 

   When we found out Greyson was going to be a boy baby, my wife shed a few tears.  Not that he was another boy or anything, but that we were hoping for a girl.  Now we would not have it any other way!  I am recalling now giving him his baby blessing.  I felt promoted to speak about his important mission of being a companion to his brother, and to support him in the challenges he would face in life (at that time we had no clue of Garren's condition).  Now it all makes sense and I can see the wisdom of The Lord. He truly is the Troy to our Abed.  

Did you forget this was actually a TV show review?  Obviously me too.  Community is a great show.  The language isn't crude, but exclamatory remarks are made.  There is no overtly sexual content, but characters do have intimate encounters that I tell myself they never go past first base.  Like when my wife makes me watch Doris Day & Rock Hudson movies.   



  1. Wonderful post Grady. It was hard for me to talk about Gavin's delays at first, but I have found that every time I share a post about his progress and what we are going through I am blessed with an opportunity to help someone else through their journey with their children. Thanks for giving children like Garren a voice.

  2. Great post Grady! Both (Grady and Summmer) of your kids are lucky to have such wonderful parents! I am blessed to have you both in my life as well!

    love you all,


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