In the weirdly wonderful show that is “Community,” the world was gifted with the enigma that is Abed Nadir. The eccentric community college film student Nadir always grounds his cast of friends with his televisual references, and even contributed to the unofficial motto of the show’s dedicated fans: “six seasons and a movie.”
“Community” is an oddball amongst the ranks of other workplace sitcoms — a favorite genre of mine. The show features an unlikely group of Greendale Community College students who join together to form a study group. Of course, that does not begin to touch on the craziness that ensues as the show progresses.
The show is known for bending genres, paying tribute to great television and movie styles with episodes that pay homage to them and portraying its characters as a perfect mix of complex and hilariously shallow.
Nadir is a student at Greendale taking classes so he can later take over his dad’s falafel restaurant, but his true passion is filmmaking. This is a clear point of contention between the two, but after watching one of Nadir’s short films, his dad comes around to support his passion.
Throughout the show, Nadir is always trying to break the fourth wall of his life. At times, the camera is actually in his hand — like in the season two episode “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking,” where Nadir uses Pierce Hawthorne’s near-death experience as the basis of a documentary.
As an aspiring filmmaker, Nadir attempted to capture the “show” that played out in front of him with the study group. He also refers to the “plot” of life and falls back on various television personas and tropes within his own life.
From the first few episodes, I recognized Nadir as a Gen Z kid at heart — or Gen Z-ers are just copying Nadir, since “Community” ran from 2009-2015. Nadir grew up with an overload of television and pop culture similar to Gen Z, who are growing up during the age of the internet and social media.
I also feel as if Nadir would enjoy being a part of the TikTok community due to the ongoing trend of acting like the “main character” in your own life. He would definitely get along with us Gen Z kids making main character playlists and figuring out what archetypes our friend groups fit into.
Many times, Nadir could only see life through the lens of movies, shows and characters, so it felt most natural to him to fall back on these childhood tropes. He embodied so many characters, like Han Solo, and once referenced the situation he and his friends were in as a bottle episode — which he isn’t a fan of. He fell into these artificial realities for comfort in a world filled with feelings and emotions that he never really understood.
Nadir’s inability to truly comprehend his friends’ feelings and emotions relates to a growing trend of Gen Z teenagers not fully being present in their emotions. In many instances when young people talk about trauma on social media, they use dark humor and deflection to cope with difficult issues. Abed’s overreliance on different characters once even descended into a stop-motion animated world after receiving sad news.
“Community” would not be the show everyone loves without all its amazing characters, especially Nadir, who served as a pillar to the show. He may not have understood the feelings of his friends, but he was always there as a good friend to everyone. I think Gen Z would be honored to have Abed Nadir as part of their bizarre culture of mixing pop culture with everyday life.