The Jeff-Britta-Annie love triangle has been put to bed, so to speak, on NBC's Community. At least for the time being. But actress Alison Brie, who plays Annie, one member of an offbeat community-college study group, still marvels at the intense response the show provoked in some viewers. Brie never dreamed that public opinion would flip-flop after Annie and Jeff (played by Joel McHale) kissed in the season finale. "I thought it was interesting, the difference of the fan reaction from our first kiss in the eighth episode to our kiss in the finale," she says. "After the first time we kissed [in the debate-themed episode], fans embraced it. There were fans online 'shipping' [or 'relationshipping'] for our characters. So when I read the finale, I felt like, 'Oh, people are going to be into this!' " Then came a backlash. Some viewers protested that Jeff Winger belonged with Britta, played by Gillian Jacobs, the girl he had been pursuing off and on since the first episode. Some felt that Annie was too young for Jeff. As Jeff put it, "If anyone found out about it, I would be tarred, feathered and put on one of those websites people check when they're buying a house." So maybe it's best for now, Brie says, that Community goes back to what it does best: making viewers laugh with some of the most absurd comedy on TV. "I feel like we're totally done with those relationships," she guesses. Community airs at 7 p.m. CT Thursdays on NBC.
The cast members have great chemistry. Does it come naturally or are you all just great actors who are concealing hate-filled offscreen relationships?
"It has all come naturally. We really lucked out getting this amazing cast. We really click together and it's always been really easy and just naturally drips over into scripted material. We have maybe a day-and-a-half off a week and a lot of the time we still choose to spend it with each other, which is weird but nice."
What do you most enjoy about your character?
"I think that Annie still has a lot of maturing to do. I enjoy watching Annie kind of go through different stages and meeting different guys and having different fads. She's such a malleable character. Anything Annie tries, she really goes for. She's all gung-ho about anything that she gets involved with."
Do you have much input in what your character says and does?
"As opposed to it being like us coming to the writers and going, 'I have an idea for an episode' or anything like that, what more often happens is that the writers pay attention to who we are and what we're capable of and things that we mention offhandedly that are funny and they incorporate those things in the scripts. Like, last year they came to me and said, 'So-and-so said you had a really funny story about this gay guy you knew.' I told them the story and then it was in the next episode."
Have there been any ad-libbed moments that you're particularly proud of?
"The gravy train leaving the station. From last season, it was a move I did. The line was 'So this gravy train is going to leave the station.' In rehearsal, I did this whole bit where I, like, turned into a train. Our directors are pretty flexible to give us room to add some physical aspects. But the director was like, 'Don't do that.' But it made it in the final episode. I was so excited."
In a Season One episode, Annie didn't understand a Sam-and-Diane reference to Cheers because she's so young. How many of the show's frequent pop-culture references leave you befuddled?
"I get to set and I'll still be finding out what movie we're referencing. Even when I try to Google and find stuff in advance, there are still some that escape me. But the writers are good at sprinkling in a variety of references, some that date back 20 years and some that are current. We're referencing Star Trek and The Godfather, some things that are timeless, and then there are things that are current like Twitter."
This season, we're going to see an Apollo 13 episode, a Halloween zombie episode and a stop-motion animated Christmas episode. Which do you think will be the new classic?
"Our zombie episode was the most fun for me. I had just filmed a little bit for the film Scream 4 and I thought, 'Oh, it would be great if we did some sort of horror movie homage thing.' Then, we did the zombie movie homage. I got to do my own stunts, so get ready for that. But I do have to say, as soon as I found out about our Christmas episode being stop-motion animated, I just got chills."
What do you think of the fact that some of the show's male fans have Alison Brie crushes?
"It's important to remember that these people are falling in love with a character or a persona and to realize that it's just a little bit different. But it's definitely fantastic to have a lot of support and I'm very thankful for it. By the way, there might be a nipple slip in an upcoming episode. Ken Jeong's nipple slip!"