Duels, or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They’re useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.
This Week? Jess Day and Abed Nadir play Words With Friends
Things will heat up quickly with these two wordsmiths in the joint. Abed tries to use “cool” more than once. Repeatedly. But Jess doesn’t stop him, because rules give her blinding optical migraines and she literally can’t see three feet in front of herself. Luckily, Zynga, maker of Words with Friends or ‘Friends — as it’s known by those who are streets ahead — does care a lot about rules. “CoolCoolCool” is denied. Word.
Abed insists they are playing “Words with Frenemies.” He won’t stop jutting his chin from side to side and saying “I didn’t come here to make friends.” He turns the nearby coat closet into the “confessional” and starts talking smack to the “camera.” Jess spells everything in the voice of an old timey newscaster. Then she screams at Abed “I’m gonna split you like a log!” Point: Jess
Jess covers Abed with a blanket and makes him eat a cupcake even though he just wants some chicken fingers because “they’re the only good things in the cafeteria.” Abed remarks that their game playing is evolving into somewhat of a bottle episode, but also kind of like the ending of Face/Off (1997). Jess responds that she would not have lasted two seconds in the court of the Sun King. She thinks about that all the time. Abed does not flinch at this seemingly senseless statement and, instead, asks Jess if she happens to have a mask that looks exactly like her face. Point: Abed
Sensing tension, Jess tries to communicate with Abed using her feelings stick, which he mistakes for a blogon from his favorite show, Inspector Spacetime. The ‘Friends game is briefly interrupted while something like this occurs. Jess misunderstands Abed’s outburst as an attempt to rush her turn. So, for no discernable reason, she puts on a nearby hat and then proclaims that she “likes moving slow! She likes being weird, and taking her time!”
This frightens Abed who hides in the confessional/coat closet. Jess asks him where he is. Abed replies that, “It’s not where he is, but when he is.” This response boggles Jess. Not to be outdone, Jess counters with some incomprehensible behavior of her own, such as what is displayed here. The Scrabble Words with Friends or ‘Friends game gets put back on track by an irritated Nick Miller and Jeff Wringer, who then both leave immediately to go pretend they have something better to do. Point: Theo Huxtable (at Abed’s insistence)
ZZ-top (Yes, they played the hyphen.)
The game really heats up in the final round. Abed boasts that he is like E.T., Edward Scissorhands, and Marty McFly, combined. Jess counters that he’s more like “aging ballerina, child chess prodigy, old magician” crazy. They make their last moves and use up all the letters. Then, they finally realize — due to their incredibly colorful imaginations and free spirits — they have been unwittingly playing this entire game on an air conditioner remote that Jess found on the street the other day. Winner: No one
Both agree never to play Words with Friends again. Anyway, they prefer other pastimes like making documentaries, buying people roller skates, or hanging out with their study group and roommates. They just thought Words with Friends would be good for them because it’s a game for people who are sometimes better alone than in groups — you know, people with lots of indie cred. They thought they could be part of the Words with Friends craze because sometimes both Abed and Jess are simply too wacky and unrelatable for others. Ironically, and hear this on every level, that is exactly what’s keeping them from being part of ‘Friends.
Laura Jayne Martin lives and writes in New York City. She is not available for children’s birthday parties.