Britta’s failure to properly evolve as a character in Community’s early episodes was significant enough that other characters on the show started to realize how…well, odd she was. In episode six, “Football, Feminism, and You,” Britta has a hard time connecting with her fellow female classmates, Annie (Allison Brie) and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), because she views the time-honored tradition of visiting the bathroom as a group to be a sinister patriarchal conspiracy.
Earlier this year, Harmon revealed in an interview with EW that that plotline came directly from another writer on the show’s observation about just how much Britta sucked.
“When I said, ‘What about Britta,’ [writer-producer] Hilary Winston said, ‘I don’t like her,’” Harmon said. “Listening to Hilary talk about Britta, which started with like, ‘I wouldn’t trust her if I was a woman. I understand that she means well and that she’s saying the kinds of things that you’re supposed to say as a woman, but that’s what makes me not trust her. I need a confidante behind the scenes, because the truth is, I do want to talk about shoes sometimes and I feel like she might sell me out if I did that — and I wouldn’t go pee with her.’ Stuff like that starts to dimensionalize Britta right away.”
By this point the show’s characters, writing staff, and audience had realized that there was something unlikeable about Britta. This was due to the show’s thin conceptualization of her as a character to begin with. But as we said above, time is usually on a sitcom’s side. Community had many more episodes of its first season order to tackle the issue. What’s interesting about how Community figured Britta out is not how it “fixed her” but rather how it leaned into her existing flaws.
That anecdote about Hilary Winston not trusting Britta turned out to be a feature, not a bug for the character. A lot of Britta’s early traits – her political ideals, defiant attitude, and quick wit – were likely designed to make her appealing to both Jeff and the audience. In reality, they had the opposite effect. So the show just began to lean into those qualities as comedic fodder. Britta retained her same liberal political leanings but the show now highlighted how she had neither the courage or energy to follow through on them. She also quickly became known for accidentally ruining everything around her and snuffing out the joy from her friends’ lives.