“Six seasons and a movie!”Danny Pudi, Community
Airs: NBC/Yahoo Screen | Air Dates: 2009-2015 | Number of Seasons: 6
Community follows the lives of six community college students as they all attempt to get a degree while learning quite a bit about themselves. The show starts out with Jeff Winger, a lawyer who finds himself at Greendale Community College because he faked his bachelor’s degree, as he meets Britta Perry. After deciding that he wants to get close to her, he starts a study group for their Spanish class with just the two of them. But, when Jeff finds out that Britta has invited four other classmates to join the group, Jeff must figure out how to run the study group. As the seasons progress, Community demonstrates the unlikely friendships that can form shared experiences and a twist of fate.
I spent most of the beginning of this year (2022) watching sitcoms and of all of them, Community was the most intriguing. Each of the characters have a distinct (albeit maybe a bit stereotypical) personality with their own distinct sense of humor. With the characters being written as solidly as they are, the actors had quite a short learning curve and it shows. Within the first few episodes, it’s obvious to the audience that the casting was done really well. In order to allow the audience to fall in love with the characters and get their footing on what the show really is, the first few episodes pair off Jeff with the rest of the characters in order to showcase what makes the characters great. Personally, I think most of the younger characters were given plenty of room to shine, but the older characters (i.e Shirley and Pierce) don’t really get the chance to shine outside of the group. Of everyone on the show, Danny Pudi as Abed is the heart of the show and his relationship with Donald Glover’s Troy was often what got the most laughs out of me.
The casting was obviously well done and without the solid acting, the show wouldn’t have really ever been able to get off the ground. But, when I think of this show, I think of the solid writing (except for season four; we don’t talk about season four). Dan Harmon is a genius and while he may be notoriously hard to work with, the show manages to hold its footing despite several behind the scenes issues. Not only is it funny, but it exists beyond the comedy plane. It exists on a level that allows the character’s imaginations to run free (shown especially through Abed’s character). Some of the best episodes are the ones that exist on a multi-genre plane that doesn’t feel forced. The dialogue – even in non-tributary episodes – is extremely meta which allows the audience to suspend their disbelief and truly enjoy the wacky episodes.
What ultimately disappoints me the most about this show is the fact that after season three, the show feels like it gave up. What made the show wonderful and enjoyable were the bonds that formed between the unlikely characters. As I mentioned earlier, Troy and Abed’s friendship (which eventually includes Annie) were the most important parts of the show because it played off of the actors’ natural chemistry. When Donald Glover, Chevy Chase and Yevette Nicole Brown leave the show, the show ultimately dies because the characters that are leftover have a strange chemistry. Jeff, Britta and Annie’s characters have the most chemistry with each other because of the subtle love triangle that has plagued the entirety of the show. Abed’s character has always been able to play off of the other characters and his friendship with Annie and relationship with Rachel are fun to watch but ultimately, the loss of Troy is very much felt.
I almost wish they had let Community die with season three but when I saw the finale, I decided that I enjoyed the antics that led up to this moment even if everything didn’t pack a punch. The last episode is heartfelt and you can tell that the cast genuinely feels the loss of this show and the relationships on it. The beautiful part of this show is it excels at what it tries to do. I often find that I enjoy the self-referential, meta quips that Abed makes and the risks that the show takes in order to garner a laugh out of the audience. I do want to reference my two favorite episodes because the writing had me captivated: Remedial Chaos Theory (S3E4) and Epidemiology (S2E6). Overall, this is a fun show for those who like a show that pushes the boundaries and teaches you a thing or two about embracing your imagination.