Community Is Ahead of It’s Time

A Review of the Tv Show: Community


The TV Show Community (2009-2015), has launched the careers of several notable production members. The five most notable being Dan Harmon, who co-created Rick and Morty. The Russo Brothers, who have directed Captain America Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Avengers Infinity War. Justin Lin, who has directed Fast Furious and Star Trek Beyond. Ludwig Goranson who composed the score for the show has done the score for Creed, Black Panther, The Mandalorian, and Tenant, as well as produced several high-profile rappers such as Childish Gambino, Travis Scott, and Chance the Rapper. Finally, Donald Glover who has starred in the Martian, Solo, Directed and written his own TV show (Atlanta), and launched a successful rap career as Childish Gambino.


The show excels at subverting audience expectations, through a colorful cast of characters, its exceptional use of meta jokes, and an incredible sense of fun and excitement. Often poking fun at popular movie and sitcom tropes, Community is jam-packed with homages and references, with everything from war documentaries (Pillows and Blankets), spaghetti westerns (A Fistball of Paintballs), Star Wars (For a Few Paintballs More), war movies (For a Few Paintballs More), action films (Modern Warfare), horror flicks(Epidemiology), crime thrillers(Contemporary American Poultry), and every other genre in between. Even the final episode (Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television) does this, managing to execute the ultimate tribute by referencing itself. While regularly doing this, the series’ masterful handling of its homages ensures that they hardly ever feel forced. This is in no small part due to most of its reference-centric humor being conveyed through the eyes of Abed (Danny Pudi), a character who serves as an encyclopedia of films and film knowledge.


Taking place at Greendale Community College, the show takes advantage of this setting by having a multitude of colorful and fun characters. Alongside Abed is Jeff Winger (Joel Mchale), a former lawyer and the group leader with a penchant for giving eccentric yet bizarrely motivational speeches; and Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), who, while initially a stereotypical jock, ends up embracing his nerdiness thanks to his close friendship with Abed. Rounding out the cast is Britta (Gillian Jacobs), the political anarchist, who often acts hypocritical of her own views; Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase), a rich old man who has been at Greendale for nearly 12 years; Annie (Alison Brie), a stressed overachiever fresh out of high school, and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), a religious former stay-at-home mother and budding entrepreneur. Alongside Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), and Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), the show has no shortage of hilarious moments, as well as more dramatic and heartfelt relationships. Additionally, despite how different the characters may appear on the surface, they all share a common goal of finding their way in the world. This premise is taken one step further in the episode Heroic Origins, in which Abed and the rest of the group discuss their lives before Greendale, and they realize that all of the stories are interconnected, yet another homage to super movies such as Unbreakable.


Finally, the show also has a great sense of adventure and fun, particularly with Abed and Troy. These characters make for some of the show’s best moments from constructing several pillow and blanket forts, to playing a campus-wide game of floor is lava, to doing fake interviews, (resulting in one of the show’s most memorable lines, “Troy and Abed in the Morning.”) The rest of the crew also get a share of the fun, including multiple games of paintball, a massive pillow fight, 8-bit video games, and too many school dances to count. These moments would make anyone reminisce about their childhood, and Community captures a true sense of childhood and nostalgia that very few shows, especially those aimed at adult audiences, can pull off. 


However, despite it’s incredible highs, the show does falter at times, especially with some of the writing and storytelling. Season 4, in particular, is the black sheep of the family, with such atrocious writing and storytelling on account of the temporary loss of director Dan Harmon, that the entire season was retconned and referred to as “The Gas Leak Year”, both by fans and in-show by the characters. While Dan Harmon’s return in Season 5 did bring back some of Community’s top-notch quality, the loss of several major actors including Chevy Chase, Donald Glover, and Yvette Nicole Brown put a damper on the show’s comeback, and Seasons 5 and 6 remain somewhat less satisfying than it’s first three seasons.


Community’s meta-humor, colorful cast of characters, and a great sense of fun allow the show to overcome its flaws, and make it a total blast to watch from start to finish. I would highly recommend this show to anyone. With the social aspects of countless colleges devastated over the past year, Community is a welcome distraction from current events, as well as a reminder of what college communities once were, and hopefully, what they will soon be again.