TV: A Community Where You Belong

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in TV

I assumed that Community would never make it. I wondered why Joel McHale would take a character role, being as great as he already was on The Soup. I remembered the ill-fated shows NBC had previously tried to place with the big boys in the Thursday night line-up. Come to think of it, I don’t remember those. I guess that proves my point.

But like all those sad sitcoms of yore, I gave it one deciding view. I was impressed — and I’ve only been increasingly impressed with each episode since. As cliché or absurd as it may be to call 30 minutes of television revolutionary, I just can’t help myself. Community deserves it.

Community goes where no show has gone before and where many movies have failed. To produce one quality parody takes incredible writing. To produce a quality parody every week takes incredible thinking.

So many satires fall short. Oftentimes more painful than enjoyable, a full-length feature film will merely imitate that which it is trying to mock. The only differences are usually uglier people and poop jokes. I’ve seen Dance Flick. Okay, fine, and the Scary Movies. I regret all eight of those hours. Community is no imitation. Instead, Community takes on one genre after another. One week it’s zombies, the next week it’s Lost, a John Hughes film, Mean Girls, then Star Trek.

The real strength in Community is its characters. Each serves as a lovable hyperbole — the arrogant ex-lawyer, the leather jacket-wearing political chick, the naïve preppy freshman, old Chevy Chase, the Christian black woman, the delightfully ignorant jock, and the socially inept geek whose occasional television trivia commentary keeps the show just self- aware enough to get away with it.

Each episode is its own. There’s very little story that carries over from one episode to the next — and that’s why Community will last. It can’t be ruined by plot when there’s a new plot each week. And though I’ve often thought these writers have to eventually run out of ideas, the series only seems to be getting stronger.

While this season of 30 Rock seems less sharp and The Office scrambles for fresh ideas, Community is becoming the King of Thursday night. This week’s episode did not disappoint. Each character is so strong, their dialog so sharp, and their antics so unpredictable, that watching Jeff, Britta, Shirley, Abed, Troy, Annie and Pierce stuck in a study room together searching for a purple pen was the highlight of my day.

And at the risk of spoiling an ending, I never saw the monkey coming.

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