Last December, I was mystified at the uproar over NBC’s decision to put their show Community on hiatus to make room for the return of 30 Rock. As a huge fan of 30 Rock, I missed my weekly dose of Liz Lemon and all the crazy that follows in her wake, and as I had never seen Community, I didn’t understand why its hiatus caused twitter to explode. I began to understand, when in sharing my joy over 30 Rock’s return, several of my friends threatened to disown me. Disheartening, yes, but these are people whose opinions I trust, and their impassioned loyalty to a television show convinced me that I may be missing something special. Therefore, over the past month I have delved into the world of Community, and after emerging on the other side, I’m proud to have such smart friends in my life.
Community is not only the best comedy on television at the moment, it may be the best comedy I’ve ever seen period. Quite the accomplishment in a world that already has Arrested Development, Better Off Ted, and Summer Heights High. For the uninitiated, Community follows a group of students at Greendale Community Collage as they try to navigate their way to a degree at what has got to be the most dysfunctional educational institution in existence. Campus wide paintball wars, zombie outbreaks, space missions, and animation interludes are commonplace in the world of Community, and if that sounds preposterous, believe me when I say Community pulls it off in the most spectacular fashion. The writing is uniformly strong, and contains some of the most brilliant quips, deadpan deliveries, and hysterical exchanges ever heard on TV. Alongside a constant stream of pop culture references and self-referential nods, Community’s humour is layers deep, and therefore multiple viewings are almost required to catch every genius moment. More importantly, Community is truly an ensemble show, populated by oddball, yet universal characters, who are fully developed and three dimensional, and make you care about them, even when their actions are more than questionable. The cast is across the board outstanding, including familiar faces Chevy Chase and Ken Jeong, the brilliant tag team of Donald Glover and Danny Pudi, a trio of hilarious women comprised of Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown, and all grounded by the incredible Joel McHale, who somehow manages to be both the straight man to the others’ lunacy, while simultaneously being the craziest one of them all. Seriously, someone get this man an Emmy.
For those who have yet to discover the treasure trove of laughs that is Community’s gift to TV, I’m recommending three episodes to give you a taste of what Community has to offer. Although “Modern Warfare” in season one is often quite rightly put at the top of ‘best of’ lists, I would suggest checking out “Physical Education” as the perfect example of how Community finds the funny in the most unlikely of places. In both quality and quantity of laughs, “Physical Education” knocks it out of the park. In season two, look to “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” to see not only how daring and boundary pushing Community is willing to be, but also how masterfully it pulls it off. Finally, in season three, check out “Remedial Chaos Theory”, which demonstrates the sheer strength and quality of the writing, as seven different timelines occur, each intersecting and engaging all seven characters, all while revealing both plot and character development in the seemingly impossible time frame of only 22 minutes. It is hilarious and poignant, grounded and manic, and a prime example of why Community is the best comedy around.
After devouring all 59 episodes that have aired to date, I was left with the usual feeling of wanting more after a good TV show comes to an end. I now understand the uproar last December, and I have joined the Community rallying call of ‘Six seasons and a movie!” Thankfully, NBC has seen the light, and on Tuesday they announced that Community will be returning on March 15th in its usual time slot to finish its third season. Until then, I can only say thank you to the Community team for the past month of laughter, and I will be ready and waiting on March 15th to see what the Greendale gang gets up to next.