A Post Just For Community

Considering how much I love “Community” [spoiler alert: it’s a LOT] I’m kind of surprised I haven’t written about it all that much. I’m not sure I can explain why, except that I know that very few people watch it, and that even fewer appreciate it on the same level I do. 

You see, “Community” appeals to me on a number of levels. Within the show itself, I relate to different aspects of different characters. Most strongly I relate to Jeff Winger, a vain, self-absorbed, emotionally-distant man who is very bright but even more lazy, preferring to charm or cheat than work. But, at the same time, he secretly cares about people and is only half as jaded as he pretends. In a different way, I relate to Abed, a nerdy guy somewhere on the Autism Spectrum who is awkward and overly invested in television. I appreciate his many, many references to assorted tropes and trivia, and understand the vast majority of them (which is more than I can say for most people, I believe). I can also see my fear of exclusion in Pierce, my judgmental nature in Shirley, and a fear of failure in Annie. How I reconcile that last with my association with Jeff is beyond me. 
On a more meta level, I appreciate parody/homage. Scratch that, I love it. Crave it. And that has become what “Community” is famous for. A claymation episode, an Apollo 13 episode, a Western, an Action Flick, a Zombie Movie, a Bottle Episode, a Conspiracy Thriller – all of these and so many more have been done. I think it’s ambitious, and super impressive because these episodes are more than just fan-fiction or wish-fulfillment. They reveal things about the characters we might not find under “normal” circumstances. They put our characters in outrageous positions, push them to strange places, and allow us to see the results. What we get is a shockingly character-driven show, that highlights each of the group in turn. We may get paintball in a post-apocalyptic world, but we also get to see why everyone is playing – for family, for fun, to prove something to themselves or to others. We get moving speeches, beautiful relationships, dysfunctional family, bizarre plots, fun weirdness, and painful fights. The show is so diverse, so eclectic, so unpredictable… it’s unique.
Tonight’s episode was by far the best of the season – which isn’t saying much at this point, but I’m convinced that when the season is over this will still be one I particularly remember. The plot (at first) is simple: Troy and Abed – TV’s greatest bromance – invite the study group to their new apartment to celebrate living together. During their game of Yahtzee, the pizza arrives, and someone has to go down and get it. Obviously, they roll dice for to decide who will go. What follows are seven different timelines where each character in turn is chosen.
That may sound weird – and it is – but it is also BRILLIANT. Why? Because we get to see how the group reacts to the same things, but in different combinations. For example, with Shirley gone, we find out about her “Baking Problem,” later revealed to be her attempt to be needed. Annie’s absence reveals her gun (she lives in a bad neighborhood). Pierce leaving develops the relationship between Troy and Britta, AND Jeff and Annie. 
Honestly, I’m still freaking out about this. It goes to show just how fragile this group is – that they’re one single move away from either making out or having a nervous breakdown. That they could either rise above their vindictive urges, or succumb to them in the worst ways. 
And where it blew my mind was the real universe. The one where Jeff – the leader and often glue of the group, leaves. What results is a group dance. No one’s feelings are hurt. No revenge is enacted. No drugs are smoked. No feelings are prematurely acted upon. Everyone is happy. Which has all sorts of implications. Is Jeff necessary? Is Jeff in fact detrimental? Has he convinced himself that the group needs him, just to avoid having to realize that he needs them more? Has Jeff refused to change, and has everyone else’s growth led to them outgrowing him? Apparently Jeff is going to be put through the ringer this season, and while I hate to see him hurt, I know it will benefit him in the long run. 
So, in conclusion, please watch this show. The first third or so of the first season is a little choppy. They were still figuring themselves out, JUST LIKE FRESHMEN REALLY DO, but when they hit their stride, YOU’LL KNOW, and thank me for it.

One Response to A Post Just For Community

  1. Pingback: Community Season Three: Crazy-Town Banana-Pants « Tellurian Things

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