So unless you have been living under a stone, or are far more pleasantly occupied doing something of value for our society (2 Wars and a Depression, YAY!), you probably already know about the show Community. But if you don’t, kill yourself. No don’t do that because then you would miss out on this grand hiatus that has been given to you to catch up on the current, or past, seasons. Now it’s true that the show, as of writing this article, is in a murky point on the NBC line up and many people are clamoring about #6seasonsandamovie and “Abed 2012”, trying to give the show back the steam that led it this far. But while better people than us with way more time do those things speak out, I will convince you to take the show for what it is at this point, watch it, and get pissed all over because your new favorite show is in Prime Time purgatory.
Reason 1: Acting/Characters
A cavalcade of unknowns mixed in with two or three well-knowns might be the soup du jour but after the initial episode of the first season you will come to love the people you kinda, sorta recognize from that one show…once. The two “stars” of the show, and the allure to finding this show out from the start, are Chevy Chase and Joel McHale. Anybody who has been alive in the past three decades can tell you who Chevy Chase is and at least three of his movies. Chevy is a comedy icon and it really spoke highly to me to think that someone like him would “choose” (I use that word because he never has to work again if he didn’t want) to take out time in his day and spend money in order to be a part of Community. Also his character Pierce Hawthorne has to be the best stereotypical “crotchety-old-man-who-tries-to-fit-in-with-the-younger-kids” that I have ever seen. I can’t help but think that that character was tailor made for him.
Sexy, sexy Joel McHale, everyone’s dream boat from The Soup brings his charm, wit, and “ripped-like-Jesus” body to another stereotypical copy of what normal, jaded people think when we see someone like that, “He has to be a douche.” And circle gets the square! Jeff Winger is that guy who seems to have it all and Joel’s snarky, sharp-tongued comments come off so authentically, that I would be afraid to speak around him in person. His height, his bod, and his sincere-to-the-point-of-being-mean facial expressions; everything that Mr. McHale brings to Jeff Winger makes you want to travel backward in time and hit that straight-A jock kid with your car all over again it’s so good. As a dude who has way too much time to watch shows like this, I often disagree with casting, partly because I want to be a snarky asshole too but also I see enough people play enough atypical roles to see an opportunity missed, but this was nail and head time, all the way.
Breaking down every character is a little repetitious and honestly you would probably get bored, so HIGHLIGHTS TIME! To round out the list of the group we have Britta Perry played by Gillian Jacobs, Abed Nadir played by Danny Pudi, Shirley Bennett played by Yvette Nicole Brown, Annie Edison played by Alison Brie, Troy Barnes played by Donald Glover (no relation), Senor Chang played by Ken Jeong, and Dean Pelton played by Jim Rash. There that should fill the fairness quota of this article! Not to sound callous but since this is a “Reasons to Watch” and not a complete breakdown of the show, the few standouts and reasons I tune in are Troy, Chang, Abed and Annie. Troy and Abed have one of the best bro-mances on television right now and come equipped with all the inside jokes and secret handshakes that the writers could think of. Chang is the wild card, along with Pierce, and Ken Jeong does an amazing job at this character to rival Chevy and Joel. Tailor made all the way. Finally, Annie, ahhhhh. Her coy schoolgirl routine complete with super cute outbursts and random sexual tension with Jeff make Community impossible to miss for me. And did I mention HOT, because I think I shou-HOT-ld have…HOT. If God intended to make one person for my viewing and not touching pleasure, it would be Ms. Alison Brie, just sayin’.
Reason 2: Writing
But what are characters without a script? Improv you respond with smug satisfaction and a snorting laugh, and then I kick you in the throat for interrupting. Yes, the writing on this particular show has been praised by more accomplished people than I but it’s my list of things so I’ll take a crack at it. Every time I watch this show I think to myself, “This must be where hipsters with B. A.’s in English/Dramatic Writing/WTF-else go to battle over the belt of ‘Pop Culture Knowledge’ but in a good way.” The writers seem to be given free range of what the characters will say or how on the nose they can be from Dan Harmon, to the point where its setting an industry standard of “tête à tête”.
But you may be asking, “Eric, is it relatable? Will I get it? Will my Grandmother in Wisconsin understand what the “ethnics” on the screen are saying?” And my answers are yes, yes, and I think your Grandmother might be racist. If you are slightly in the “know”, if you have ever played COD: Modern Warfare, if you know what an iPhone is and have a Facebook account, then yes you will have more hilarious quips and pop culture references thrown at you than sexually allegations at potential GOP candidates (Bazinga!). Though this is not to say that all they hang their hopes on are witty puns and well placed Star Wars callbacks. The establishing of the characters and the building of the relationships to the point where you care about all of them, even Chang, rivals that of The Office (U.S.), my all time favorite show. Many times over you will be put in a boxing gym of comedy and come out having a stockpile of catch phrases to use at the water cooler.
Reason 3: Epilogues
This may bleed into the writing a bit but honestly I have never stayed so long or laughed so hard at the end of a show than at this one. The thirty seconds to a minute at the end have really been given to the actors for their creative outlets. This is where I saw “Troy and Abed in the Morning” and the Spanish rap song and many others, that give you an honest sense that these guys really do have fun on the set and it’s not all about business 100% of the time. When I watch a show I like to think of the people who work in it, with their 15 to 18 hour days and re-taping and re-shooting and blah blah blah. I think of this and how easy it could be to not go the extra mile, how easy it could be just to do the job, get the check and call it a night. I’m sure some nights are like that for these guys but as the aforementioned TV addict, I genuinely appreciate all the thought that not only goes into the show itself but these epilogues as well. Some are simple and others are really elaborate, but the point is that doing this sets Community apart from the pack of other Thursday Night comedies. If nothing else catch the last minute or so, during the credits crawl, and see what I’m talking about. You won’t be disappointed.
Well, I think I have done my part and now it’s time to do yours. Unfortunately, the outlet with the most ease to catch up on these episodes, Netflix, does not have the rights to the show, but Hulu Plus does, and for a small pittance they’ll even let you see it. And if I am convincing enough to send you to Best Buy and get the first season DVD, Huzzah! Ultimately it boils down to what kind of television viewer you are. Do you like the same teen dramas over and over again? Would you consider yourself a fan of ghost catcher programs? Do you love video games so much that you don’t have cable? Any answer you give will prove that you have an episode of Community with your name on it and all I ask is that you find it. #6SeasonsAndAMovie