Lest certain of you may think otherwise, I’m not talking about community the concept. That’s all well and good of course, but today, I’m talking about what might be the greatest thing on network TV right now.
Community is a sitcom that has aired on NBC for three seasons and was supposed to start its fourth tonight, but NBC–after firing creator Dan Harmon from his role as showrunner over the summer –then decided to abruptly cut the show from its Friday night at 8:30 ET slot just…pretty much just because. This is especially worrying for fans of the show because the show is already perpetually low-rated (it initially aired after The Office but was bumped to the start of the Thursday night lineup after a few weeks) and isn’t very well-known. But despite that, I absolutely LOVE IT.
OK, so the main plot of the show involves Jeff Winger (played by Joel McHale, host of The Soup AKA the only legitimately worthwhile program on E!), a suave lawyer who loses his right to practice after it’s discovered that he has a fake bachelor’s degree. He enrolls at Greendale Community College, hoping to just quietly burn through a few years of school then get back to his old life…but that all changes when he meets the goofy former anarchist Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) in his Spanish class who he tries to win over by pretending to be an expert in Spanish and inviting her to a study group. Thinking it’ll just be the two of them, he later sees she invited perhaps the most diverse, crazy group out there: former high school quarterback Troy Barnes (Donald Glover, who I talked about before), over-studious neurotic Annie Edison (Alison Brie), Christian housewife Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), pop-culture obsessive Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) and doofish millionaire Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase, yes, that one). Although he starts out tolerating them solely to get with Britta, Jeff eventually sees this group of weirdos as friends and maybe even the family he never really had.
The fact that there’s seven leads here (plus Ken Jeong as Ben Chang, the group’s completely insane Spanish teacher/antagonist and Jim Rash as the off-kilter but well-meaning Dean Craig Pelton) provides the show with a lot of potential for storylines and boy, does it take every advantage it can. The cast is great together–Pudi & Glover have a dynamite chemistry together and provide many of the show’s best moments, McHale has a remarkable dry wit, Brie, Jacobs and Brown work terrific when going with or against each other and Chevy Chase shows why he’s a comedic legend through his great improv skills and willingness to let himself be the butt of the joke–but the show’s real star is its terrifically sharp writing, which takes on every imaginable sitcom trope and subverts them wonderfully.
The show is also willing to go where no show has gone before. They do things like a pitch-perfect Law & Order homage, an episode about the group playing Dungeons & Dragons to comfort a suicidal classmate and a stop-motion Christmas special. And that’s just for starters. How many other shows do you know that would commit to even one of those things, let alone ALL of them?
This is a show that not only welcomes nerds, it celebrates them, whether through references to Energon cubes, Easter eggs that play out across the seasons or by having Abed, the excessive geek character, be perhaps the most well-adjusted of the whole group and sometimes even the most levelheaded.
I initially tuned in to this show with my sister because we liked watching McHale onThe Soup but we fell in love with everything about it. A recent rewatch of the entire series this past summer only confirmed my love for it. The show will start airing in reruns on Comedy Central next year and I highly recommend you watch it. It’s also available on Netflix, Amazon Instant and Hulu Plus.
But if you want a taste now, well, here you go…
Six seasons and a movie!