Casual Watching: 3 Reasons I Love ‘Community’

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When everyone is bored at home in the first days of the epidemic, an extremely comprehensive online personality test It is designed to identify your likeness to over 1,600 fictional characters from TV, literature and movies. With a 96 percent match, my closest colleague was Jeff Winger, the charismatic lead character played by Joel McHale on NBC’s cult sitcom “Community.”

The question of whether someone NS Desiring to be like Jeff—an arrogant, silver-tongued lawyer forced into the slum at a third-year community college after his law degree turned out to be fake—is a matter for me and my therapist. But I can’t say I’m surprised by the comparison. I watched “Community” about a hundred times more than any other drama.

I watched its first five seasons during their original broadcast on NBC between 2009 and 2014, and watched its sixth and final season on the short-lived streaming service the following year. Yahoo! Screen. I still watch it on my iPad in bed, on long flights, on the couch while I eat. I watch it when I’m worried or stressed or when I need something to lift my spirits. I watch when I can’t find what else to watch. I rewatched everything from start to finish at the start of the pandemic and recently started all over again.

Of course it’s a bit Jeff’s trademark wing charm blood flowed. Given all that exposure, some osmosis was inevitable.

“The Community” is the ultimate postmodern sitcom. The premise is deceptively mundane: Jeff is in love with his fellow student Britta (Gillian Jacobs), hastily assembles a colorful study group of Spanish class outcasts, then convinces him to sit down. A law degree – the school’s drunken psychology professor Duncan (John Oliver) owes him a favor – but when Duncan refuses to cooperate, Jeff realizes that he will actually need the help of the study group. The team bonds and evolves, with Jeff as their de facto leader, and as the series progresses, we follow their journey from classmates to friends.

This is the elevator pitch. Elevator speech is a misdirection.

Creator Dan Harmon used “Community” to deconstruct the mainstream sitcom. Looking back at the series now, ten years after its debut, it’s no surprise that NBC has had creative conflicts with Harmon and its writing staff. (Harmony fired by the network after the third season, Later on brought back for the fifth after the fourth hundred loud criticism.)

“Community” is so dark, elusive, and at times defiantly idiosyncratic that it not only looks unconventional, but actively hostile to casual viewers, with ratings to match. But those who liked the show tended to do it passionately; Fans tirelessly defended “The Community” as NBC threatened to (repeatedly) cancel it.

In retrospect, it seems like a miracle that “Community” went on the air. There was nothing else on television like the blend of heartfelt and distinctive cultural literacy. Although the show ended years ago, it continues to shape pop culture. Regular series directors Anthony and Joe Russo have brought some of the same fun wit to the blockbuster movies they continue to oversee, including multiple “Avengers” movies. Many stars, especially Alison Brie, Donald Glover and Ken Jeong, have had successful careers. And Harmon finally became a hit: “Rick and Morty,” the animated sci-fi comedy he created for Adult Swim with Justin Roiland, is now in its fifth season and is widely loved.

Time has justified Harmon’s determination to realize his creative vision, no matter the cost of alienating bewildered audiences. The proof is how the inexhaustibly rewatchable “Community” remains. Here are three reasons why its greatness continues.

It’s not fake: “I prefer the term ‘respect’,” as movie-lover Abed (Danny Pudi) tells Jeff at the end of an episode modeled after the 1981 talkative urban drama “My Dinner With Andre.” One of the show’s boldest hubris was its tendency to stage entire episodes as exercises in a particular style or genre. Sometimes these modes were expansive and recognizable, like in the Season 2 finale, based on a paintball fight and shot like one of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. More often – as in the parody of “My Dinner with Andre” – the series would refer to something more obscure, especially by network television standards.

“Documentary Filmmaking: Redux” from Season 3, where Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) tries to direct a commercial for Greendale College and is driven to madness in pursuit of perfection, is based on the “Hearts of Darkness” behind the film. -Scenes documentary about Francis Ford Coppola’s difficulties while shooting “Apocalypse Now”. This makes you wonder: How many people watched “Hearts of Darkness,” and how many of them would watch an NBC sitcom on Thursday night? But you have to admire some devotion.

The inside joke quality of this esoteric humor, including hidden homages, pays off in large part due to the dedication of Harmon’s cast of the weird comedy genre. The core workgroup has great chemistry and successfully navigates every odd detour, thanks to a cast that includes Brie as the bookworm and Annie, the reformed pill popper; Glover is a nerdy athlete, Troy; Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley, the devout single mother; and Chevy Chase as the grumpy lunatic Pierce. Harmon often wrote them in unexpected combinations and pairings, and one of the joys of the show is watching them work as a cohesive comedy unit.

The supporting actors were just as likely to steal a scene. Jeong was just as good as the unqualified Spanish professor Ben Chang in the first season, and his role expanded greatly as the series progressed. Rash has likewise transitioned from a recurring role to a regular series and in many ways feels like the heart of the show.

And like “The Simpsons,” “Community” has a knack for introducing crazy characters as punch lines only to be fleshed out later: Dino Stamatopoulos, one of the show’s producers, has become a fan favorite as Star Burns (whose name is his star-shaped favorites). And one of the most memorable characters, whose dialogue is “pop pop!” limited to its exclamation point is Luke Youngblood’s “one-man party” Magnitude.

During its six-season run, “Community” has accomplished things most series would never dream of trying. (Even more impressive in the eyes of skeptical NBC executives.) This season two clip show is a network sitcom made entirely of original material – a parody of a format typically used to save time and money. This was more elaborate and time consuming than a regular episode. In the DVD commentary of the episode, Harmon said he even spent $30,000 of his own money to secure the rights. “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles because he really wanted to use it.

Harmon and his collaborators never searched in “Community”. There is a Christmas special inspired by “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” made in stop-motion animation. There’s an episode set inside an 8-bit video game and another animation that looks like the old “GI Joe”. Even the show’s obvious “bottle episode”—another typically cost-saving format where minimal action takes place entirely in one place—is clearly a complex meta-story about bottle episodes (“Cooperative Calligraphy,” one of the best). installments of the series).

My personal favourite, “Remedial Chaos Theory” features the same event unfolding simultaneously in seven different alternate universes. What other show could do that? What other show could he try?

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