Community – My new TV show

community cast in desks

In our quest to find a new TV series on which to binge, it was recommended that we give NBC’s Community a try as a possible fill-in. We watched the first episode on NetFlix and found the characters interesting enough to give it another go and watched the next. Fast forward about a week and we’ve reached the end of Season 2 and are starting Season 3.

Prior to starting it I had heard of the show but had no real idea what it was about so the concept at first seemed foreign, but the show and the characters will endear themselves (mostly) to you quite quickly. You’ll learn that the title has many layers. Here’s a short (spoiler-free) rundown.

The Story:

Set at just about the worst community college in the country, Greendale Community College, Community is about a core group of 7 very different people who find themselves all in the same Spanish class and form a study group together. This study group never really studies, but man do they get schooled by the wacky adventures they have together.

Jeff had originally started the group to win Britta over and sleep with her, but Abed interfered, others were invited and hilarity ensued. 4 seasons worth so far (Only 3 available on NetFlix).

The characters:

Jeff Winger (Joel McHale): The handsome leader of the group Winger was disbarred from practicing law when it was discovered his “Degree from Columbia” meant the country, not the university. Now he’s forced to attend community college for 4 years to obtain the requisite bachelor’s degree before attempting reinstatement.

Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs): The target of Jeff’s initial lust, Britta has a history of “causes” both political and individual. While far from mothering, she feels the need to help people. Her goals are never clear, but she seems determined to not be drawn in by Jeff’s advances.

Danny Pudi as Abed Nadir

Abed Nadir

Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi): Abed is an enigma wrapped in a TV series. He’s at Greendale to learn what he needs to take over his father’s falafel restaurant. His behavior suggests he’s possibly got Asperger Syndrome and seems very unclear on where the line between a TV show or movie and real life might be drawn.

Abed’s mind works very differently from most people. The show spends much of the first season setting up (subtly) that all of this may be a show in Abed’s mind – and there’s no payoff either way yet. He is obsessed with pop culture, primarily TV and movies. He also plays an excellent Batman and an Alien (not at the same time. Abed is my favorite character on the show.

Shirley Bennet (Yvette Nicole Brown): A divorced mother of 2, Shirley is a very odd but strong woman in the group. A woman of strong Christian faith, Shirley has a strong set of morals that she lives by and isn’t afraid to shove them down your throat if she doesn’t agree. She jokes about secretly baptizing Abed (who is Muslim).

Annie Edison (Allison Brie): “Little Annie Adderall” or “Adderall Annie” had a breakdown in high school and was forced to drop out and deal with her addiction to Adderall. She went to high school with Troy and had/has a crush on him. When Jeff arrives and shows her some attention, she starts to switch her affections.

Troy Barnes (Donald Glover): Former BMOC (Big man on campus) Troy was the quarterback of his high school team and loved by everyone but is struggling outside of that environment. He and Abed become very good friends, developing a secret handshake and even a fake Morning TV Show. They are often featured in the closing sketch of the show.

Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase): Pierce is grandfather of the group. He’s grown up wealthy (Hawthorne Wipes baby wipes) but scarred. He can’t relate to the rest of the group a lot of times and is generally not very nice. He’s outwardly racist and slightly homophobic. As the oldest member of the group, in many ways he’s the one who never grew up.

Being an ensemble piece set in a large environment there’s a cast of other characters we get to know. Ian Duncan, Dean Pelton, Señor Chang, Leonard, Star-burns, Garrett, Magnitude and Fat Neil are just a few of them.

The lowdown:

This show is crazy. Seasons 1 and 2 end with just MASSIVE paintball wars that practically destroy the campus. There’s a Halloween episode where a zombie infection hits the campus and a Christmas story done like a traditional claymation animated show (think classic Rudolph). The continuity of the story is epic – they very subtly show something important happening in the background and then reference it – in the next season! I mean, come on. What 30 minute sitcom does that?

I may be overselling that. The number of sitcoms I watch is limited and yeah, they do that (How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory).

Ok. I’m done. I’m coming down off my soapbox. But seriously, creator Dan Harmon has created an incredibly enjoyable and enlightening show. He wasn’t involved in season 4 and I’m afraid to see what was done with this terrific series but he’s coming back for season 5 so they apparently didn’t destroy it.