This will be a feature in which I countdown my top 10 TV shows of all time and talk about the reasons why they’re in the list and what I love about them. At 7 is Community.
Community ran between 2009 and 2015, it had 5 seasons on NBC and a 6th on online streaming service, Yahoo Screen. It was created by Dan Harmon and centres around the lives of a study group at a Community college called Greendale.
I began watching Community with my girlfriend a couple of years ago and fell in love with it, now, after finishing it’s 6th season on a high note, Community remains one of my favourite ever shows. First and foremost, it’s easily the funniest show I’ve ever seen, each episode is packed with jokes of all shapes and sizes, they’re clever, witty, dirty, dumb, slapstick and specific, but all brilliant.
They come organically from the characters, who, like the cast of Parks and Rec are all hilarious and always bring something funny to the table. The writing compliments their personalities, being exceedingly sharp and well crafted that the jokes are often unpredictable, except when they’re not meant to be. Whether its a Jeff one liner, or Troy being a bit dumb, the humour stems from a team of intelligent writers who easily get comedy, not from vulgarity or insulting, but the right place.
Community is most famous for its pop culture references, parodies and high concept episodes. It’s an incredibly meta show that lives and breathes its references, whether setting an entire episode in a mockumentary style, or most famously having an entire episode revolve around a game of paintball and filming it like an action movie, with every single cliché nailed down pat. Its metatextuality comes across so well because it weaves into an honest and well developed world, filled with characters you like and care about.
Abed is the show’s resident pop culture spouter, often comparing life to a TV show and being very meta, explaining his disdain for bottle episodes, just as they become one. Yet with this, the writers have the opportunity to explore something deeper, Abed is not just somebody annoying that people can make fun of, sometimes his flights of fantasy are about him struggling to cope with reality, and because of it there is a genuine sense of threat, that he might become lost.
This is where the show holds its second biggest gun, if the show can spend hours of fantastic television in creating brilliant parodies of Film and TV, then it’s because it has us totally invested in the people who live in this world. Like all of the best shows, it has a big heart, for all the side splitting moments of genius invention and hilarity, there is a moment where a specific piece of music kicks in, and it’ll make you smile more than the comedy ever could.
This piece of music captures the heart and soul of this show, it’s beautiful and uplifting, and I will never forget it. When the show needs to, it slows down, and gives you a scene that will bring a tear to your eye.
This scene from a Season 2 episode is a heartfelt moment between Troy and Annie, it comes after an episode that mainly focuses on comedy, but as we get to the end, we get to unpick a bit of the characters, learning things about them and their relationship to each other. This moment encapsulates the one side of the show that I adore, the honest pathos that comes from a group of people to living with each other, it lends itself to true insight, and its a thing of beauty.
The characters are wonderfully crafted and diverse, each with individual personalities and idiosyncrasies.They’re a loveable and funny bunch who we care about, in terms of their relationships with each other. The show, for all of its fourth wall breaking, spoofs and bizarre side plots is commendable for still having a beating heart that makes you really care.
Community has gone through a lot of trouble, after it’s 3rd season, series creator Dan Harmon was fired for no reason, being replaced, leading to the show’s weakest season. After massive fan outcry, Harmon was brought back and a 5th season went ahead, only to be cancelled. It was then picked up by Yahoo Screen and a 6th season was commissioned, completing the first half of the shows self fulfilling mantra #6seasonsandamovie.
As well as these network troubles, Chevy Chase was notoriously horrible on set and a feud with Dan Harmon led to Chase leaving the show. Donald Glover, Troy, left the show in Season 5 to pursue a music career, Yvette Nicole Brown had to leave the show at the end of Season 5 due to family troubles, so, come Season 6, the show wasn’t the show that it had once been. Yet, against it all, it came out the other end unscathed. The episodes in this, final?, season were greatly received and the final episode garnered universal acclaim.
The music is often delightful and beautiful, often changing to fit the mood of its high concept episodes. These high concept episodes mark the greatest peaks of Communities imagination. From stop motion, 8 bit designed, alternate realities and zombies, to western, detective and action movie spoofs, Community has more than enough invention to keep it alive. As it happens, the episodes that aren’t high concept, are also funny and engaging.
In the past few years I have grown and developed my love of TV, Community was a major part in helping me find out just what I like. Over the course of 6 seasons it has stayed as a linchpin in my show watching, consistently staying at the top and rarefying my tastes. It’s the funniest TV show I’ve ever watched, but its also sweet, and sad, and exciting, and clever. It’s really, truly wonderful and I love it so much, and it’s only at number 7.
So, this has been my shortest TV countdown as of yet. This isn’t in any way saying that I love Community any less than the others, but because it was taking me a while to get it finished, and it was actually quite hard to put into words why it’s so special. It’s one of those shows that you just gotta watch, and if you like it you like it, if you don’t you, you don’t. I won’t babble on too much, the next show I will write about is gonna be long, I feel very passionately about it and I want to get my view across precisely.