DescriptionCommunity is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time. It's funny, unique, poignant, and oddly beautiful. But how does it do all those things? Why does it do all those things? Whether you've loved Community since you were in the womb or have never heard of it in all your years of living, I'm here to answer the question of why Community is the best.
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From Community - "Community Medley 1 & 2" "Greendale is Where I Belong" "If I Die Before You" "Running Through Raining"
From Shadow of the Colossus (believe it or not, I used it) - "The Opened Way"
From A Fistful of Dollars - "A Fistful of Dollars Theme"
From The Office - "The Office Theme Song"
I love you are you okay is this really what you want of course I mean I'd be fine with the dog too but whatever you want do you have any idea what I want yes 2009 was a weird time for everybody the office was ending its fifth season and entering at six shows like Parks and Recreation and modern family we're starting up and of course the tragic fall of one of history's greatest.
Television programs according to Jim no other show could sound so generic you shall be missed by absolutely no from my friend absolutely no one anyway sitcoms were kind of in a strange position at the time a lot of shows were trying to replicate the smash success of the office while at the same time many shows were trying to do things that sitcom had never done before putting a.
New spin on old ideas recent startups at the time like Callie Met Your Mother and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia come to mind but even in that many shows were finding safe nooks to rest in during their airtime those that came out or were picking up steam during this period we're finding themselves caught in the routine and that doesn't necessarily mean they were bad just that they were.
Predictable but in 2009 there was one show that went against that one show that was constantly self-aware of its own flaws one show that was constantly trying new things and breaking all the rules it was supposed to follow one show that was quietly challenging every concept of what a sitcom could be I am of course referring to the classic show The Big Bang Theory it's actually.
Community of course I'm talking about community you read the title you know how you got here why the hell would I talk about the Big Bang Theory what's wrong with you created by Dan Harmon community was a sitcom that took place in a Colorado community college called Greendale following the exploits of a group of misfits and assholes the show was constantly a risk for cancellation.
With every year passing by being another word community could have been canned but it was kept alive by one of the most loyal and diehard fan bases on the planet managing to reach five seasons with a sixth on Yahoo's now-defunct streaming service before finally being cancelled in 2015 it left behind a legacy of being one of TV's smartest most subversive and unique.
To ever grace the small screen but why what made this show so amazing what gave it such a loving families how did a show so constantly on the verge of cancellation still managed to be a critical darling from day one I am throw around buzzwords like subversive and unique all I want but what really made communities such a great show well I'm here to hopefully answer that question.
This is why community is the best right off the bat community is already different from other sitcoms and it's very premise think about it most of your typical sitcoms deal with the most ideally average settings and ideas the office takes place in a regular old office workspace hi my mother was about a group of friends in New York friends is about a group of friends in New York.
Huh and according to Jim is the most generic casting ever I will never get over that seriously but community takes place in a community college the greatest emblem of underachieving and just getting by rather than taking place in the most average and relatable places that everyone ends up or hopes to end up human DeeDee setting is a place that very few would take seriously based on.
Principle and in that community is immediately allowed to be self-aware and unserious from the very beginning moments of the first episode the show isn't taking itself seriously it already knows what it's dealing with I see your value now that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me it opens up the show to any and all kinds of plots ideas and.
Concepts by setting the show in a place and no one takes seriously it can do pretty much anything that it wants to do without anybody questioning and our caring something like the office is only able to do as much as it setting allows it to do which is surprisingly allow when it comes down to it but that's for another day however community has a setting.
Malleable enough to where it can do everything from a zombie survival film to a parody of law and order to a simple search for a purple pen to something completely different and unique and weird but I can't start talking about that without first talking about what is perhaps the show's greatest strength its cast of characters I hereby pronounce you a community the main cast is made up.
Of seven different and unique misfits and assholes and a study of you're born from a desire of one of those assholes trying to get into one of the misfits pants I'm not kidding that's exactly how the show starts and by god this is one of the greatest ensemble cast of all time don't at me Ashley do at me that's true stories like I said before each character is different and unique from.
Each other in so many important ways Jeff is an ex lawyer who's too cool for school and he is a driven academic Purdue's a social justice warrior etc and etc this kind of diversity NSA comcast is already spectacular allowing for fun interactions between the feminists Britta and the womanizing Jeff or the creative Abed and the two-sided Shirley or whatever other parent you can.
Think up but what makes it even better is the very obvious chemistry the entire cast has with each other they bounce off each other in ways other ensembles can only dream of making every interaction and every joke feel completely natural no matter how ridiculous are crazy the lines and contexts might seem there's a scene in season two where Jeff is trying to get.
Annie to blow things off and any argues against it by just blowing off standing and speaking and it's just writhing around on the ground making stupid noises and I completely believe it because not only are the performances pitch perfect but these two characters bounce off each other so well that the interaction itself feels completely natural it should be stupid but it isn't.
Because there's no part of it that feels faked or forced the chemistry between every actor or actress on the screen is incredibly palpable probably owing to the fact that most of these people were great friends sad I mean you try and find an interview with any community alumni where they don't mention how active their group chat still is to this day these guys.
Loved each other and you can feel it in every last conversation and interaction that they have with each other but one of my favorite aspects of the characters besides their obvious chemistry and diversity is a simple thing that some sitcoms really seemed to miss was every character in the group honestly every character in the show is fundamentally flawed in their personalities Geoff's.
Too-cool-for-school attitude leads him to hurt people and occasionally manipulate them for his own ends and he's driven nature can force her to push others to the side in pursuit of her own goals and makes it very difficult for her to take rejection or failure Pierce's peers every character in this show has flaws and problems usually those that put them in Community College.
In the first place for example Annie's unwillingness to fail drove her to a high school pill addiction that was supposed to make her better at academics but instead just put her in rehab and now she's desperately trying to catch up on the time that she's lost everyone ended up at Greendale because they were flawed because they had issues they didn't take care of well and so we get a.
Cast of characters whose flaws are front and center and the show's commitment to not hiding the cast's faults is present in the lack of one of sitcoms and most guarded character archetypes the straight man for those unacquainted the straight man is a comedy role where you have to keep your composure in the face of crazy antics and shenanigans being one who more sets up and reacts to the.
Funny stuff than someone who actually does the funny stuff well it's mostly used in comedy double acts like Abbott and Costello the straight man has been a facet of the sitcom since its inception usually being the main character of the show or at least one of the central characters they are the normal everyday Joe's who have gotten caught up in the shenanigans and much more eccentric.
Characters take Jim Halpert from the office he has his moments in the comedic spotlight but he's mostly someone who sets up the joke for others to pay off as a character he's one of the most normal easygoing and least distinct in the entire series whose primary duty is to set up the jokes and react to the insanity brought on by other characters hence the infamous Jim look this is a.
Straight man and community has no such thing the closest is it has to a straight man is Jeff but he's not a straight man well he's arguably the most normal of the group Jeff is just as often taking part in Mission Antiguans and telling the jokes as he is reacting and by the end of the first season the series has abandoned all pretense of him being any sort of straight man with a.
Cast a straight man is a character whose flaws and abilities are usually brushed to the side because it's the flaws of the other characters that pays off the straight man setup but with the main cast of community every characters flaws are evident and visible and are constantly interacting to make the show move and with all of this the show goes from a sitcom that's reacting to the.
Insanity of life around it to a sitcom that accepts and embodies that insanity without a second thought with no anchor point for any sense of normalcy the show's comedy comes not from the reaction to the insane but the recognition of it what's funny is not how the show plays up the conflict between the normal and the crazy but how willing the show is to abandon the.
Normal entirely making for a show that very often comes off as something completely unlike what anyone has ever seen before retaining a wonderfully unique and effective sense of humor so how do the characters work within this insanity well the show's characters have very strong personalities to find mostly by one or two character traits each and.
From a distance it seems like that's all the characters really have to them but the show doesn't use those simple strong personalities as an excuse to not develop its characters every character has a reason for being the way that they are and the best way to look at that I think is to look at my personal favorite character in the show Abed nadir on the surface Abed is a very simple character.
He looks at the world as though it's a TV show or a movie and he's always the one to strike with an observation about a cliche or an idea that the situation at the time embodies and it would have been so easy I mean so so easy for the show to leave him that way it would have been easy to just have him be a vehicle for the show's constant criticism and recognition of television and movie.
Tropes and a simple means by which to understand what the show is parroting at any given moment but they didn't Abed is a character who obviously has some sort of mental disability similar to something that would appear on the autism scale showcasing various symptoms throughout the series he has trouble identifying with others emotions and problems because of how ever-changing.
Complex and chaotic those emotions and problems can be so Abed has a hard time understanding others and more than that it hasn't even a harder time expressing his own feeling and anxieties but what is easy for him to understand is the much more ordered and rule driven nature of television and movies it's through these mediums that Ovid is able to understand the world.
Around him while also being able to communicate his own emotions in a way that makes sense to both him and others and while this sometimes further alienates him it's silvermane's as his best way to understand interact with himself and those around him do I even need to keep going in this video I think I just answered my question they took a character whose purpose in the series.
Was entirely mechanical and managed to craft a compelling interesting and relatable person out of it if that's not great character writing I don't know what is and every character in the Study Group has the same amount of internal complexity that informs their stronger external personalities every character I could go into details about British self-hatred and Geoff's fear being heard.
By others but I think I've gotten my point across while this character writing is great in isolation the method the show uses of creating complex characters out of strong OneNote personalities allows the show of freedom not afforded to many others community has the ability to do two different types of episodes simple chaotic and ridiculous episodes like.
Epidemiology as well as more introspective and subtle episodes like mixology certification both episodes are great but for completely different reasons utilizing the characters and completely different but equally understandable ways Epidemiology uses the stronger personalities to get the most humor out of a frankly ridiculous situation creating more character-driven.
Comedy out of a crazy context that manages to make fun of the genre it stands in with the outspoken personalities of its cast alternatively an episode like mixology certification is far more grounded trading a zombie outbreak for a choice 21st birthday and while it's far less crazy and chaotic the episode showcases choice anxieties about becoming an adult alongside.
Annie's insecurities about our own identity making for an understated but no less hilarious examination of the characters more complex personalities both episodes work just as well as each other because the nature of the characters allows for the audience to latch on to both concepts of what they can be just silly strong personalities or more complex and layered ones and.
While this is all well and good community is that it's best not when it's doing a ridiculous episode like epidemiology nor one is doing a subtle one like mixology certification community is at its best when it's doing both at the same time by this point you've probably realized that community can be a really insane show when it wants to be.
But there's a method to the madness community is constantly parenting and making fun of different genres tropes and concepts within its episodes sometimes several at one time but it isn't parody just for the sake of it the parody of episodes like basic interlude you'll numismatics which parodies david fincher style detective thrillers is all done in service to.
Developing and exploring its characters the aforementioned episode uses the detective genre to explore the relationship of Jeff and Annie and the obvious sexual tension between them the parody usually uses the strong personalities of the characters to create extreme circumstances that simultaneously delve into the core of who these characters are and the.
Relationships they've established one of the best examples of this is the season 2 episode of Fistful of paintballs the episode parodies a Wild West setting specifically Sergio Leone's dollars trilogy in order to service the much smaller scale and more intimate narrative on display between the characters at Pearson Annie Pierce is trying to have as much fun as possible.
In this paintball game because once it's over he gets left behind until the next semester and he gets angry at the rest of the study group because they seem to be pushing him out little by little due to his very problematic nature but any the most genuinely kind-hearted and trusting person of the group please when Penn learn involved stands up for him only to slowly realize that Pierce is.
Just as problematic as everyone says he is leading to a good old-fashioned duel between the two that's honestly one of the most legitimately dramatic moments of the entire series the episode makes fun of Wild West traps certainly take this wonderful shot right here for example but it also utilizes the ideas of its source material to service the story being told such as the previously.
Mentioned duel the idea of Fort Hawthorne or the obvious nod to for a few dollars more in the flashback scenes the parody works because not only is it making fun of the tropes of the western genre but it's also respecting its achievements to craft a wonderful blend of unique humor and human drama and there are so many episodes that do this so many episodes they use parody to.
Create original engaging and thoughtful stories basically luteal numismatics basic lupine neurology Ovid uncontrollable Christmas advanced engine to dragons paradigm with human memory physical education modern warfare pillows and blankets and of course one of if not my absolute favorite episode of the series geothermal escapism and to understand.
Why this episode works so well and how its emblematic of why the show works so well we need to understand why the friendship of troy and abed is so important you were out there somewhere and you weren't looking for me any community fan will tell you just how wholesome and endearing the friendship between Troy Barnes and Abed nadir is they were the perfect pairing they were.
Both goofy and kind of childlike Abed brought that sight out of Troy who began in Greendale terrified of what others thought of them and Troy acted as the more mature side of the pairing that grounded Abed when he needed it Troy gets to be more of who he is while Abed gets a conduit to the connections he'd been missing all of his life Abed was used to years of bullying being.
Stuffed into lockers and being alienated by his peers and Troy had been used to lying about the kind of person he really was defining himself solely by what others expected him to be but together Troy and Abed were able to correct those parts of each other and make each other who they want it to be while all the other members of the group were certainly friends with one another and.
Cared about each other Troy and Abed shared a special bond that permeated itself throughout community it was a constant always welcome presence in almost every episode so when Troy decides to leave Greendale in favor of growing as a person and becoming his own man of course Abed is going to do everything in his power to not let that happen.
Geothermal escapism was the troy goodbye episode in season 5 as he was going to leave to sail a ship around the world courtesy of Pearce and an effort to experience life in a way he never had before it was the ultimate conclusion to Troy's character a former football player and jock going to sea to try and truly come into his own as a person separated from the expectations of other.
People but Abed wasn't willing to let go and why would he be from what we can gather in the show this is the first best friend Abbott has ever really had outside of his TVs and movies and even disregarding that Abbott has always been resistant to change and if we're going to assume that Abed has some form of autism then such a big change as his best friend moving away is going to be.
Devastating all in its own so naturally Ovid creates a school-wide game of hot lava in order to stop Troy from leaving this episode does everything right it's a perfect parody of movies like Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic stories with Greendale transforming into its own little world where there are new terms new settings even new religions start to take shape by the vapors of magma wrath.
We will restore it it's all new and it's all about surviving all orchestrated by Abed who was trying to survive his best friend leaving him possibly forever the lava is real to him because that's what this whole situation feels like it feels like lava is all around him like he has no place to go and know their goal other than to survive Troy's leaving or maybe even prevent it and it's crazy as the.
Episode can get it never loses sight of the emotional core of its characters and its narrative it's not just a post apocalypse parody for the sake of it it's a perfect metaphor for Abed's wildly flailing emotions just watch this moment and tell me you don't feel something I don't think I because you're leaving I think it through because that won't.
Let go sorry bye it's really stupid and yet I cry it is stupid when you get down to what's really happening here it's just an imaginative boy falling into pretend lava because he can't handle this friend moving away it should feel childish and pointless but the way it's presented makes it feel just as genuine as it.
Needs to just as genuine as a bet Cesar it's crazy it's ridiculous it's weird but it retains a level of heart and sincerity I haven't seen in any other sitcom really ever just imagine something like the office doing an episode like this so the Big Bang Theory er King of Queens are according to Jim even with more unique shows like it's always sunny something like geothermal.
Escapism just wouldn't work on the same level the episode takes the emotions of its characters and makes them physically real and manifests their feelings and fears and anxieties being experienced in a physical capacity in the real world elevating the impact of moments like this tenfold it's hilarious and ridiculous and heartbreaking all at the same time and from all this you'd.
Probably believe community to be just this perfect succumb this perfect show without any faults or issues or problems or season four isn't actually that bad really like from a superficial standpoint viewing it in isolation season four is a perfectly suitable season of a show it has some laughs some strong moments and even a couple of.
Strong episodes yet season four is almost universally reviled by the community community even being written off as the gas leak gear in season five and I think that before we figure out the biggest reason why community is the best we need to understand why season four doesn't work despite technically working after the end of season three Dan Harmon was fired as showrunner.
Despite the show being renewed for a fourth season why Harmon was fired comes down to a myriad of things I simply don't want to go into because it really isn't important what is important is that Harmon was fired from the show after season three and returned for season five but season four was left in the hands of David do it Gork garde she did quite good and Moses.
Port who had worked on the short-lived sitcom aliens in America which is exactly what it sounds like it is but what good and poor didn't do that bad a job all things considered again the season isn't totally awful or bad when taken in isolation but when you look at it compared to the three seasons that came before you begin to notice that season four was nothing more than a.
Barely passable shallow imitation of what community had always been look at the first episode of the season history 101 and where Abed fits in it he spends pretty much the entire episode panicking about how it's his senior year and how after it everything is going to change going deeper and deeper into his happy place which is just a series of more.
Traditional sitcoms that continue to get lazier and simpler the deeper he goes this isn't a bad idea it makes sense for our Betts character but there's something missing from it the heart it feels more like just a gag then it doesn't sincere depiction of who of it is as a character in the same way that geothermal escapism did it has the look of community but none of the soul of.
Community the main problem with season 4 is and stay with me now it was trying too hard to be what community was community was a show that was all about not defining itself by other people's expectations of what it should be it submerged the traditional set con tropes of its day but it never felt like it did it solely for the sake of subversion it did it.
Because but simply Dan Harmon didn't want to do it that way he and the other writers on the show didn't define the series by how it related to other sitcoms community dared to be itself regardless of expectations regardless of what fans or critics or networks wanted and season 4 took that identity and tore it apart by making a season that was created completely based on what David.
And port thought community fans wanted and it just feels like a typical set calm and communities closed it said Oh community does parody what we should do parody to puppets puppets does it service the characters or their relationships in any way I don't know and I don't care oh they're gonna love this and then they hated it season four was so obsessed with looking like.
Community that it failed to feel like it community's identity was dependent on never trying to be what people expected or didn't expect community never cared about what other people expected it to be and it allowed it to focus on being as strong as it could be as what it was okay I know this video has gone on for much longer than usual and I know that this has mostly just been me rambling.
About how much I love this show but there's still a little bit more to go I want to look at one last episode in depth because I think it manages to give the best display of what made community so great and why the fans love it so much season 6 episode 13 the emotional consequences of broadcast television otherwise known as communities series.
Finale I think it goes without saying that I am going to be talking about how the series ends here and while I don't think spoilers matter that much for a show like this you can still go to this point in the video if you want to avoid knowing how the series ends the season ends the same way that every season ends the school year is over and.
The study group is going on one last adventure before summer vacation though this time it's not so much an adventure or more is it just everyone pitching their ideas for a hypothetical season son everybody gives their take on what community should become in the next season but nobody's really taking it that seriously it's just a fun little game for everybody to play except for.
Jeff when he realizes that Annie the member of the group he's wanted to be with for a very long time is going to go away possibly for good Jeff's fear kicks in that not only is just Annie leaving but it really seemed like everyone is leaving Troy left in season five Pierce died before that Shirley left before the start of season six even Abed is leaving to go and.
Pursue a film career in California and after this happens Jeff's version of season six becomes everyone getting jobs at the school the same way he did and he's completely serious about it going so far as to encourage Annie to start working on a degree in education and while that would maybe work to keep the show going it's infeasible in real life to just ask.
Annie or Abed or anyone else to just give up on their dreams for the sake of keeping everything the same Jeff is being left behind at the place he was the most desperate to get out of and he's terrified that the sense of order he gained in the chaos of Greendale is going to fall apart and when his version of the future is understandably rejected he turns around.
And leaves running to the quite literal sense of stability found in the table the study group always sat around it's where their adventures began climaxed and ended and where it all started to Ken the very next day he thinks of his own version of the future in the form of the most idyllic scene of Americana he can think of he's married to Annie he has a child named Sebastian he's happy.
But in this dream of the future and he asks him if this is really what he wants the implication being that Jeff is just afraid that this perfect life is beyond him now that he spent so much time idle in the insanity of Greendale that he could never have this life it reminds me of oh god this is gonna sound pretentious it reminds me of the Robert Frost poem the road not taken' and which.
A man takes the path less traveled and is in anguish about never getting to see what life would be like if he had taken the other path Jeff took the path less traveled by getting caught up in Greendale learning to accept who he is and now he's scared that that path was the wrong one now he's older and he doesn't get the chance to go back but he doesn't need to community embraces chaos.
And weirdness and change because that's what makes up our lives life is crazy and weird and ever-changing it barely makes sense at any given moment and that scares us we're all trying to find that path to the perfect ideal life but none of us can find it because it doesn't exist we define ourselves based on the expectations of a society that feeds us a lie it fell for itself we define our.
Worth based on whether or not we found our soul mate whether or not we have the perfect kid a dog a white picket fence or a college degree we look to stories for comfort and for safety but the television and movies that are structured and have rules and order they make sense and that comforts us in this chaotic mess we call life the community has never been interested in creating an.
Image of life we could never actually reach it wanted to emulate the crazy unpredictable nature of what life really was the show itself constantly felt this behind-the-scenes with constant threat of cancellation the problematic and self-destructive actions of Dan Harmon cast members leaving left and right to pursue other facets of their careers or just for personal reasons community was.
Just as much a victim to the chaos as we are and yet community still kept going just the same as it always had because life is too short and crazy to spend it worrying about what other people think community was always about not changing yourself to belong but belonging to those who take you as you are all your flaws all your fears all your mistakes and that's exactly what.
Community did it found people who took it as it was rather than changing for mass appeal it found one of the most dedicated loving and loyal fan bases on the planet and while that fan base is still small it took community as it was community was always about being yourself because the Greendale you're already accepted Greendale is the place for the crazy the weird the chaotic the.
Flawed and the broken it's a place for all of us and that above all else is why community is the best six seasons and a movie
Best of Community
Fistful of Paintballs
Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television