Study Up: Community is the Best Show You Aren’t Watching

logan fowler gives you a pop quiz about his favorite sitcom…

It has come to be that at this point in my life, I don’t watch much TV. Sure, I’ll check out shows on DVD or stream them on my computer through Netflix. But most of my time in front of the television usually involves me holding a game controller to make characters move on the screen.

However, during the week, I have been religiously watching two shows*. One of which has a ton of people watching it every week, and the other one, not so much. These shows are The Walking Dead and Community, respectively. The latter is the one I’m here to talk about.

Community wasn’t a first-season commitment; I only watched the Halloween episode on its original air date. Yet, what I took away from it was that it was definitely quirky, had interesting characters — and one hell of a Halloween episode. Leave it to a man of Indian descent dressed as Batman, mocking Christian Bale’s voice as the Dark Knight to have me rolling.

Fast forwarding to Season 2, this blogger simultaneously watched Season 1 while Season 2 was in progression. Catching up on all the details that I missed, I discovered a wonderful show that not many people are watching. In fact, in a recent article by Entertainment Weekly, the author of said article listed shows that are great but are not getting the ratings. Community was listed.

As someone who enjoyed a number of shows that didn’t get their fair due on television (Arrested Development and Firefly are some examples), I cannot begin to understand why Community isn’t pulling in higher numbers. The laughs are raunchy at times, heartfelt at others, the chemistry is solid among the whole cast, and Chevy Chase is back as his snotty, snarky and inappropriate self!

Chase, along with The Soup! host Joel McHale, play college students at Greendale Community College in Colorado. Chase is Pierce Hawthorne, a man who earned his riches on selling a brand of wet naps, while McHale plays Jeff Winger, an acclaimed lawyer who did not earn his bachelor’s degree in the United States. Jeff attends Greendale to earn his diplmoa. Upon his arrival, he meets Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), an attractive blonde he wants to impress. Jeff finds his way in when he realizes he and Britta share a Spanish class. He fakes being a Spanish tutor, arranges a study period with her, and is shocked when Britta invites several other members from the class including Troy (Donald Glover), a former high school football star, Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), a loving mother and devout Catholic, Annie (Alison Brie), a goody two shoes, and Abed (Danny Pudi), a stoic man with bottomless knowledge of TV and film cliches and plots.

The cast is given more humor by the presence of Ken Jeong of The Hangover fame as Spanish — yes, Spanish — professor Señor Ben Chang. All these characters have to deal with the bumbling but well meaning Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), who tries to improve Greendale in any way possible but fails with most attempts. One of my personal favorite Dean mishaps was him trying to make Greendale more “Green,” even announcing Green Day was coming to play. Green Day did end up coming, but it was an Irish Bagpipe Band.

In this same episode, Troy and Abed are lab partners, trying to teach a mouse to respond to a certain music stimuli. Their music choice is a no brainer if you really give it thought. It was the theme song of a cartoon mouse: “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail. During the course of the episode, the mouse gets lost, and Abed begs Troy to look for it. We lead up to the episodes finale, which does a brilliant job of bringing all the multiple character storylines together. In one scene alone where Troy and Abed are singing the song to get the mouse back, the Green Day Irish bagpipe players are playing along with the tune, Jeff has just helped Chang reunite with his wife, Shirley is successfully demonstrating how to sell brownies, and as all the plots are tied together, Troy shrieks as the mouse runs up his leg, only to run into the science lab, drop the mouse into the cage, as Abed wholeheartedly says, “Thank you.” This scene made it fact to me: Community was something different. Something awesome.

It wasn’t until late into Season 1 that I realized something else: Community became my favorite TV show of all the TV shows I’ve ever seen. The episode that proved it was entitled “Modern Warfare.” As Jeff finds out from Troy and Abed (who through progression of Season 1 become a duo unlike any other), there is a prize to be won from an all out paintball gun war-priority registration. Jeff, ever the exhibitionist, removes his long sleeved shirt to showcase a wife-beater (a clothing term I hate using), and becomes the paintball-gun-war version of John McClane from Die Hard. Jeff and the rest of the gang decide to team up to last longer. But through twists and turns, he ends up taking the others out, until we come to a final remaining member of the study group. My words can only explain it as much as they can — watch the following to see how epic this episode really is:

The second season of Community has had some people saying it isn’t as good, and it might be true; the first season was completely solid, beginning to end. The second season has had some iffy moments, but not all was bad; it had its share of great stuff. Including zombies into this year’s Halloween episode was hilarious and leveled up from last year’s episode. Also, the gang had an astronaut simulator mission that had orders from an Atari version of Colonel Sanders. The upcoming Holiday episode sees the study group animated like an Island of Misfit Toys Cartoon. Oh, and in the most recent episode, Troy and Abed built a blanket fort to end all blanket forts.

It’s these elements that make Community something else. As I have come to read, NBC is not sure if it will renew Community for another season. It could go either way. As a fan, I would be severely disappointed if the show got pulled; with one half of my religious watching and Walking Dead ending its season soon, my TV watching would be pretty lame. In its sophomore season, Community has only time to shine, and it has shined a lot of greatness already. The best for this show is only yet to come.

So my recommendation to you is to pull up a chair on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm and flip to NBC. Do the right thing. Join the community.

*I don’t have HBO or Showtime.

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