In Praise of “Community.”

This afternoon I was, as I am wont to do for some reason, checking out the national ratings for several network television shows. It made me sad that Parks & Recreation (which is certainly the best comedy on TV right now) is tied with one of the worst shows, Whitney. It made me even sadder that Community, probably the second best comedy (arguably, the most inventive/creative) is in 12th place.

Community is a great show with surprisingly adroit and deep satire/parodies of zombie movies, holiday specials, westerns, science-fiction and sit-coms themselves. But that alone doesn’t make a great show. To me, it’s the way the show has handled, not only people of various ethnic backgrounds, but people of different faiths. Race & Religion; two topics most shows don’t even mention much less make a focal point for characters and their interaction. Community does it very well (though they could be a bit more even-handed with the devout Christian; just as baking shouldn’t be the characters sole definition, don’t let religion be a character crutch.) Let’s go back to Race for a second. Here’s a sit-com on a network show that is intermixed like a school in California would be; three WASP-y characters, one Jewish girl, one Pakistani kid, a Chinese lunatic, and two African-americans. And their race isn’t the focus of the show (like, say, it seemed that Outsourced focused on.) Dealing with how their differences don’t, and sometimes do, interfere with their relationships is great fun.

While much has been said of their incredibly well-done paintball episodes (weaving action in with deftly sharpened spoofs of action movies, westerns and Star Wars,) to me their most insightful episode was called “Paradigms of Human Memory” which paid tribute to the hokey sit-com trick of “Remember when…” clip shows by recalling (showing) scenes from episodes that never happened.

It’s a wonderful, very well-done show that NBC has put on hiatus. There may not be another season. Low ratings. This disappoints me so much. It’s there.. it’s all there, but they’re going to let it go away and that’s sad. Recently, I’ve been discussing with some producer-types ideas for shows and events, but in the back of my head I thought, “Really? There’s no way you’re going to me/us do what we REALLY want to do.” It’s a rare thing to see a creator really express what he wants and that’s what show creator Dan Harmon really seems to be doing. His interviews are almost too candid. I feel for the man. I can’t imagine what his next interview will be like.

Oh, and one more thing. In the first season (by the writer’s own admission) the character of Britta was the weakest of the bunch. She was literally the plot device to get the whole thing started, but as the second season wore on and the actor, Gillian Jacobs, has been infusing more of her own personality into the part the character has swiftly become my favorite.

Anyway, good luck, Community. You are one of my favorite shows and in this business that’s something rare. I hope you get a fourth season… I bought the DVD sets which is about the highest compliment I can pay a show nowadays.

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