Not Your Normal Community

communThrough the years, there have been several situation comedies. But a half-hour comedy set in a community college has not been successfully attempted until now. The premise is ripe for pop-culture references that are humorous and come from an intelligent place in “Community,” a new sitcom on NBC.

Dan Harmon does this by having an episode open with an inept speech to introduce the students and faculty of Greendale Community College. There’s the ex-jock who threw away his scholarship, the 20 something ready to turn her life around, the older mother who’s trying to put her life back together and the old man who is trying to keep his mental faculties from betraying him.

We then have Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), who is in a pretty unenviable position. In order for him not to be stripped of his law degree, he needs to get a degree from a legitimate college. It is Jeff who unwittingly holds this wayward group together: If this sounds like “The Breakfast Club,” it is and then some.

Jeff’s attempt to be alone with Britta (Gillian Jacobs) brings these people together to form a Spanish study group. Individually, the students of Greendale are funny; together, the chemistry between them is laugh-out-loud hysterical. McHale, known for his sarcastic humor on “The Soup,” barely tones it down, but the direction of Anthony Russo make his antics work – particularly in the scenes with Dr. Duncan (John Oliver), where he attempts to convince him to give him the answers for all the tests he’s taking.

McHale and Chevy Chase as the old man are the obvious standouts in this show. However, there are several other characters that bring a comedic, quirky flair to the table. After being on recurring status for several shows, Danny Pudi finally has a chance to flex his comedy muscles. His scenes with McHale alone make the show worth watching. The remainder of the cast also gels with their telepathic timing. Chemistry can either kill a series or help it thrive – this ensemble definitely shines brightest together.

Essentially, there is something and someone for the audience to relate to and laugh at. Fortunately, in the age of DVRs and Internet television, “Community” will definitely find and keep an audience.

enablingWith a sensational start, only the pinnacle of wit is expected from Dan Harmon’s new series, “Community.” Undeniably led by the rakish Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), the characters of NBC’s latest half-hour sitcom entertain and compel, drawing more than a series of boisterous chortles from their audience.

In an attempt to woo the standoffish Britta (Gillian Jacobs), Winger feigns a study group. Little does he know that the wily wench legitimizes it behind his back.

After initially using his expertise at manipulation, honed through years in the courtroom, to start an all-out verbal brawl between the respective members, the law-degree “revokee” immediately soothes it in an attempt to impress the unimpressed.

And impress-failure certainly ensues on Britta’s behalf.

Aside from a cornucopia of witty exchanges, “Community” marks Chevy Chase’s long-awaited return to the small screen as Pierce, a decidedly creepy old man without a proper understanding of “sexual harassment.”

Although McHale and Chase steal the show thus far, latent potential crackles from the base of the remaining cast. This contemporary, re-envisioned “Breakfast Club” hides under the veil of stereotypes, though their stories cast a shade of doubt at simplicity – particularly due to the killer wit.

Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) may bear the sorrowful cross of the back-to-school-mom, but her sweetness is offset by subtle explosions of anger. Annie (Allison Brie) is a driven young girl, though her underlying neurosis has already become partially apparent.

All right, so they are stereotypes – but they’re funny and as far as half-hour sitcoms are concerned, “Community” graduates with honors.

-Olga Privman

About Donna-Lyn Washington 597 Articles
Donna-lyn Washington has a M.A. in English from Brooklyn College. She is currently teaching at Kingsborough Community College where her love of comics and pop culture play key parts in helping her students move forward in their academic careers. As a senior writer for ReviewFix she has been able to explore a variety of worlds through comics, film and television and has met some interesting writers and artists along the way. Donna-lyn does a weekly podcast reviewing indie comics and has also contributed entries to the 'Encyclopedia of Black Comics,’ the academic anthology ‘Critical Insights: Frank Yerby’ and is the editor for the upcoming book, ‘Conversations With: John Jennings.’

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