Community is Streets Ahead
Last year, three shows came out competing for best comedy newcomer award: Glee, Modern Family, and Community. In the beginning, Glee pulled away at the top of the class with its musical numbers, its distinct take on high school popularity contests, and some very balanced emotional weight. *Spoilers* The Sectionals episode, where Rachel has to save the day last minute and Finn finds out that his baby is not his baby was, in its own way, television epicness. Modern Family was like a refreshing remake of Full House bringing common familial decency back to television screens. And then there was Community, a show about a ragtag Spanish class study group.
From the outset, it doesn’t look like the show has a lot going for it. And when I say that it doesn’t have a lot going for it, I mean there are no dance performances and it’s not a mockumentary with a father named Phil Dunphy, who’s a shoe-in for Michael Scott. But whatever Community does, it does it well. I know that might sound vague, but maybe NPR could voice my thoughts…
Confidence. Community’s most crucial quality is confidence. It’s hard to demonstrate with any one scene, but there’s a very defined vision of what this show is supposed to be. They’ve embraced the idea of pop-culture references, yes, but they do it with sure-footed joy, not with the grasping sense that they want the laugh for the reference itself.
And they’re not shy of references. In the first season, they have had a Dark Knight episode, a Goodfellas episode, they’ve parodied Breakfast Club, amd they’ve made fun of Glee and Entrourage. While Glee reverts to high school melodrama as its default and Modern Family’s modus operandi is the sometimes boring day-to-day of family life, Community relishes in outright ridiculousness that rivals 30 Rock. And the epic ridiculousness gets better better. For example, check this latest preview of their next episode. It has the hype of Season 1 of Heroes.