The Community Exile


October 4, 2012 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas


I wish I could love Community, the sitcom that plays on NBC on Thursday nights, I really do.  I can’t though and so the closest thing that I can come to enjoying the show on any level is by hating it.  I may very well be wrong, but I don’t believe that hate is the opposite of love; in fact I think that they come from a similar place.  How else can you explain why exes usually hate each other after years of purported love?  The real antithesis of love or hate is apathy.  If love and hate are the extreme manifestations of emotion, well than the opposite has to be no emotion, which is exactly what apathy is.  Then again you are reading the thoughts of a hyper-opinionated person.[1]

I must confess, when I first heard of the concept of the show I was immediately skeptical as I thought the entire premise of the show was just to make fun of community colleges and Chevy Chase.  As it turned out I was only half wrong.[2]  I also thought Joel McHale’s character was the typical cool guy who really doesn’t give a shit but still somehow gets what he wants in the end.  I’ve always hated this stereotypical character; it’s why I can’t stand Two and a Half Men.  Charlie Sheen’s character represents that to a tee.  He’s a stupid one dimensional character who does all the cliché “cool” things and gets rewarded for that.  There’s no growth, the character is a one trick pony.  That’s what I thought Joel McHale would be.  I was wrong about that too.  His character does actually learn throughout the show and is actually reluctant to lead the group.  He even resists the urge to be that one dimensional cool asshole that all the other characters to make him become at various points in the series.  However, for some reason I was still unconvinced about the show despite the fact that I laughed at some of the jokes.

During the second or third episode of season one I realized what it was, I just failed to comprehend it until over this past summer.  I realized that all the jokes I was laughing at no one else got, and that the jokes that everybody else was laughing at, I just didn’t think were funny.  I met other people who watched the show and they only laughed at the jokes that I didn’t think were funny.  I immediately thought to myself that this show wasn’t for me then, if everyone else laughed at all the trite and vapid jokes instead of all the subtle pop culture references that I found to be amusing.  As I said, it wasn’t until this summer that realized what the true comedic integrity of the show really was.  The best jokes of the series are the pop culture jabs and under the breath one-liners, and not the offbeat oddities of Abed, or the stupidity of Pierce.

No one else but my best friends picked up on the Beetlejuice meta-joke that ran through the first three seasons.  No one else understood what Jeff meant when he said “Flavor Flav was right” after he got off the phone with the police in episode “Epidemiology”.  The fact that Annie lost her virginity while listening to “Erotica” by Madonna was pure genius of the part of the writers.  Those are the kinds of jokes that the show is about, not the overt ones like Ken Jeong teaching Spanish, or Pierce desperately trying (and failing) to fit in and seem cool.  What makes the last part funny is that Pierce tries to be the Charlie Sheen character, the one who acts like a badass because that’s traditionally what’s been considered cool.  For Pierce it fails miserably because everyone knows that that is what he’s trying to do and they dislike him even more for it.

Community was made for people who are obsessed with pop culture, and like to have some semblance of intellectualism in their comedy.  That’s what I can appreciate about the show, however, I can never be a part of it because it’s been so misconstrued and bastardized by the vast majority of the people I know who watch it.  The show is for me, but it can now never be mine because everyone has laid claim to it, and for the wrong reasons.  I’m not saying that people can’t think it’s funny even if I don’t like all the jokes, but to so miss the point about the show ruins it for me.  That’s what makes Arrested Development so great; people who watched the show understood it.  No one watched it for the wrong reasons.[3]  Everyone got the subtle jokes and the strong sense of continuity that allowed for many gags to take place.  Community is the exact same way except it’s more accessible than Arrested Development.  This though leads to people watching it and only laughing at the face value jokes, which as I’ve said isn’t where the true strength of the show lies.

I can’t lay a claim in the show because of the fact that it’s already been taken away.  I’ve mentioned some of the jokes I talked about before only to have people stare blankly at me, not having any clue what I was talking about.  I got into an argument with some guy who vehemently insisted that the Beetlejuice meta-joke wasn’t a part of the show.  Because I would resent being associated with those who just watch it mindlessly, I not only have to not watch the show, but I have to dislike it too, because it’s so much more than most people see it to be.  It’s not a mindless show, like Two and a Half Men, but it’s apparently been mistaken as one.  Just know that if I could watch Community I would, I’m just much too proud to give in at this point.

[1] But you already knew that

[2] You know which half I was right about

[3] I guess that explains why the show always struggled in gaining viewership

2 thoughts on “The Community Exile

  1. Ofer Ozery says:

    I know this isn’t what this post is about, but I just have to ask… What did Jeff mean when he said “Flavor Flav was right”?!?!?!

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