Not a lot of my friends have seen Community. The critics like it enough. Bits of social media conversation have sprung up occasionally, individuals commenting on an episode here and there. One friend claimed it was the “best show on television right now.” I wasn't sure what that meant, because “right now” could mean that nothing else good is on or that something better may be around the corner. From what I gathered, this series got bundled with other shows, but wasn't a “must see.”
When I went to watch it, I was hesitant. While many are fans of Chevy Chase, I am not. I've seen him in movies, caught snippets here and there of the Vacation movies, but over all, he's never really wowed me. I've found people put him in a similar category to that of Bill Murray and Steve Martin, and although this critic finds no fault with enjoying the entertainment your parents do, I tend to fall neutral on the matter (although let it be known that my preferences lie with Murray and Martin, in that order). You shouldn't love or hate something just because everyone else does, nor should you necessarily judge an actor based solely on previous works. So I decided to put my opinion of Chase behind me and get down to watching the show.
The show initially appealed to me, because I've been to community college. I fit there, because I was working, covering my basics, and trying to figure it all out. In this way, the show really gravitates towards that. It has your types: overachiever with issues, jock who couldn't score a regular college, the crazy old man that no one wants to be in a group with, the empty nester, the socially awkward one, and the charismatic/jerk leader. They don't have majors yet. They're all different ages, but they all need to study and a shoulder to lean on.
Expectations vs. Reality
I expected Parks and Recreation or The Office (quirky) meets Glee (heart, emotion) minus the uncomfortable humor, drama, and singing. Not as dry and awkwardly funny as the former two, not as intense as the latter. Yet, it wasn't really any of those things. I watched part of first season, not sure how I felt, then moved on to some of the “best” episodes. The cast is a quilt of misfits led by an ex-lawyer, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale). At the beginning of an episode, the set up is pitched, and then the gang either gets into a fight where they have to amend the breach by the end or they all get mad at one person and that person has to make apologies. Or both.
Half the characters are unlikable outright. She bristles to the touch, he's nails on a chalkboard, etc. The characters that are likeable aren't likeable enough, and no one is extreme enough to be funny in a terrible way or lovable enough to be funny in a wonderful way. They come off as cardboard cut outs waving in front of a screen. None of the cast that I've seen in other roles (Alison Brie, Ken Jeong) break out of their comfort zone. Which means that if you like these actors, perhaps you'll like them when they show up and almost read from the script onscreen. I do love Ken Jeong's character and Donald Glover who plays Troy (especially in the Halloween episode). It feels like the actors aren't acting, just talking (with the exception of Abed, the uncomfortable Indian obsessed with pop culture). Note: I just found "Best of Troy" on Youtube. I think I'm good for all I ever need to see of Community.
The episodes that are funnier than others are either borrowed from other movies or shows, and the funniest scenes do not make up for time lost. While there are other shows that frequently borrow or downright steal from other shows/movies, they make it really funny. Even when borrowing, the show still isn't great. Which is a shame.
This nearly humorless, waste of a time slot show is not something I would recommend to people. Quite possibly, I don't get the humor. The writing style is not meant for me. If you see clips of the show, and you like it, then more power to you! I have seen clips of the show I liked, and there are two scenes that make the time I did spend watching the show almost worth it. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. If you choose to take a chance on Community, I hope you fair better than I did.