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From the Couch: “Community”

Originally published in the November 5, 2010 issue

Over the course of my Voice career, I’ve written about various TV shows. Recently, two shows that I praised – one that I even developed a strange love for after only two episodes – were canceled shortly after I wrote about them.

Coincidence? I think so. Others, however, think differently.

This time, though, I’m taking a gamble and writing about a show with poor ratings that I love, and hopefully, it will have the reverse affect, attracting millions of viewers all from one little column.

Simply put – I watch an obscene amount of TV and have always been a fan of sitcoms, especially those done right. “Community,” airing  Thursdays at 8 p.m.  on NBC, certainly does.

Debuting last fall, “Community” has easily sprouted not only into one of the best sitcoms on TV right now, but one of the best programs.

With many sitcoms, more so than dramas, a show takes time to grow and develop, allowing both the writers and actors to get into a groove and rhythm. The more each learns about one another, the smoother and sharper a show can be.

Fortunately for “Community,” it didn’t take long for everything to click. Unfortunately for “Community,” even as the jokes piled on, viewers slowly disappeared.

At first glance, it seems like a stereotypical show with stereotypical hijinks performed by stereotypical characters – the old man, the mother figure, the jock, the nerd, the over-achiever. Each trope has been used over and over again, and the novelty from these dried up shortly after the Brat Pack’s glory faded.

Centering around douchey former lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) and his study group-turned-friends, “Community” could easily veer into a standard college storyline, but instead elevates to a new level of comedic greatness.

Most of the show’s triumphs ride from the cast, with McHale’s charisma, Chevy Chase’s (Pierce) unparalleled ability to turn creepy into endearing and Alison Brie’s (Annie) cute, know-it-all naivete. Even the bromance, which is easily the most overplayed dynamic in recent memory, between jock Troy (Donald Glover) and nerd Abed (Danny Pudi), has an original, yet odd, spin on it.

Part of the reason that “Community’s” lack of success is so mind-blowing is its approachability. While it’s certainly not the lowest-common-denominator entertainment that dominates most of the top shows out there, it doesn’t have as much of the intellectual complexity of past critical darlings. There’s even some potty humor! (Sample quote: “He told me girls have two pee-holes.”)

Even with some sophomoric gags, it meshes with more mature jokes and well-developed plot lines.

Really, all I can do is ask you to watch the show. If it is cancelled after this column, the blood will not be on my hands.

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