Monday, April 26, 2010

Community, the Best Comedy on Television

I can't stop watching Thursday's episode of Community. This show is really firing on all cylinders right now combining brilliant pop-culture parody with lovably weird characters. Set among a Spanish study group at Greendale Community College; a small, not very well regarded school; Community has created a surprisingly rich tapestry to tell its stories with even minor background characters like "Leonard" and "Starburns" getting their moments to shine. As for the main cast of characters, they all seem to be searching for either redemption or acceptance. Jeff, the disbarred lawyer; Pierce, the ex-CEO who has never really had or wanted friends until now; Britta, the embittered slacker; Shirley, the recent divorcĂ©e; Annie, the overachiever and former pill-popper; Troy, the immature dumb jock; Abed, the pop-culture loving kid who can't seem to connect with "normal" people—at times the show feels like Lost with robot jokes.

While Thursday's episode continues Abed's obsession with movies and TV, it also shows a strong emotional edge as Abed finally finds a way to connect with people by getting them to all speak the same language—"chicken." Abed's inability to express himself and connect to people has been a running theme all throughout the series. In the pilot Jeff speculates that he has Asperger Syndrome. Abed's father is constantly frustrated by his son's oddness and only comes to accept his behavior when he explains it through a movie that he makes. So while Abed does insist that he has "self-esteem coming out of my butt," he definitely has a serious problem dealing with other people. Thus when he gets his opportunity to relate to people through his control of Greendale's popular chicken finger snacks, Abed takes it and runs with it. But this connection is tenuous and it is easy for him to see that it will disappear when people get tired of the chicken fingers. That's an awful lot of character development to put into a half-hour show and still manage to squeeze in a brilliant mob-movie parody and a lesson for Jeff on the consequences of exploiting your friends for your own gain.

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