The Brilliance of Community’s Writing

- Reviews

by Sean McMahon


Community was a sitcom that first aired September 17, 2009, and was created by Dan Harmon, who people may recognize as the co-creator of Rick and Morty. The show starts with lawyer Jeff Winger who’s just been fired from his job since the state bar found out his law degree was, in his own words, “Less than legitimate.” So, Jeff goes to Greendale Community College in pursuit of getting his job back, even if he doesn’t try to get through his education as “honestly” as he should. He forms a study group to get with a girl from his Spanish class, who’s coincidentally one of the other six main characters, Britta.

Unfortunately for Jeff, Britta knows what his game is, so she invites Abed, the “awkward” TV fanatic, to be a part of the study group. Britta also invited the other four main characters, Troy, Annie, Shirley, and Pierce. This is the basis for the entire show. The loose premise of 7 somewhat selfish and flawed characters going around and getting into weird situations somehow became a show that I really admire, and many people do.

The show has been widely acclaimed by fans, but I always felt that it was unfair that a show like Friends, for example, is more well known when, at least in my opinion, Community knocks it out of the park, specifically, with its writing.

Community’s writing has been one of the best parts of the show for me. From some cleverly written jokes to very engaging monologues and especially how they handle their parody elements, the show has some of the best writing I, and most other fans, have ever seen. This is best exemplified in what most fans agree to be one of the best episodes in the series: “Remedial Choas Theory.”

In Season 3, Episode 4, “Remedial Chaos Theory” has the study group going over to Troy and Abed’s housewarming party. They’re about to play a game when the buzzer goes off. It’s the food they ordered. None of them want to leave to go get the food, so Jeff comes up with a system. He grabs a die and says, “Starting on my left with one, if your number comes up, you go.” Abed responds with, “Just so you know, Jeff, you are now creating 6 different timelines.” Six different timelines were created by Jeff rolling the dice. The episode goes through scenarios of each character leaving the table to get the food. The timelines range from when Pierce leaves to get the pizza, nothing bad happens. The group actually seems a little better off. When Troy leaves, Jeff loses an arm and Pierce dies.

One of the things fans appreciate most about this episode is that it’s a dissection of each character’s place in the group. For example, in Timeline 5, when Abed leaves, the group basically falls apart. That shows how he serves as the heart of the group, as he’s arguably the most likeable character in the show, liked by both fans and the other characters. At the end of the episode when the group forces Jeff to leave, everyone starts having more fun while he’s gone, but it also represents how when Jeff isn’t in the group, they fall out of control.

Another example of superior writing is the continuity between the timelines. Stuff like Annie’s gun, Britta smoking weed in the bathroom, and Abed’s Indiana Jones rolling boulder scene replica all factoring into the other timelines. Most notably Timeline 1, which I won’t spoil.

I love Community and I encourage everyone to go see for themselves what makes this show great (skip season 4, though). Dan Harmon has a talent for clever writing, and I hope that shines through in the movie, if they ever get that ball rolling.

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