I thought I would take a break this week from me normally talking about how great Leicester is as a city,living the student life while at the University of Leicester and being a Media and Communications student and share with you an assignment I have had to do for the MS2008 module where we had to write a review for a television show that is a sitcom.
This is my favourite assignment of the year so far because it allows us to be creative with our writing, rather than analytical. This is the type of work you will be doing in second year. That’s not the only reason I’m sharing this with you, but because I legitimately love this show and I want to spread the word.
When we think of sitcoms, we tend to think of Friends (1994-2004) or Frasier (1993-2004). These shows were iconic in the fact that they were able to portray an accurate representation of individuals in a contemporary society. But in this modern day, with highly fragmented identities within society, can any sitcom repeat the mainstream success of other sitcoms in the past?
Community (2008- ) is a new, brash and sometimes outspoken sitcom about a group of misfits who are attending Greendale Community College from all walks of life. Typical characters such as the senile old man, the jock and the socially awkward geek are present which is archetypal of sitcoms, but are represented in unique, quirky and outlandish way in comparison to traditional sitcoms. Season One contains distinctive premises which work extremely well by playing around with generic conventions and teasing the audience by playing with their expectations within its heavily themed episodes around mafia control of cafeteria food and paintball wars.
Community draws on intertextual references from films and other television shows which work exceptionally well because the humour of the show is to be silly with itself but also, to be reflexive with certain characters and scenarios. In Modern Warfare, there are several references to the film 28 Days Later due to the apocalyptic theme of the episode and Abed (Danny Pudi), the self-proclaimed television guru, claimed that the relationship between Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is like “Ross and Rachel” from Friends. This play on intertextuality defines Community because it is overtly done to appeal to its target audience, which is a refreshing and humorous take on sitcoms.
Also, one main criticism of the sitcom genre is the lack of character development. Clearly, season one has shown that Jeff isn’t just a loveable ‘douchebag’ as evident from the pilot, but the annoying-always-correct-smartass guy who becomes the charm and essence of the show through his first year at Greendale that we eventually grow to like. A lot of the credit goes to Joel McHale, who does an excellent job at depicting his character Jeff.
While there seems to be a new golden age of sitcom with How I Met Your Mother (2005- ), The Big Bang Theory (2007- ) and New Girl (2011- ), what makes Community better than those sitcoms is the multitude of different characters and how they represent each one of us as viewers. Jeff is seen to be the token ‘douchebag’ while at the end of the day, he helps his friends out. Britta is seen to be a strong, independent character who falls for the wrong type of guy. Annie (Alison Brie) who puts on a brave face but has vulnerabilities and weaknesses. While the show isn’t necessarily realistic, all of these traits are relatable to the everyday viewer of the television show.
If season one is anything to go by, then NBC has struck gold with Dan Harmon (Executive Producer) and Community, showing a truly representative society where broken fragmented individuals come together to resemble a true microcosm of a contemporary Community.