By Kelly Harrass
Community outdid themselves with this week’s episode, Remedial Chaos Theory. It showed that they’re the smartest comedy on TV; sadly it also showed that it won’t ever have the audience that shows like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory have.
If you know me at all, I’ve mentioned Community to you at least once, if not a lot more times than that. It quickly became one of my favorite shows. It has a fantastic cast, it makes me laugh more than any other show, and it turns the sitcom format on its side, cuts it open, and examines the insides.
In a sitcom landscape dominated by sarcasm, irony, and mockumentaries, Community manages to stand out as being genuine. I don’t know how to better explain what I mean by that, but if you watch Community, I think you’ll understand what I mean. It has a sincerity that’s missing in most other comedies.
This week’s episode did something that I’ve never seen a sitcom do before; it showed the same scene seven different times because the scene would play out seven different ways depending on the roll of a die. I’ve said it more than once since the episode aired, it was perfect in every way. The jokes ranged for funny and lighthearted to incredibly dark. The show could have easily gone badly or been boring, but it managed to be one of the best in the series’ history.
The concept was brilliant and ranks up with Community’s other top concept episodes like the paintball episodes and the clip show that showed clips from non-existent episodes. In between all of the laughs and timeline switches they managed to pack in some great character moments. Sadly, most of them aren’t a part of the series’ continuity, but I believe that they might have given us a bit of a peek into this we might see in the future. The character work is one of the main reasons I love the show so much. The characters are always growing and evolving. They aren’t the same people that they were when the series began. They aren’t caricatures of stereotypical people, they feel like real people. We could know any of them in our own lives.
These evolving characters are one of the things that makes Community different. It’s too often the case on episodic comedies that the characters say the same from the first episode to the final episode and everything is resolved by the end of each show. Community is probably the most serialized comedy on TV now. That’s both good, because it sets it apart, and bad, because it’s a hindrance to bringing in new viewers.
Episodes like Remedial Chaos Theory also hurt the ability to bring in the mainstream audience. There’s a good percentage of American’s that wouldn’t have understood what was going on in the show. Hell, it even took me a little while to understand what was going on. At this point though, I don’t think Community is trying to bring in the mainstream audience anymore. They know who’s watching them and they’re writing for that audience.
I wish more people watched Community, but for that to happen they would have to change what they are and that is being one of the best shows on TV, comedy or drama.