Premiering in 2009, "Community", created by Dan Harmon, stars a fantastic cast of actors, portraying characters from very different stations in life, as they all come together in the hopes of receiving a higher education (well... "medium" education is more accurate) at community college. Though each character is very different, and many don't seem like the types to hang around with one another, the seven leads eventually come together, first starting as a study group, before blossoming into a sort-of family.
Joel McHale (E!'s "The Soup") stars as Jeff Winger, a lawyer who has returned to college on a deal to keep himself from getting disbarred- if he can earn a more legitimate degree (his previous degree was not from Columbia University, but rather, an illegitimate degree from Columbia the country), he can return to his former law firm. He's cocky, smarmy, and exploitive at times. He starts the series as a self-centered jerk, for lack of a better description, but over time, has calmed down and opened up a little more.
Gillian Jacobs portrays Britta Perry, a fellow classmate whom Jeff has on-again, off-again feelings for. Britta is a strong-minded and strong-willed woman, with concrete (if not sometimes asinine) beliefs, thought she often hides the fact that she can be sensitive and vulnerable. She's the voice of reason, arguably, but she's also a darned great character, and doesn't fall back on clichés at all.
Danny Pudi (in an outstanding performance) plays Abed Nadir, a pop-culture aficionado, who also seems to have some social and minor mental difficulties (Jeff says he has Asperger's Syndrome at one point, and as someone who has the condition, I'd say he was probably spot on), but is also fairly intelligent and can "read people" very good, even to the point where he can predict people's behavior slightly. He wants to be a filmmaker, and spends a lot of his time referencing movies and TV shows, and directing student films.
Yvette Nicole Brown plays Shirley Bennet, an older woman who has returned to community college to start her life anew after her husband left her. She's a very kind woman, and a devoted Christian (which occasionally causes problems with the group's diversity), though she has gossiping problems as well.
Alison Brie plays Annie Edison, a strong-willed but insecure young woman who just graduated High School. She was very unpopular in the past, and sees community college as a second chance at making friends (and getting close to Troy, her crush). She was formerly addicted to Adderall, but has turned her life around following rehab. She's the bookworm of the group, and tries a lot harder than everyone else, but hides many insecurities common for people her age.
Donald Glover plays Troy Barnes, a former football star who had to stop playing following an injury. He's a bit rambunctious, and has a simple sense of humor. He becomes best friends with Abed, and they spend much time together. Short clips featuring the two of them close every show.
And finally, Chevy Chase plays Pierce Hawthorne, a moist-towelette heir... member of a Buddhist Cult based around obscure concepts and "levels" (Guess which trendy Hollywood "religion" that's parodying!)... Very racist, but never with poor intentions... Seeing himself as more talented and valuable than he is much of the time... And physically awkward, setting up for a lot of slapstick gags. This character is perfect for Chevy. Need I say more?
Every actor on the show is exquisite (with Pudi's performance being my personal favorite- no disrespect to the others), and each actor really transforms into the character. They all gel perfectly. They all work perfectly. This is one of the best comedy casts I've seen in a long time. The show also features actors such as Jim Rash, John Oliver and of course Ken Jeong in recurring roles as staff members, and each one gives a great performance as well.
The show is quite smart, and well written. Characters are fleshed out and developed in a naturalistic way, and the situations often build off of that. Also, it's interesting in that the college (the infamously bizarre Greendale Acadamy) itself seems to become a character in the show.
"Community" has just the right combination of realism and obscure outlandishness. As insane as the show can get (and it gets pretty insane), it never "jumps the shark." Everything still seems grounded and real in it's own cartoonish way.
It honestly doesn't surprise me that the Russo brothers produce this show. When I first started watching it, I got a small hint of "Arrested Development" (the best TV comedy since "I Love Lucy", as far as I'm concerned), many episodes of which were directed by them, and when I found out about their involvement here, it made sense.
Similar to "Arrested", this is a fantastic show. It's smart and put together, and is a prime example of modern TV comedy done right. It's one of the best TV comedies of the past 10 years, and my favorite show on TV now. A perfect 10 out of 10 from me.
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