Thursday, July 1, 2010

An American Community

Before I get into today's post (don't worry, it's not about Pokemon), I wanted to provide a few descriptions of people whom you may or may not have come across in your lives. Look over them, and keep them in mind as you continue through this post:
  • A high school star athlete who lost a scholarship due to alcohol abuse
  • Someone who can only express their feelings and relate to others through television and movies
  • A divorced mother who must now raise her family on her own
  • A wealthy man who has been married multiple times
I want to discuss a new show on NBC that just finished it's first season: Community. For those of you who have not seen it, I highly recommend you check it out (I have provided links to its Wikipedia page, streaming episodes on Hulu, and to its trailer on YouTube). In the current NBC comedy style, the show has no laugh tracks, and features and ensemble cast with numerous minor characters. To provide a very brief summary, the show centers around Jeff, a former lawyer who, after being suspended over the illegitimacy of his degree, is forced to attend Greendale Community College. There, he enrolls in a Spanish class and joins a study group in hopes to get closer to his classmate Brita. The study group includes Abed, an aspiring film director who is socially awkward, Shirley Bennett, a divorced single mother, and Pierce, a baby boomer who's not afraid to speak his mind.

Do these descriptions sound familiar? Of course, these are not the only members of the study group (I just provided a few for the sake of time), and they each have their own unique background. While watching this diverse group of characters interact with each other is undoubtedly funny, I feel that Community can be taken to another level by proposing that is provides us a unique perspective into the future of American society.
If one looks closely enough at the Spanish study group, they could understand my reasoning for viewing them as a model of America. Yet as I looked closer at each characters, I noticed that each of them could be viewed as either having qualities or backgrounds that are looked down upon in this country. I would find it hard to believe that you didn't think badly of any of the descriptions I provided at the beginning of this post. I admit that if I looked at them without any prior knowledge, I would have felt the same way, which brings me to the question: why do we look down upon these people?
To put it simply, I feel that the lives and experiences of the characters on Community pose a threat to traditional American values. When one thinks of the ideal American family, an image of a mother, father, two or three children living in the suburbs is not uncommon. Similar to the spread out posts of Pokemon, I will over several posts discuss the characters of Community, and how they undermine traditional American values. I emphasize the word traditional because I feel that at the same time Community offers us a perspective into the future of our nation. Despite their backgrounds, each of these characters, from the selfish Jeff to the outrageous Pierce, have their good qualities, and it is these qualities we must learn from if we are to move forward as a nation. This is where I will end for today, and in case you're wondering, the first character I will discuss will be Pierce, played by Chevy Chase (and please check out these links, I guarantee you won't regret it!).

Community page on Wikipedia

Community trailer:

Hulu link:

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