IMDb rating: 8.9/10 with >30,000 votes
This is by far the best show that you're probably not watching.
Well, if you're involved in the feminist/anti-racist/genderqueer blogosphere, you probably are watching it, since I feel like the entire viewership of Community consists of the overlap in the Venn diagram of "gender/race studies nerds" and "TV/film studies nerds."
Or maybe just nerds.
Community is like an anthropological experiment in television. The episodes can sometimes be truly insane, in the did-someone-pull-a-Hunter-S.-Thompson-esque-binge-before-writing-this fashion, but on more than one occasion it's resulted in some really intense conversations with my like-minded friends about what TV really is, anyway.
For instance, there's one episode where, at the end of it, my best friend and I got into a really, really long conversation about whether or not the writers were just screwing with us. That particular episode paints the study group as maybe sort of terrible people, and J and I had suspicions that they may have been planning that all along, a sort of "Hey, everybody! Do you think you're nice? WELL HA, LOOK AT THAT, YOU REALLY LIKE THESE PEOPLE AND THEY ARE HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE ASSHATS!" It's like if you found out that Betty White was actually a cannibal, because you'd probably end up thinking, "Well, I'm sure she has her reasons. She seems so nice!"
One thing I really love about Community is that the one real string of continuity is the characters and the development of their personalities. I could Britta this whole post by loading it with spoilers about who they are, but in my opinion, finding out more about them is kind of the most important narrative arc of the show.
I could tell you about the paintball episodes, and how they're completely insane but also amazing and how closely one of them follows Die Hard (and let's not even get started on how Die Hard is the best movie of all time), or how Abed really loves Cougar Town and even appeared as an extra on Cougar Town one time, not as Danny Pudi, but as Abed, and that would not spoiler the show for you. But I kind of think that if I told you about the characters, it would.
This show has done everything ever. There's a claymation episode, there's a musical episode, there's an episode with a secret neo-Nazi, and even a Doctor Who parody, Inspector Spacetime, which completely illogically has its own fan tumblr despite the fact that it doesn't really exist.
Also, because you know I was going to get to this: This is a show on a major network, with a cast that is pretty evenly balanced gender-wise, a closer-to-real-life-than-pretty-much-all-TV-ratio of both race and religion (Abed is Muslim, Troy is a Jehovah's Witness, Annie is Jewish, Shirley is Christian, Britta's an atheist, Pierce belongs to some weird cult-type thing, Jeff is not religiously identified, I'm pretty sure? Holy crap, now that I write it all out, this is even better than I thought). There's even a character that dresses in drag pretty regularly, and in the beginning they sort of made fun of him for it, but then they just sort of accepted it, and that's pretty great. Mostly they're straight, but some are straight-ish, and I would argue nobody really knows what the deal is with the Dean, but anyway, amazing.
I think normally I'll try to pick some of the best quotes from the shows I talk about, but I'll let these videos speak for themselves (after the jump).
My friend Joe Lepore,
This last-30-seconds gem is just pure, pure awesome (ALWAYS REMEMBER, CHILDREN: YOU MUST WAIT FOR THE LAST 30 SECONDS.):
Joel McHale coopted nearly the entirety of the male cast of Community for his bid for Sexiest Man Alive: The Funny One:
"Balls, like a MAN."
And, good lord, the best mocking of the sexy-baby-talk thing, of, maybe ever?
Britta and Shirley, doing what they do best: