Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie at Comic Con

How Community changed my world

Or #sixseasonsandamovie

I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet and a journalist at The Sun once told me I’d discovered Stormzy (I hadn’t but I wrote some words back in the day). But I can’t always be cutting edge.

When it comes to TV shows I’ve probably missed the golden age of television. My friend lent me the first season of The Wire (in the days when box sets came in boxes) but I left it in the carrier bag and gave it back a few weeks later.

I didn’t watch Breaking Bad, only ever saw the pilot of Killing Eve, stopped watching 24 after I discovered it was going to be a much longer undertaking than just 24 hours and I haven’t watched Normal People – yet.

Yvette Nicole Brown by Gage Skidmore
Community is one of the best TV shows I have ever seen ( Picture of Yvette Nicole Brown by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore
What are Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie pointing at? Answers on a postcard please . . .
( Picture of Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Yvette Nicole Brown & Alison Brie by Gage Skidmore
Yvette Nicole Brown & Alison Brie share a joke at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International
( Picture of Yvette Nicole Brown & Alison Brie by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Mostly because I was either too busy being busy or not managing my time properly or watching repeats on Dave, desperate for laughter after another day of work.

But also because for most of my life I could think of nothing worse than sitting and ‘binge watching’ a boxset and then having endless conversations about it with anyone and everyone.

It was fate

One evening a few weeks ago changed all that. It was the evening I discovered Community – the show that changed my world.

For some reason, which I now recognise as fate I’d strayed into the categories section of the Channel 4 website and, intrigued by the teaser image and attracted to the woman in the picture, I clicked on the link for Community.

Later investigation revealed I was watching a show others had started watching nine years ago but it didn’t matter because it was exactly what I needed to get me through the first few weeks of coronavirus lockdown.

Joel McHale & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore
It’s not giving too much away to say Joel McHale’s character Jeff Winger has a thing for Britta Perry, played by Gillian Jacobs
(Picture of Joel McHale & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Joel McHale & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore
The cast of Community put their all into the show including working 16 hour days
(Picture of Joel McHale & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Joel McHale & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore
Community is much more than the will they? won’t they? relationship between Britta and Jeff ( Picture of Joel McHale & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )

I’d moved home at the start of lockdown – from a houseshare where there was always a friendly face to talk to into my own place where there is no-one. In the last two months I have had just two face to face conversations lasting for more than a minute. While I have vaguely met the neighbours I am not allowed to have anyone round so it’s just me and a (thankfully) decreasing sea of boxes.

I think this is why Community has resonated with me so much during this time. Each of the characters in the study group is working on trying to make the best of their situation and gradually overcoming uncertainties to find their way within the new world they are in.

In a way I can see a little of myself in all the central characters – from fighting for causes like Britta to wanting to please everyone like Shirley.

And Jeff has the body I wish I had (although I wasn’t loving the beard in later seasons) – if only I was better at exercising than I am at drinking lockdown wine.

Instead of Troy and Abed in the morning it’s Abed and Britta at the convention ( Picture of Danny Pudi & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
All of the characters reinvented themselves in some way but none more so than Ben Chang, played by Ken Jeong
( Picture of Ken Jeong by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Britta Perry, expertly played by Gillian Jacobs, is definitely my favourite character in Community
( Picture of Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )

They all spoke to me on so many levels and it became a much needed part of my lockdown routine – wake up, work, eat, work, run, talk to family and friends, watch Community.

Many levels is exactly right because although it is a comedy, Community is so much more than that.

Brought together by amazing scripts the 23 (or so) minute episodes rewrote the rules of TV every time. There was drama, spy capers, romance, forays into claymation, time travel and just outright brilliance.

And don’t even get me started on the epics of the paintball episodes – packing an action movie into the small screen in an awe-inspiring way.

It is one of the best TV shows of all time

There was one day where I didn’t watch any episodes at all but that just felt weird. Most days I’d find myself still awake at 1am being classy by eating crunchy nut cornflakes and watching ‘just one more episode’.

Within this timeline I remember the feeling of never wanting it to end – while scrolling through the Channel 4 page to see how many episodes I had left. Then one Tuesday it sadly came to an end at around 7.30pm.

Jim Rash was a veritable tour de force as the dean of Greendale Community College
( Picture of Jim Rash by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Danny Pudi watches intently as Alison Brie answers a question about her character Annie in Community
( Picture of Alison Brie, Ken Jeong & Danny Pudi by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Picture of Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore
Community broke the mould of TV comedy and, by doing so, changed the format forever
( Picture of Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi & Gillian Jacobs by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Now, looking back I’m still wondering what to do with myself – after the end of Community five years after it actually ended.

I’ve got a Greendale Community College t-shirt which I’ll wear with pride when the time is right and there is the episode readthrough to look forward to on Monday. A friend has also recommended I watch Schitt’s Creek.

But mostly I think I might embrace the world of box sets, join Netflix and see what else Gillian Jacobs has been in.

I’m looking forward to the world of discovery so feel free to send me your recommendations!