Time for television sitcoms

Reporter: Manjula Selvarajah

These days, television seems blessed with great dramas, littered with insipid reality shows and peppered with funny situational comedies. Community, a comedy debuting its fourth season on Oct. 19, is a bright light in that lineup.
The show focuses on the relationships between seven students who attend a community college. The main character is a vain former lawyer, now student, who has had his law degree suspended. In trying to seduce an attractive student by suggesting they form a study group, he inadvertently becomes part of a real study group made up of oddballs. Other members include an injured quarterback, a post-nervous-breakdown overachiever and a sleazy millionaire, played by the most recognizable name in the cast, Chevy Chase.
Sitcoms typically follow tried scenarios with slight variations. As an example, different takes on young friends living together in a city have given us popular shows like Three’s Company in the ‘70s, Friends in the ‘90s, and The Big Bang Theory which is now in its sixth season. This is not to say that they are not funny. However, their humour can sometimes be quite predictable and their draw can be something other than the comedic element.
Some fans of the show Friends seemed to relate very closely with the tribulations of their characters from the relationship woes of one, the employment difficulties of the other, to even the fertility issues experienced by two main characters on the show. The writers had managed to capture the stories of a generation within the show making the viewing experience an extension, albeit a funny one, of the viewers’ lives.
Community, meanwhile, takes a different track that could arguably be more challenging for a screenwriter to pen. You will not relate to these characters but you will grow to love them. They are absurd, and the situations they find themselves in, uncommon.
In Season 3 episode, titled Remedial Chaos Theory, the characters play a dice game and the show follows six dramatically varied outcomes for the dice landing differently. Though the simultaneous timeline concept has been explored on many shows, the writers still manage to produce an incredibly funny episode, a must-watch for newbies to Community.
It showcases the best part of this sitcom – clever dialogue, bizarre situations, a lot of laughs, and characters that you understand deeply, even if you do not see yourself in them.
Critics may snub their noses at the limited growth of the characters experience through the seasons or the lack of a deeper message that is a hallmark of classics like M.A.S.H. However, the writing is at par with some of the most cleverly written sitcoms on television.
Community has certainly had a bumpy ride. There were concerns that NBC would not pick it up for Season 4, which led to a large fan-led social media campaign calling for its return. Creator Dan Harmon was fired from the show in May raising some fears that the next season would not live up to expectations. If those fears come true, the only respite will be Dan Harmon’s response to his firing, a funny read which gives you a peek into the mind and creative prowess behind the show. It can be found http://danharmon.tumblr.com/post/23339272200/hey-did-i-miss-anything.
However, as it is said, hope springs eternal, and fans await the Oct.19 debut on NBC.

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