- Community season 1 lacked comedic execution, sticking too closely to typical sitcom tropes and focusing too much on Jeff’s character development.
- The season 2 premiere, “Anthropology 101,” signaled a shift away from Jeff’s story and demonstrated why Jeff and Britta were not right for each other, paving the way for a more diverse and comedic show.
- By changing its focus and allowing the entire cast to shine, Community was able to explore different genres and provide viewers with hilarious parodies and insights into each character’s psyche. The decision saved the show and set the stage for a highly anticipated movie.
When it was at its peak, Community was one of the funniest shows of its time, but it was the season 2 premiere that changed its trajectory and cemented the show as a classic. Even today, it’s considered one of the 2000s sitcoms that have aged surprisingly well. Dan Harmon’s comedic genius, combined with the production value provided by the Russo Brothers, made Community one of the funniest modern satires. However, anyone who has watched the show in its entirety could see that it stumbled right out of the gate. While season 1 was not bad, it was far from great despite clearly having all the ingredients of a hilarious sitcom on its hands.
Over time, the show started to put it all together toward the end of its first season. However, because the direction toward the end was a noticeable contrast from the direction in which it was going when Community season 1 started, the show had to signal to viewers that this new path was better than the old one. While better episodes had come out beforehand, Community season 2’s premiere, “Anthropology 101,” signaled that all hands were on deck for the show’s new direction, ultimately saving the series.
For the record, Community‘s first season had moments of great comedy. The Duncan Principle, Chang’s introduction, and Pierce writing Greendale’s new song are considered among the Community main characters’ best scenes. The show demonstrated its potential, but season 1 felt like it lacked something; its biggest sin was that it was too normal. Despite its talent, the show followed the typical sitcom tropes to a tee, with the only difference being that it all took place at a community college. By following the sitcom’s typical guidelines, the show seemed like it didn’t fully know how to execute its comedic side.
The issues can be attributed to making Jeff the focus above everyone else in season 1. Despite Community being one of Joel McHale’s best movies and TV shows, making Jeff’s character development the show’s main storyline limited the comedy because of how typical of a TV trope that was. Again, season 1 was beginning to figure it out as it winded down, as “Contemporary American Poultry” and “Modern Warfare” are among Community‘s funniest and most rewatchable episodes. However, despite the show finding its footing with those episodes, Jeff’s becoming a better person was still season 1’s A plot until the very end, which did not mesh well with the two hilarious parody episodes.
Jeff’s romance subplot with Britta got plenty of screen time in season 1 because Jeff developing a rapport with her after initially trying to sleep with her symbolized his personal growth. When she confessed that she loved him in season 1’s finale, “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” only for him to leave and then kiss Annie made for quite a cliffhanger. However, Community season 2’s premiere, “Anthropology 101,” showed precisely why they were never right for each other. Better yet, it showed that even if Jeff improved as a person, he’s still not really a good guy.
Initially, Jeff and Britta appeared headed to be another addition to the best will they/won’t they romances on TV ever conceived, but that all died when Jeff’s misdeeds with Britta and Annie came to light. Going this route demonstrated clearly that Jeff was much worse than the typical leading man viewers were used to seeing. Doing so signified that they would abandon Jeff’s development as the show’s A plot. Even though “Anthropology 101” isn’t typically considered one of the show’s best episodes, it represented Community‘s turning point. Plus, for what it’s worth, the legendary Betty White’s lone appearance in Community made her one of the best Community characters to appear in only one episode.
By no longer making Jeff’s development the show’s sole focus, Community managed to be a show that avoided the season 2 sophomore slump. On top of that, turning away from Jeff’s development allowed the show to do whatever it wanted, thus making a noticeable improvement. By focusing on the cast as a whole instead of Jeff, the show was free to make itself funny from every angle through the multiverse, mockumentaries, or love letters to certain films. Even though Community peaked with its grade-A parody, the show’s satire also gave viewers a peek into each character’s psyches. As an unexpected bonus, McHale played Jeff much better once the show asked less of him and spread out the focus.
Jeff would become a better person over the course of the show when he embraced the study group as his family. Still, initially making his story the show’s major plot point proved to be an obstacle since it held Community back from being the show it soon realized it had to be to live up to its potential. Even if it took a minute, it was better late than never, and season 2’s decision to go this route paved the way for Community to have a very well-hyped movie on the way.