Friday, December 9, 2011

Why Community is the Lil B of TV Comedies

In class, Phil discuss Lil B as the epitome of the Hegelian Dialectic in rap. Lil B was both thesis, antithesis and synthesis of all the qualities of modern day rap. As I listened to his argument, I couldn't help but think of translating the Hegelian dialectic to other things in the entertainment industry, and it became clear that one thing, above all others, was what i like to call "The Lil B of TV Comedies."

The show Community, is an NBC comedy created by Dan Harmon that first aired in September, 2009. Since its creation, it has attracted a relatively small but extremely devoted fan base (read: exactly like Lil B). By examining Community's through the Hegelian dialectic, we can see many more similarities.

Thesis: The show, like all TV comedies, is made to make a very wide-ranging audience laugh. It is full of both current and past pop-culture references, generic character arcs and expected diversity. It is easily ingestible, not overly thought-provoking, uses a laugh-track frequently, and its episodes are always only 30 minutes long. By watching one episode the viewer can easily tell that the show follows the same generic mold as every other TV sitcom.

Anti-thesis: However, Community, while buying into the generic mold, does so only to make fun of the mold itself. The fringe characters especially, are over-the-top stereotypes of pop-culture. There is one character whose only words in the entire series are "Pop-Pop!", one character who plays the role of "dean of the school" so over the top that it makes you re-question the sexuality (and sanity) of every principal/teacher you have ever had, one character (Abed) who seems to know that the audience is watching the show, and serves as a "go-between" between the audience and the characters. In addition, there is no central character, even though one actor was much more famous than the others when the show began (Joel McHale).

Synthesis: The real beauty of Community, however, lies in its ability to synthesize the thesis and antithesis without seeming hypocritical. In fact, the synthesis itself often becomes a punchline or part of the plot of the show, allowing the audience to fully enjoy the relaxing feeling of watching "just another TV sitcom," while also never getting bored du to the unexpected intricacies of the show.

Overall, it is clear that Community, while not enjoying incredibly high ratings, is one of the best shows on television due to its embracing of its role as the Synthesis of the Hegelian Dialectic as introduced to me in this class. You should all watch it, it's HILARIOUS!

Alon Elhanan

No comments: