Community (TV series)

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Fandom
Name: Community
Abbreviation(s): none
Creator: Dan Harmon
Date(s): 2009-present
Medium: television
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMDB, Official series page on NBC
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Contents

Community is a US comedy about a group of lovable misfits who are students at a community college.

Canon Summary

Community is an NBC sitcom about a group of diverse students at the fictional Greendale Community College who form a study group which eventually becomes a surrogate family for its members. The show centers on Jeff Winger, a lawyer who enrolls in Greendale after being disbarred for faking his undergraduate degree.

In the pilot episode, Jeff accidentally founds a study group while attempting to seduce Britta Perry, a cute girl in his Spanish 101 class. After Jeff lies to Britta about being a “certified Spanish tutor[1]”, she shares that information with Abed Nadir who invites several other students to join the group. These students are Annie Edison, Troy Barnes, Shirley Bennett, and Pierce Hawthorne. Following the pilot, the group quickly becomes friends and the series is built around their many zany adventures.

Breaking the Fourth Wall and Fandom Shout-Outs

Community, its stars, and its creator are known for frequently breaking the fourth wall and making references to fan activities and media tropes.

Dan Harmon, the creator, uses his twitter account to interact with fans and makes no secret about his knowledge of fannish works. A major shout-out was to the vid Gravity (Jeff/Annie). Dan Harmon said it was "great editing" in a tweet. The specific vid was then parodied in an episode [2]. The parody is controversial among fandom, but has come to be broadly accepted. This is because Dan Harmon stated in the DVD commentary that he spent $30,000 of his own money getting the rights to use the same song used by veritas724 (Gravity by Sara Bareilles), which he claimed he would not have done if he did not love his fans. Dan Harmon also stated that the scene was a "homage" and "sincere thank-you note," an explanation veritas724 accepted.

Another example proves that he is familiar with other aspects of fandom genre:

@danharmon: Learning so much lingo. Hey, Abed/Troy shippers, here's some slash: Once upon a time, Abed did it in the butt with Troy. The end!

His twitter feed is also the source of at least one joke that appeared in the show. After Community won a fan favorite poll on Hulu, beating Modern Family and Glee in successive tournament rounds, Harmon received the following text:

@amyfairycakes both Modern Family and Glee are streets ahead of your meta bullshit

Harmon found the phrase “streets ahead” very amusing, believing it to be a neologism invented by @amyfairycakes, and proceeded to reference it frequently on his own account. He even went so far as to create a public service announcement documenting the rising popularity of the phrase. A few weeks later[3], Pierce was seen on the show trying to coin the phrase (“streets ahead is verbal wildfire”) while the other characters discussed its origin and meaning[4].

The characters of Community also have twitter accounts, which are active and referenced in the show. Even Troy’s pet monkey, Annie’s Boobs, has a twitter account. Prior to the season two premier, fans could follow a twitter exchange between the characters which set the stage for the upcoming episode.

The show references and often parodies common media tropes, including buddy cop shows, zombie movies, post-apocalyptic stories, westerns, Star Wars, and mafia movies. The character Abed is usually responsible for these references, as he is shown to have a fannish background (he runs a Cougar Town fan community[5]). Abed has canonically referenced the episodic nature of Community, including commenting on the characters' involvement in a "bottle episode"[6].

Community has a special relationship with the US sitcom Cougar Town, referencing it in several episodes during the first few seasons as a show Abed enjoys. Cougar Town reciprocated when a character on that show mentioned his love for the Season One Community DVDs. The mutual love affair between the series got serious in the season two episode of Community Critical Film Studies, during which Abed mentions his involvement with the Cougar Town fandom and how it led to an invitation for him to be an extra in an episode. Several weeks later, Danny Pudi (the actor who plays Abed) was indeed an extra on an episode of Cougar Town. Two actors from Cougar Town later had cameos in the season two finale of Community. In the season three opener, Abed laments the fact that Cougar Town has been moved to midseason, but quickly becomes fascinated with Cougarton Abbey, the British predecessor of the American Cougar Town.

Abed also enjoys another British show, Inspector Spacetime, which is an obvious spoof of Doctor Who, and which has recently developed its own fandom.

Fandom Activity

The pilot episode of Community aired in the US on September 17, 2009. One day later, the first LiveJournal community, Community TV, was created (and it continues to be one of the main hubs of fannish activity, with 3510 members[7]). Since that time, Community has developed into a small but active fandom.

Community has a vast number of active communities on LiveJournal, dedicated to everything from individual characters and specific pairings to icon-making, fanfiction, challenges, and graphics. The Community fandom has its own Kink Meme, a Spanish-language community, and will complete its first Big Bang in Summer 2012.

As of January 2012, there are 494 stories in the Community archive on fanfiction.net, and 276 on AO3. Community has been small enough to qualify for Yuletide every year since it began airing, but has been among the most popular small fandoms included in the exchange. In 2009, the first time Community was eligible for Yuletide, 11 stories were written for the exchange. The following year the number jumped to 20, and the next year 26 Community stories were written for Yuletide 2011 (making it the fandom with the 3rd highest number of fics that year). Two Community stories were among the top 20 most popular stories in the collection that year, and Community was one of only 6 fandoms to have 10 or more stories in the Yuletide collection in 2010 and 2011[8].

The Community fandom also has a strong presence on Tumblr, where it has its own TVTropes blog and several blogs dedicated to clips from (and news about) the show.

Pairings

Community is a multishipper's dream. The cast is overwhelmingly attractive, and the episodes often touch on the romantic possibilities of various character combinations. As Jeff puts it in an early episode, "unlike a real family, there's nothing to stop any one of us from looking at any of the others as a sexual prospect[9]". There is obviously nothing to stop fans from exploring those sexual prospects as well, which has resulted in fan communities celebrating nearly every possible permutation of couple.

The m/m fandom for this show is primarily Abed/Troy, aided by the show's Xena-style subtext in its treatment of their bromance. The m/f fandom is less OTP-oriented, but is heavily Jeff/Annie, a pairing around which canon dances. There is a very small f/f fandom, heavily oriented around Britta/Annie. Minor pairings include Abed/Annie, Jeff/Britta, Jeff/Shirley, Troy/Britta, Troy/Annie, Abed/Britta, and the OT3 of Abed/Annie/Troy (which has gained a lot of popularity since the three characters began sharing an apartment in the third season).

Tropes and Fanon

There are many common themes and tropes running throughout the works produced by Community fans. For example, many fanworks share the naming convention used in canon, wherein titles are meant to sound like the names of college courses. The Community fandom also has a great many fusions and crossovers, carrying on the canon habit of involving the study group in genre homages. Fanworks are often very self-aware and may include meta references to the TV-like experiences of the characters, or to tropes being used within the story. Many fanworks also continue or expand upon recurring 'bits' from canon, for example Troy and Abed's morning show (Troy and Abed in the Morning), or the characters' hatred of the glee club (a reference to Glee).

Anti-cancellation Fan Activism

In December 2011, NBC announced that Community would not be on the midseason schedule. Fans were quick to react, using Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook campaigns, as well as gatherings in some major cities, to protest the decision. Hashtags #sixseasonsandamovie (which echoes Abed’s hopes for the duration of the defunct NBC show The Cape), #saveCommunity, and #occupyNBC were soon trending topics on twitter[10]. Fans created posters and other graphics to rally support[11]. A “Save Greendale” PSA featuring Community cast members showed up on CollegeHumor.com[12]. And on December 22, 2011, fans gathered en masse outside NBC studios in New York to “Occupy NBC[13]” while wearing “darkest timeline” felt goatees[14] and singing “O, Christmas Troy”[15].

Fan criticism

The show constantly skirts the edge of embarrassment squick. Additionally, it skirts the delicate border between showing racism through irony, and that form of ironic racism which is itself racist. Many of the fans who are drawn to a show with a strong ensemble cast that is 3/7 women and 3/7 people of color, including canonical relationships between two people of color and a major character with a probable disability, are the same kind of fans who will notice when ever the show crosses the borders in its representation of women, people of color, queerness, etc.

Notable Fanworks

Fics

Vids

Resources

Communities

Dreamwidth

Livejournal

General

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Archives

References

  1. Community Season 1, Episode 1 Pilot
  2. Community Season 2, Episode 21 Paradigms of Human Memory
  3. Community Season 1, Episode 21 Contemporary American Poultry
  4. http://earnthis.net/2010/04/community-is-streets-ahead/
  5. Community Season 2, Episode 18 Critical Film Studies
  6. Community Season 2, Episode 8 Cooperative Calligraphy
  7. as of January 3, 2012
  8. http://yuletide.livejournal.com/1068742.html#cutid1 Yuletide 2011 Statistics
  9. Community Season 1, Episode 15 Romantic Expressionism
  10. http://theweek.com/article/index/221477/community-pulled-from-nbcs-schedule-the-backlash
  11. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/11/see-three-save-community-posters.html
  12. http://blog.collegehumor.com/post/13877495840/collegehumor-exclusive-save-greendale-with-the
  13. http://www.nerdist.com/2011/12/occupy-nbc-sings-to-save-community/
  14. in reference to ‘’Community’’ Season 3, Episode 4 ‘’Remedial Chaos Theory”
  15. originally sung by Troy and Abed in the tag to ‘’Community’’ Season 1, Episode 12 ‘’Comparative Religion’’
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