Will Community have a lasting legacy? If so, what will it be? The show that introduced us to Donald Glover and Alison Brie? The show that Chevy Chase was on? A messy, sometimes brilliant sitcom slathered in the detritus of pop culture? The show that the Russo brothers worked on before becoming the go-to directors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
I watched Community when it aired. I was intrigued by Chase’s return to TV, though I did not know Dan Harmon’s work at the time. It’s brilliant at its best, unfortunately boring at its worst. The show was chaotic on screen from time to time, and also off screen. That’s a story that evolved, though. The first season was more straitlaced, though it did get into being the reflection of pop culture we all came to admire.
I have decided to rank every episode of Community season by season. First up, season one, which eased into itself by being a traditional sitcom before breaking free. Time to rank!
25. “The Art of Discourse”
24. “Basic Genealogy”
23. “Interpretive Dance”
22. “Introduction to Film”
21. “Environmental Science”
20. “The Science of Illusion”
19. “Communication Studies”
18. “Social Psychology”
17. “The Politics of Human Sexuality”
15. “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited”
14. “Romantic Expressionism”
13. “Home Economics”
12. “Advanced Criminal Law”
11. “English as a Second Language”
10. “Football, Feminism, and You”
9. “Physical Education”
8. “Spanish 101”
7. “Investigative Journalism”
6. “Comparative Religion”
5. “Introduction to Statistics”
4. “Debate 109”
3. “Beginner Pottery”
2. “Contemporary American Poultry”
1. “Modern Warfare”
Oh man, he days when a network sitcom would air 25 episodes in a season. This is a very-good season of TV. None of the episodes are bad, though “The Art of Discourse” pushes it. That’s the one entirely-skippable episode of the season. On the other hand, a lot of these episodes end up falling into the “fine” category.
After the first seven episodes of these rankings I had a hard time doing the rankings, because there were just a bunch of episodes I didn’t feel strongly about. It was a lot of, “Yeah, that one is pretty good, I guess.” And yes, I went the “obvious” route with my top episode. I don’t care. “Modern Warfare” is great. It’s an excellent action movie parody. At the time it felt dynamic. It’s still a ton of fun to watch. I had forgotten about the mob movie parody “Contemporary American Poultry” until now, but it’s almost as good.
Those kinds of episodes would come to define Community. In the first season, they were rarer. That helped them stand out, and to give me a reason to be excited for Community.