TV Review: “Community,” Season Two

Written by Television, TV Reviews

Community is back for a second season with awkward kisses, Betty White, and more hilarious study group antics.

What’s great about Community is that it is geared towards people like you and me—people obsessed with TV. The NBC comedy that follows a diverse study group at a community college takes everything we know and love about TV and movies, turns it on its head, and brings us something fresh. What started off as an okay first season quickly became one of the most innovative. By the paintball episode “Modern Warfare,” Community had restored my faith in television when I wasn’t even aware it had been wavering. And the finale did what we’ve come to expect from the meta, pop culture laden show: take a typical TV trope such as a first season finale kiss from the will-they-won’t-they couple (Jeff and Britta), and give it to someone else (Annie).

As Community returns for its second season, the love triangle between Jeff (The Soup’s Joel McHale), Britta (Gillian Jacobs), and Annie (Alison Brie) is front and center, but have no fear. Abed (Danny Pudi) assures us that the show will be moving in a new direction, one more focused on comedic antics than relationships. Abed’s commentary clues into some of the more absurdist aspects of this show and Glendale Community College, but is more importantly a storytelling device that frees the show from extensive exposition and development to make more room for quick one-liners and amazing moments like the most awkward kiss we’ve been waiting for between our okay-they-won’t Jeff and Britta.

The transition from romance storyline to group antics is an easy one as Jeff and Britta try to one-up each other with their declarations of exaggerated love. And, as hilariously portrayed in a series of scream/squeals, Annie now finds Jeff revolting. Ah, back to square one. Except, this time it’s a little different. As Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos) so aptly points out, the first season was built on Jeff wanting Britta, and needing the study group to help him get her. Now, there’s no denying the friendship between these characters, and Jeff’s genuine care for them, which frees the second season to do something not every show can do successfully: tread new ground.

New ground for Community involves Betty White drinking her own urine, which in comparison to Betty White’s appearances on screens big and small in the past year, is actually quite refreshingly respectable. And in the second episode, we see Jeff’s origin story, involving douche bag lawyers, Drew Carey putting a coin through his hand, and a perfect chloroforming sequence.

The new pattern for the second season seems to be developing around heartfelt end-of-episode confessions from our leading anti-hero, Jeff, topped with group gags and near misses on expanding the study group for a little spare Chang (Ken Jeong).

All around, a promising start to the second season of Community, a show that of course should have a bigger fan base. Although as Abed would tell us, the underground feel is what maintains it’s appeal, and keeps the show from jumping the shark. But with the promise of riffs off of Apollo 13 and a classic-style stop motion animation Christmas episode later this season, I’m not sure what could possibly knock Community down.