On its surface, “Community” is a show about the adventures of a dysfunctional study group through the lens of pop-culture parodies and meta-humor. Upon further investigation, you will find an experience rich with character development, dynamic storytelling and — quite possibly — the best writing of any television program. Dan Harmon’s creation is the perfect blend of sizzle and steak.
All six seasons are now available to stream on Netflix as of April 1. If you missed out on this gem when it first premiered, now’s your chance. Here are the top 10 episodes of “Community,” ranked.
10. “Basic Human Anatomy” (Season 4, Episode 11)
While season 4 simply did not have creative zeal of seasons 1-3, “Basic Human Anatomy,” written by Jim Rash, gave the Freaky Friday formula a new coat of paint. Donald Glover’s impersonation of Danny Pudi’s character, and vice versa, is truly one of the highlights of the show.
9. “Pillows and Blankets” (Season 3, Episode 14)
The bread and butter of “Community” is raising the stakes in an otherwise low-stakes situation. No episode did this better than the Ken Burns mockumentary of the war between “Blanketsburg” and “New Fluffytown.” The sheer creativity of this episode warrants it’s spot on this list, and there’s something that feels so authentic about the text exchanges between Jeff and Annie over soft trumpets.
8. “Cooperative Calligraphy” (Season 2, Episode 8)
A meltdown over a lost pen sparks a bottle episode like no other. The study group’s trust in each other is compromised through a hilarious interrogation process that evolves from the emptying of backpacks to the removal of clothing. The “Winger speech” that is used to close episodes is as iconic as it is wholesome. This episode puts a smile on my face that sticks no matter how many times I watch it.
7. “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (Season 6, Episode 13)
The series finale is as hard to watch as it is rewarding. The cast looks quite a bit different from the first episode, but the core idea of the show remained consistent throughout. Having friends that you are willing to fight for is what “Community” is all about. The final meta-monologue equating the study group’s relationship to that of a TV show was all the closure I needed and more. One of the best series finales television has to offer.
6. “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” (Season 2, Episode 14)
The study group attempts to cheer up a depressed colleague by playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons with him. Chevy Chase’s disdain for the show is well documented, but that does not diminish his performances in season two. Chase deserves a retroactive Emmy for his diabolical character work in this episode.
5. “Basic Lupine Urology” (Season 3, Episode 17)
There’s committing to the bit, and then there’s Basic Lupine Urology. If you are a “Law & Order” fan, you will be blown away by the dedication shown to the source material. When someone sabotages the study group’s biology yam project, the investigation begins. From the dialogue, to the camera angles, to the fade to black on commercial, this is how homages should be. The plot is childish, yet taken so serious to the point of being gripping.
4. “Modern Warfare” (Season 1, Episode 23)
Choosing the best paintball episode of “Community” is like choosing a favorite child; There should never be a right answer and you should never be asked to choose, but at the end of the day you’re still probably picking the first one. Season 1 was good up until this point, but this episode sent the show into the stratosphere of creative artistry. The other paintball episodes in later seasons may have refined the formula, but nothing comes close to the original.
3. “Critical Film Studies” (Season 2, Episode 19)
Centered around a surprise “Pulp Fiction” themed birthday party party, this episode is a cinephiles dream. Danny Pudi’s performance in this episode is nothing short of spectacular. There’s a nuance to his confidence that is such a departure from his normal character. The “My Dinner With Andre” inspired conversation is one of the single most wholesome moments of the entire series.
2. “Contemporary American Poultry” (Season 1, Episode 21)
It’s a “Goodfellas” homage based around chicken fingers. What more do you want from this show? The superpower of “Community” is its ability to cram a movie worth of content into 20 minutes of screen time. This is the best homage to classic cinema in the series.
1. “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Season 3, Episode 4)
This isn’t just the best episode of “Community,” it’s the seven best episodes rolled into one. A simple housewarming party turns into an exploration of the multiverse when with the roll of a dice. The slight differences and change of interaction between characters was brilliantly done. Everything that there is to love about the show is featured in this episode.
Why are you still reading this? Just watch it.
Kyle Helie is a senior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.