Cool cool cool…
Where Community stands out is that there is method to the madness, a real purpose behind the zany gags, odd characters, and hilarious parodies. For Harmon, the show is all about exploring the power of community. In a captivating Wired article, Harmon explains in his studies of story structure from Joseph Campbell, he breaks down an episode’s narrative to these eight steps: 1) a character is in a comfort zone; 2) but they want something; 3) they enter an unfamiliar situation; 4) adapt to it; 5) get what they want; 6) pay a heavy price for it; 7) then return to their familiar situation; 8) having changed. Harmon says he obsesses over this model; every point must be covered.
That template could work with nary a nod to the concept of community. But not for Harmon. He employs it to show why this study group would stay together despite its quirks and differences, how it decides who can be involved, and how it changes the members — for better or for worse.
This is where Community leaves a lasting impression. It‘s easy to talk about “community” only in shallow and positive terms — how helpful it is in promoting growth, teamwork, and so on. We are often inclined focus only on the Hebrews exhortation to keeping meeting and encouraging and loving one another. But Community has the courage to go deeper; to admit that, sometimes, community stinks. It is hard.