By Melissa Camacho,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
College comedy's wit trumps some stereotyping.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series highlights the importance of community, however you define the term. There's plenty of snarky humor (some of it based on stereotypes), but underneath the punch lines are positive messages about friendship and getting an education. Additional themes include communication, self-control, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Jeff's choices aren’t the most ethical, but he often dispenses bits of wisdom to his fellow students. The other characters are all humorously flawed, too, but most mean well (with a few exceptions, but they're clearly meant to be the "bad guys" of the show). The people attending Greendale CC are from all walks of life -- though the show's humor often relies on stereotypes about community college and the people who attend them.
Violence & Scariness
Occasional pushing and shoving, with people occasionally getting a black eye as a result. Shirley sometimes makes violent threats, but she doesn't act on them. Some episodes have featured extended paint-ball battles, with action movie-like violence, but it's all over the top and played for laughs.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirting, kissing, innuendo, and suggested hook-ups between adults. Other sexual content includes underage "sexting." Pierce occasionally sexually harasses his fellow students.
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Words like "douche bag," "crap," and "ass" are audible.
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Products & Purchases
References to popular items like the iPhone, as well as to tons of other TV shows, movies, and pop culture touchstones.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At least one character smokes cigarettes. There are also references to drinking, and in at least one episode, characters get drunk (drinking shots, beer, and more). One student is a recovering prescription drug addict; in at least one episode, a cast member trips out on a drug that's presumably Ecstasy.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Community -- a sitcom about a motley crew of community college students -- has plenty of sexual innuendo and stereotypes about community colleges and those who attend them, but it also has messages about the importance of friendship (and, secondarily, pursuing an education at any age). The main characters make plenty of iffy choices, and they're all flawed, but they're also a strong group of friends who support each other through thick and thin. Expect some salty language ("crap," "ass," etc.), occasional cigarette smoking and drinking, exaggerated violence played for laughs, and tons of pop culture references and jokes.
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What's the Story?
COMMUNITY centers on Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), a sharp-witted lawyer who finds himself at Greendale Community College after his degree gets revoked. Hoping to attract the attention of fellow student Britta (Gillian Jacobs) while scoring some easy As, Jeff forms a Spanish study group that unexpectedly brings together an eclectic group of students -- including pop-culture junkie Abed (Danny Pudi), hippie-turned-businessman Pierce (Chevy Chase), middle-aged divorcee Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), neurotic perfectionist Annie (Alison Brie), and former high school jock Troy (Donald Glover). Things tend to get a little crazy, especially when the group goes up against Chang (Ken Jeong). But as Jeff learns that street smarts don't replace book smarts, he also finds himself getting a social education.
Is It Any Good?
Created by the directors of Arrested Development, this well-written series successfully mixes traditional sitcom humor with some of the quirky social interactions made famous in The Breakfast Club. It's also mildly edgy thanks to the way the humor plays off of stereotypes associated with community colleges, the professors who teach there, and the people who attend them.
The members of the study group are far from perfect, but buried within the jokes is a positive message about the importance of getting an education at any age, as well as the importance of friendship. It's definitely funny, and ultimately, Community manages to score high marks.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether it's ever appropriate to use stereotypes to create humor. Why or why not? How are stereotypes used in Community?
Would you consider the characters role models? Are their relationships realistic? How do they change over the course of the series? What do they learn?
What's the difference between a community college and a university? What are the benefits of attending one or the other? Disadvantages?
How do the characters on Community demonstrate communication, self-control, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?
- Premiere date: September 17, 2009
- Cast: Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Joel McHale
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Character Strengths: Communication, Self-control, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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