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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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?
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