Sort of by accident, I saw an episode of popular NBC Thursday night sitcom Community the other day. I found it excruciatingly awful. Because it's ashamed to be a sitcom, it's done in that obligatory Office, fake doc, palsied-cameraman, "shot how humans really see!" style. And it stars Joel McHale, whom I know some smart, funny folks actually like, but whose prick persona rubs me every wrong way. He's the bestubbled motherfucker on The Soup, which is also an enraging smugstorm. I used to like Talk Soup in the Kinnear days, though if I were to revisit those I'd probably find that they weren't much different in tone than the McHale version, so I'm not pulling a "I like the early stuff better" nostalgia card.
Community's humor rests on meanness, silent-shocked reactions to AWKWARD faux pas, and an endorsement of Liz Lemon-style Sarcastic Modern Uptightness. Anything that doesn't pass the SMU test is an "other," not only goofy and mockable but worthy of scorn and contempt. Based on that one episode, Community seems like everything annoying about Arrested Development, minus what wasn't. Like that show, the pop culture references are frequent but unassailable because JUST left-of-center and not completely Rip Taylor-outrageous. One of the community college kids in the show was obsessed with LeVar Burton in the one I saw (the actor made an extended cameo). I like Chevy Chase, of course, and wish he weren't on it.
I have trouble articulating what bothers me about NBC Thursday Night brand comedy (30 Rock's alright with me), and I'm also kind of tired right now. Comedian Eddie Pepitone, in this clip, says it better than I can. I quote below, then the video:
These kids run out on this stage... and bang - they’re on fucking Parks & Recreation.. Fuck them.. and fuck Parks & Recreation as well.. which is so fucking boring I want to kill myself and my family, if I had a family.. I do not have a family, but if I did I would murder them in front of Parks & Recreation. When they’re talking to the camera about the other characters in the show, and you realize life is such a vapid whirlpool of nothingness.