25 thoughts I had while watching Community for the first time

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 13: Actors Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Joel McHale and Allison Brie attend the "Community" Press Room during Comic-Con International 2012 held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel on July 13, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 13: Actors Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Joel McHale and Allison Brie attend the "Community" Press Room during Comic-Con International 2012 held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel on July 13, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) /

Since Community now streams on Netflix, a first-time watcher puts the series to the test and reacts to the pilot episode.

Between the years of 2009 and 2015, it was almost impossible to not encounter the online cries from Community fans for six seasons and a movie. Since basically the day the comedy premiered on NBC post-The Office during a period of struggle for the network, the series was something of a perennial bubble show. Fans rallied to save their fave from ratings slips and showrunner shuffles.

But throughout that time of #sixseasonsandamovie campaigns and constant Community praise, I never gave the show a shot. (Suddenly, I’ve realized I was part of the ratings problem.)

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Sometimes, you assume you’ve missed the on-ramp for a cult hit and stick to what you know. Well, now that six seasons are streaming on Netflix and we’re waiting on a movie, I’d like to not miss this on-ramp. Here are 25 thoughts about the pilot episode from a Community first-timer.

1. Here we are at Greendale Community College, where the dean gives an accidentally offensive speech that’s supposed to be uplifting. From the jump, this place is a total, comical mess.

2. How did Jeff practice law without a legitimate college degree? That seems more like a failing on multiple systems than a “haha, got you!” on Jeff’s part.

3. He’s wearing a sweatpants and blazer combo. You have to love how television pilots use visuals to flesh out characterization. Waiting for his outfit to be used as a joke against him. (Update: It never was? What a missed opportunity!)

4. “If I wanted to learn something, I wouldn’t have come to community college.” For a show called Community, it’s not really working to form a community around community college students (so far). The tone has been set to dunk on the perception of community college for easy jokes.

5. Jeff posing as a Spanish tutor to—let’s be honest—try to sleep with Britta is disgusting? Like, I already don’t like him, and we’re barely 10 minutes in.

6. I love Gillian Jacobs, so I naturally love Britta. However, (cue eye rolls) you can just tell she was written by a man. Right now, Britta is the edgy “cool girl” stereotype. She’s smoking AND she calls it like she sees it?! *eyes become hypnotized swirls, jaw falls agape, and tongue unravels onto the floor like a cartoon character*

(6.5. I’m interested to see what Jacobs does with the character, though!)

7. The study group has multiplied thanks to Abed, who I’m prematurely hypothesizing will do a lot of scene stealing (unless he’s annoying like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory… sorry to alienate the Big Bang fandom so soon).

8. I wasn’t sure if Jeff could be topped as the Most Unlikeable Character in the Community pilot, then Pierce stood up and opened his mouth. (Although, if either of these characters were played by Mindy Kaling, I’d be on board. I don’t know what that says about me.)

9. Okay, wait, hold on. Pierce getting confronted for sexually harassing Shirley?! Suddenly, I’m popping some popcorn and pulling up a chair to this study group. You love to see a toxic old white man have to reckon with his awful behavior.

10. …and it goes nowhere.

11. Oh, my god. Abed quoting The Breakfast Club to break the tension. The best possible payoff from the many—manyBreakfast Club references.

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12. Once again, Jeff leaves the study group to score a semester’s worth of test answers. We’re supposed to hate him, right? I’m not watching this wrong, right?

13. Where is this Shark Week monologue going?

14. This is an Alison Brie and Yvette Nicole Brown stan forum. Just wanted to get that out there up front.

15. (Gillian Jacobs, too.)

16. No, no, no, NO! Britta, do not fall for this speech. Don’t find Jeff’s morally compromised leadership charming!!!

17. Not a huge fan of the trope in movies and shows where the scumbag does scumbag things, but then the scumbag does one nice thing and we’re supposed to bat our eyelashes and say, “Aww, scumbag, you actually have a heart!” I don’t think the scumbag in question has earned this particular moment, even if it’s not fully meant to redeem Jeff. *steps down from soapbox*

18. Oh, hell YES, Britta!!! She admits she lied to Jeff about going to dinner with him, called him a lying creep (she calls it like she sees it!), and tells him to not let the door hit him on the way out. Okay, I embellished the colorfulness to kicking him out, but you get it.

19. Sincere apologies to Britta (and Gillian Jacobs!) for ever doubting her.

20. Now he’s leveraging the answers to the test to stick around. There comes a time when the unlikeable character’s severe lack of self-awareness becomes funny and… this could be it.

21. Whoa, what he said to Abed was truly reprehensible. I gasped at the same time as Britta. How did that line make it into a shooting script and onto air? (Actually, it’s the second horrible line that’s been pointed at Abed in this episode.)

22. Laughing about how Asperger’s sounds… How old are Pierce and Troy?! (I remember Troy and Abed becoming a fan-favorite duo, which seems hard to conceptualize from the pilot because Troy hasn’t been given much more than a one-dimensional introduction.)

23. THE FOLDER OF TEST ANSWERS IS FULL OF BLANK PAPERS! JEFF GOT GOT! Excuse me, I have to uncontrollably laugh for the rest of my life.

24. I can get behind this. I can get behind Jeff being taught lessons in order to change his ways. How successful Community will be at following through with reversing toxic masculinity, I’m not sure. But I’m optimistic!

25. The study group meets back up outside. Even though he doesn’t deserve it, they invite him back to the group, and Abed apologizes for calling him Michael Douglas. I’d like to think that Jeff learned something from his experience in the pilot and realizes he needs this group of misfits more than they need him.

Consensus: If I had watched the Community pilot in 2009, I have to be honest, I more than likely wouldn’t have kept watching. But now that I’m a fan of its talent and have distance from its more off-color writing, I can forgive a clumsy pilot in favor of a worthwhile binge.

There’s a throwback to the 30 Rock era element to the series that makes the viewing experience comforting. I may not be clamoring for that movie yet, but give me six seasons, and I just might join the movement.

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All six seasons of Community are available to stream on Netflix and Hulu.