Community: NBC's New Show No Laughing Matter

NBC recently announced its Fall line-up includes a show titled “Community.” As NBC execs. describe it, the comedy is about a group of quirky “losers” at fictional Greendale Community College. The four minute promo video will give you a good sense of just what “Community” is all about. It’s predictably silly, but there is some stinging truth to the description of the populations that one finds enrolled at the local community college. 
NBC is touting the comedy as a “smart show about higher education.” Of course, there are ruffled feathers within Academe. The president of the American Association of Community Colleges was quoted as saying, “I would just hope that some day, people will feel like it’s unacceptable to make fun of community college students. Just because we don’t have the exclusive admission standards that Harvard has doesn’t mean that you should feel free to make fun of our students….”
Come on! Community college faculty make fun of their students all the time. Hell, all faculty love to tell those stories. You know the ones. The stories about students who cook up incredibly transparent and ridiculous excuses to get out of work, exams, study groups, etc….Stories about students who demand passing grades for simply sitting their fannies in their seats. Stories about the bone-heads who think community college is an extension of high school.
Just check out some of the Daily Excuses on AdjunctNation.com. 
Frankly, I think NBC execs. are on to something. In the 70s, we had “Welcome Back Kotter.” High school losers the lot of them, and we could totally relate to them. Well, over the past three decades,  community college has become college-lite, a two-year extension of high school. We’ve got the Sweathogs from Welcome Back Kotter as they pursue higher education.
“Community” is a commentary on higher education that those teaching at community colleges ought to be able to relate to without much effort. The writers of “Community” have, obviously, been eavesdropping in the Faculty Lounge and the Adjunct Office. The show might tank, but not because the message or stereotypes are off the mark. It could die from a simple lack of interest in most things related to higher education on the part of the 18-30 crowd.

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2 Comments

  1. Before leaving the teaching profession to become a freelance writer in the college textbook publishing field, I was an adjunct instructor at Butte College and Shasta College, two community colleges in northern California.
    There was a stark difference in the quality of the students there compared to the ones in the courses I was a TA for during graduate school at UC Davis.
    However, I had some incredibility bright and motivated community college students.
    I hope the show is a success, even if it does make fun of community college students. It will draw attention to community colleges and the opportunities they offer.

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