Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Compliment Case 3: Community

Though not a ratings success, Arrested Development was part of a beachhead of single camera comedies, and Community is one of its successors.

I’m not sure if I can make a case that AD inspired Community at all, but they both feel remarkably similar, both well tailored to my tastes. I like their fluidity, their cinematic structure, their cracked sensibilities, their characters, and their densely layered allusions, but there is one thing I appreciate above all else. If there’s one thing that sets me off like nothing else, it’s the sense I’m being sold something I don’t want—on the average sitcom, that’s the laugh track. I don’t like being told when to laugh, or when not. That’s a pretty facile reason to like a show, but it’s the part that represents the whole. These are just shows that do things my way, and that’s a pretty comforting thing to find.
            The difference between the two is a matter of era. Starting in 2003, Arrested Development remains a pretty cynical show (perhaps a bit of Seinfeld-era hangover). There’s a lot of ironic distance from the characters, and even scorn. Though Michael invariably returned to his family at the end of every episode, there usually wasn’t a sense that he did so out of any sort of decency. At the end, he abandons them to their fates—the right choice, no doubt, hilarious, and the perfect end for the show, but not really uplifting. Community, on the other hand, doesn’t maintain much ironic distance from the characters, even though, ironically, it looks like it is. If I were a pretentious ass, I’d call it “post-ironic”—sincere, yet knowing how dopey sincerity is, yet not caring.
            Also, “Modern Warfare”. All that needs to be said.

No comments:

Post a Comment