Before I get started, I must say that these are two of my favorite shows on television right now. They’re both smart and funny, but there are certain things that make one good and the other one quality.
Six reasons why Community is better that The Big Bang Theory:
- It is nerdy; it isn’t about beingnerdy.
There is a major, if not a little subtle, distinction here. True, TBBT is about geniuses who love nerdy things, but how do they show them doing the nerdy things? Usually using conventions that aren’t quite up to reality. When playing a role-playing game near the end of the first season of TBBT, the group sits around a table, rolling a D6 and moving their pieces around a game board. That’s one type of role-playing game, but on Community, when they play Dungeons and Dragons, they play the game like it was supposed to be played: epically. It’s the difference between showing and doing, and while Community may not talk about being nerdy, it definitely is. TBBT says it’s nerdy, but underneath, it’s a pretty straightforward sitcom.
- Multiculturalism. Sure, TBBT has some different ethnicities present, but not really. Even Raj’s primary language is English. On Community, you have an Asian who teaches Spanish (albeit for a brief time), a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Laser-Buddhist, a Jehovah’s Witness, an athiest, and an agnostic all sitting around the same table week in and week out. To me, that’s real multiculturalism. And the Dean… Whatever that means…
- Chevy Chase. ‘Nuff said.
- In a war between Abed and Sheldon, I would avert my eyes. I love these two characters, and the fact that both of these shows have a strong character who has a hard time relating to “regular” people is a testament to how many weirdos there are in the world these days. That being said, I find that Abed has much more empathy for other characters from the start of the show, and it’s much easier to identify with him than with Sheldon, in my humble opinion. Of course, Sheldon’s got his moments (when he hugs Penny for the first time in Season 1, that was brilliant story-telling), but Abed’s Season 1, Episode 3 movie about his parents was touching. (And he gets to say “cool cool cool”)
- No laugh track on Community. I think I’m finally getting burnt by the artificial quality of the laugh track. While it doesn’t seem as out of place as it does on M*A*S*H, it interrupts the narrative flow for me, especially when that one obnoxious laugher gets going in the audience… The lack of a laughtrack also gives Communityanother whole level of complexity to deal with. In the Season Three episode, “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux,” the use of the documentary style steady-cam allowed for greater use of the fourth wall as narrative component, which is something that is difficult to do when you know that there is an audience out there, ready to laugh at a moment’s notice.
- NBC > CBS when it comes to alternative viewing practices. Sure, TBBT has better Nielson ratings, and sure, maybe their online strategy has something to do with it (Moonves and the rest of CBS have been notably resistant to put their shows on Hulu and Netflix: here is an article that explains part of the reasoning). I get it; I truly do. Dan Harmon has some nice points about some of the old reasoning and why Community got shuffled around on his blog (here). And while we’re at it, let me just say that I think that CBS is missing out on an opportunity by not giving more of the show away for free, but whatever. They have the show in syndication already, and it still gets crazy ratings, so what do I know? But whatever the reason, it still stands that CBS holds out a little too long. More and more people are doing away with cable boxes, and they better be ready for the impending switch.
So I know what I’ll be doing tonight: watching Community. Well, by watching, I mean that I’ll be watching it over the airwaves, recording it in SD on our 4-months-remaining-’til-we-get-rid-of-our-cable box, and putting it on Hulu tomorrow. I don’t have a Nielson box, so I’ve got to do all I can to make it seem like lots of people are watching.
Off to the biblioteca!