Audacious, weird, and icily ironic, Community was a kind of geek alt-comedy portal, packed with science fiction references, in-jokes that quickly metastasized into their own alternate universe, dark conspiracy-tinged humor, and a sharp yet loving deconstructions of the sitcom genre. At the same time, it also turned into a thoughtful and heartfelt rumination on loneliness, identity, and purpose.
The story of Community is the story of the evolution of American comedy. Its creator, Dan Harmon, was an improv comic with a hyperbolically rapid-fire and angrily geeky style. After getting his shot with Community, Harmon poured everything he had into a visionary series about a group of mismatched friends finding solace in their community-college study group.
Six Seasons and a Movie: How Community Broke Television is an episode-by-episode deep-dive that excavates a central cultural artifact: a six-season show that rewrote the rules for TV sitcoms and presaged the self-aware, metafictional sensibility so common now in the streaming universe. Pop culture experts Chris Barsanti, Jeff Massey, and Brian Cogan explore its influences and the long tail left by its creators and stars, including Donald Glover’s experiments in music (as rapper Childish Gambino) and TV drama (Atlanta); producers-directors Anthony and Joseph Russo’s emergence as pillars of the Marvel universe (Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War); and Harmon’s subsequent success with the anarchic sci-fi cartoon Rick and Morty.
Covering everything from the corporate politics that Harmon and his team endured at NBC to the Easter eggs they embedded in countless episodes, Community: The Show that Broke Television is a rich and heartfelt look at a series that broke the mold of TV sitcoms.
Chris Barsanti is the author of several books on pop culture, including What Would Keanu Do?, The Sci-Fi Movie Guide, Filmology, and (with Brian Cogan and Jeff Massey) Monty Python FAQ. A member of the National Book Critics Circle and Online Film Critics Society, he covers graphic novels for Publishers Weekly and has also been published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, PopMatters, Film Journal International, and the Chicago Tribune.
Jeff Massey is an Associate Professor in the Royal English Department at Molloy College in Long Island, New York. He is the co-author of Everything I Ever Needed to Know About _____* I Learned from Monty Python and co-editor of the collection Heads Will Roll: Decapitation in the Medieval and Early Modern Imagination. Dr. Massey holds advanced degrees in both medieval and classical literatures, with a particular interest in mythology and monstrosity; werewolves are his specialty.
Brian Cogan is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Molloy College. He is the author of The Encyclopedia of Punk and co-author of Everything I Ever Needed to Know About _____* I Learned from Monty Python, and has also written numerous articles on punk rock, comic books, and the intersection of politics and popular culture.