‘Community’ deserves better

Nick Scheuer

There are few shows on network television showcasing nerds in any sort of positive light and, as a nerd, this is incredibly frustrating and insulting. However, there is one show not only portraying nerds in a positive light, but actually celebrates the demographic – “Community.”

The NBC comedy follows a group of students at Greendale Community College and their experiences attending the school. Each of the six members of the group fit a specific community college student stereotype, while at the same time subverting those same stereotypes as the series continues.

“Community” is one of the best comedies on television right now, yet it gets little-to-no recognition, while patronizing shows like “Big Bang Theory” are nominated for Emmys. Where nerds are the entire punch line of “Big Bang Theory,” “Community” devotes entire episodes to nerd pastimes.

For example, in the second season, an episode titled “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” has the group play the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons with a minor character named Fat Neil in order to cheer him up from the bullying about his weight. D&D is shown not as a game for losers who live in their mother’s basements, but as an exciting and fulfilling experience for people of all ages and demographics.

The vast majority of media takes the other more common view on D&D in it is just a silly game no one, aside from socially inept nerds, would want to play. “Big Bang Theory,” a show often billed as showing nerds in a positive light, makes fun of the characters for spending their night playing D&D. Apparently, spending time with friends playing a game is not socially acceptable, according to this show.

“Big Bang Theory” is making fun of nerds, yet it is nominated for awards while “Community” has been moved to Friday nights, where television shows go to die. This asinine result demonstrates the writers know exactly what they’re doing; by making the four male main characters of “Big Bang Theory” each fit a nerd stereotype while making the fifth main character “normal,” the show lures in people from every demographic while making them feel superior.

It’s no accident the least educated male main character is also the “coolest” and the most socially competent, while the most educated male character is portrayed as an insensitive jerk.

The mainstream television audience is not interested in being challenged in their views, but they like to think they’re being challenged. This is why shows like “Glee” do so well even though it’s just the standard high school drama with singing and a couple stereotypically gay characters. If a show seems progressive on the surface, that’s all it needs to be successful, regardless if that front is actually true.

This trend could be changing right now, though. Films based off comic book franchises are wildly successful, video games are becoming mainstream and getting adapted into fairly successful films, one of the most popular book series ever is about witches and wizards, and if I were to approach someone at random on the street, it is likely they would know who Iron Man is.

Even though “Community” is on the verge of being canceled and should have far more viewers than it does, its existence in the first place is a sign of progress. Perhaps the season four premiere on Oct. 19 will show a boost in the show’s ratings.

One can only hope.


Nick can be reached at: [email protected]