Recurring Clichés And Stereotypes In The Sitcom Community Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Community, Television, Media, Education, Study, Stereotypes, Character, Fun

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/16

Community, the NBC sitcom that follows the happenings in the ‘fake’ Spanish study group of Greendale community college. The study group comprises of people who are completely different from each other and is mostly about how they face challenges, bicker with each other and finally stay as a close knit group. It is a sitcom that through its characters, mainly Abed and Troy makes fun of the conventions of television and sitcoms but also employs most of the tropes that make up a traditional television comedy. The sitcom mocks the conventional portrayal of minority characters in sitcoms by embodying it to begin with and the turning it inside out later on. As Alessandra Stanley in a New York Times review states, “Community” is a sitcom that spoofs the conventions of television even as it follows them closely (Stanley 2009).”
The dumb bombshell and the studious brunette fighting over the ‘hot’ guy is another cliché and stereotype that is played out in Community. Jeff starts the whole study group for Britta as can be evidenced in the first episode but she later goes to the periphery and their romance does not happen till later episodes. She is portrayed as hair-brained and flitting between jobs and studies but is also shown to be someone who is so much more underneath all that blonde hair and beautiful face. Annie, another stereotype is brunette and as expected is the ‘good’ girl who is studious is understanding of others and ultimately who the hot guy falls for. Although there is initially some tension between the two characters, they come together at various episodes and remain friends. In the episode, “Romantic expressionism, Britta initially gives her consent to Annie to date her ex-boyfriend Vaughn but later becomes jealous and insecure and conspired with Jeff to break them apart. Britta later apologizes and in other episodes such as ‘Spanish 101’ and Football, Feminism and You’, they are in the same time. In fact in Spanish 101, Annie and Shirley come together to support Guatemala after being inspired by Britta (Britta and Annie). The love triangle between these three is filled with clichés which mimic and mock other sitcoms at the same time. Sometimes the mimicking is to such an extent that the viewer would be easily left wondering it is a critique of conventional television or if the sitcom has succumbed to formulaic stories and situations itself.
Community also has a formula to it. It usually starts with a conflict between one member and the others in the study group, or between members of the study group and outsiders. The conflict is usually resolved at the end of an episode with Jeff usually giving a victory speech or a speech that sounds like the moral of the story. The members of the group no matter what their differences are come together at the end and stand by each other. Their differences and bickering are soon forgotten and they stand by each other. This is a recurring theme that can be found in the sitcom. It can be seen when the study group comes together to keep others away from their group and also during the paint ball episode when the warring members team up to beat the other teams. In the paint ball episode there is also the ‘chemistry’ between Senor Chang and Shirley. When the two are locked in the room together they realize that they are not really against each other and that Shirley is not really racist and has no hatred for senor Chang. Chang is shown as a fraudster and a comic evil conniving man who wants to be part of the study group by any means. That Chang is a Chinese guy is not lost on the viewers. It is a play on the fact that TV and movies very routinely portray the Chinese as the bad people and as villains. By showing the true colors of Chang and showing the humane side of him and his desire to be accepted in the group, the sitcom provides a rather real image of the character and he does not come across as just another stereotype that was included to bring in the laughs. Just as in a precious episode where Shirley and Pierce were brought together and their tension and apparent racist behavior was sorted out, Chang and Shirley come together in a rather intimate manner to bring out the similarities between the characters. Both the characters are representative of minorities and both through their caricatures bring out the rather myopic way in which minorities are portrayed on TV.
Jeff is another interesting character who is full of clichés. He is an ex-lawyer who is in the community college solely for the purpose of getting some easy credits to get back into his profession. Although he is portrayed as the handsome and rather high-headed ‘leader’ of the study group who gets to insult and make fun of the other members, he eventually comes out as the most romantic and most caring of them all. He stands for love, honor and everything else that he pretends to be not in the sitcom. His character portrayal is rather interesting in the sitcom as he is the stereotype of a male protagonist in regular TV shows. He is tall, he is handsome, he has a few women and some men after him and he is supposedly brilliant. He is also white and male and that gives him a kind of edge over the others in the study group. But Jeff’s character in a lot of episodes actually shows a lot of weaknesses and he is not the strong and brilliant person he portrays himself to be. IN fact it is the others who he routinely makes fun of who come to his aid and are shown as being his equals and sometimes better than what he is. Jeff also gets to routinely end every episode with his speech that sums up whatever has happened and gives advice to the others. In some episodes Jeff is also shown making the same speech but where he is humble and admits that he is not the person he pretends to be and that he is grateful to be surrounded by his friends. Through Jeff’s character there is a mockery of the archetypal male protagonist of the TV and movies. The apparent strong man and the leader is not really strong but similar to others that he makes fun of. He is actually not better than them but someone who is quite similar.
Sean O’Neal in his review of the sitcom says that “Those tasked with selling NBC’s Community to a new audience have often relied on subjective and intangible elements: The layers to its comedy. Its simultaneous embracing and deconstruction of sitcom tropes. Its “heart,” whatever that means (O’Neal 2013).” The brilliance of Community lies in the fact that it routinely uses stereotypes and clichés to portray how certain characters are shown on TV. A closer look at the sitcom reveals that all the characters in the sitcom are stereotypes who mouth clichés. But the sitcom on the whole is not a stereotype. It rather uses the exaggerated stereotypes and clichés to make fun of the portrayal of men, women and minorities on conventional TV. Community is a classic example of subverted tropes (Kurp 2011). Although there are stereotypes in the sitcom, they act as a means to an end. The characters are fleshed out in later episodes even if they come across as stereotypes in the first few episodes. There are not given an annoying characteristic because they cannot be fleshed out.
Community is much more than a comedy series in this sense. It is a satire on conventional TV and also society which has predetermined notions of how certain characters need to behave ad need to be shown. It also acts as a sort of mirror that shows people how they actually view the world around them.

Works Cited

Kurp, Josh. “Ten of TV’s Most Obnoxious, Overused Tropes.” 12 Jul.2011. Web. 11 Mar.2015.
“Britta and Annie.” n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
Harris, Aisha. “Character Studies: Shirley Bennett, Community.” 17 May 2012. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
Stanley, Alessandra. “Community: A Wink at Colleges and a Nod to Clichés.” 16 Sept. 2009. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
O’Neal, Sean. “The new Community syndication trailer understands that the show is really about hot girls with boobs.” 26 Jul.2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

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