Hello hello! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable 4th of July weekend! I’m just fresh off a family vacation myself – I have the painful sunburn and awkward tan lines to prove it (still in disbelief that I can actually get a tan…Scotch-Irish girl problems). Anyway, that is neither here nor there. What is here, however, is Community. I’ve decided to start things off with a simple list ranking the main cast of the show. This also includes those who were only around for a season, such as Hickey, Elroy and Frankie. Basically, anyone who sat in that beautifully sacred study room. Also, if anyone perusing this list happens to have differing opinions than mine, I’d love to read them! I just learned how to use The Tags on The Word Press – this newfangled techno-thingy called The Internet is pretty swell, am I right? So perhaps The Tags will bring more traffic to my humble little blog. Now that I’ve confessed to you that I’m essentially an ignoramus when it comes to all things technological, let’s get started. DISCLAIMER: IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THE SHOW THROUGH SEASON 6, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
12. Buzz Hickey
I love Jonathan Banks as an actor. He’s done some fantastic work over quite the expansive career – he has 155 credits on his IMDb page. I did enjoy Hickey during his brief stint on Community, as I have enjoyed every character on this list. I wish he would have stayed on longer, but Banks booked (oooh, alliteration) Better Call Saul, which resulted in Harmon and co. promptly giving Hickey a TV death. He had great potential as this gruff “rough around the edges” elder character (I never saw him as a Pierce replacement, to be honest – he wasn’t racist). But it felt one-note to me at times, with the exception being when David Cross guest starred as his son, and we were given a glimpse into Hickey’s family life. Hickey was at his best in the Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons episode. i did enjoy all interactions, regardless of how brief, with Jeff. I would have loved to have seen more of Hickey taking Jeff under his wing (Haha. Winger under his wing. It’s the little things that amuse me.). We just didn’t get enough time with Hickey.
I know, I know. I may get an internet lashing for this. She had some great moments, my top two favorites including her displaying her drum prowess in Intro to Recycled Cinema and when she confesses to the gang that she still struggles to move past her sister’s death in Basic Email Security. I also love the recurring bit of the Greendale study group trying to figure out her sexuality. The reason I placed her second to last is that she felt too much like Annie, and since we already have a perfectly functional Annie who’s been around since the beginning, it seemed redundant to have another, albeit older version of practically the same character. The major difference I saw between the two was Frankie appeared to be more grounded, providing the voice of reason whenever the study group was acting irrationally (which was all the time). I personally saw more “dimensions” to her character than Hickey, which is mostly in part due to the writing. I just wish these one season characters had always been with us.
Shirley annoyed me to no end at first, and honestly that’s not the fault of Yvette Nicole Brown, who definitely gave us some wonderful moments throughout her tenure on the show. Perhaps that’s what Harmon intended. Perhaps I’m entirely off base and too hopped up on caffeine to know what I’m talking about. To me she had moments where her character evolved, and then constantly took a step backward. Yvette is a terrific actress, and I’ve always enjoyed her work. They say you’ve done your job as an actor when you trigger a reaction from your audience, positive and negative. I loved her bonding with Jeff in Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism. I loved that she could be a badass when the situation called for it, and was truly loyal to any friend she had when they needed loyalty most. I was saddened to hear she would not be returning for Season 6, as I truly love the Greendale Original Seven, but I would have placed family first as well if I was in that situation.
Oh, Pierce. The racist. The homophobe. The misogynist. I think Chevy Chase was at his best in Season 1, and his character did evolve. I did rather enjoy his intentional villainous turn in Season 2, especially in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (which happens to be one of my all-time favorite episodes). Although his callous and extremely hurtful remarks to Neil did make me want to reach through my TV and strangle him. But that was his function, and he served it well. Pierce also had some wonderful qualities – loyalty being one of them. His willingness to help Annie with her rent in Celebrity Pharmacology 212 was more than just a bribe, I believe he genuinely did care for her. He was a big softie beneath that crass shell. I also felt sorry for him in The Psychology of Letting Go and loved seeing the group rally around him in support for Digital Exploration of Interior Design. Sometimes Pierce’s schtick did get old, and it also got tiresome for Chase as well from what I’ve read. But Pierce was still that racist, homophobic and misogynistic old coot we all knew and loved. Typically a person with those qualities isn’t lovable, so Pierce broke the mold with that one.
I love Elroy. You could tell Keith David was having a blast throughout the whole of Season 6. I loved him and Britta bonding over Natalie is Freezing songs. Obviously his best moment was in Wedding Videography with his addiction to complimenting white people – “Now that’s a guy who knows how to marry his cousin!” I lost it. I think I rewound the episode at least three times so I could watch that moment on repeat. He just eased into the group and seemed to fit right in. He wasn’t a Pierce or a Hickey replacement, but definitely his own character. I sincerely hope that regardless of Community’s next move, be it another season or our beloved movie, Elroy makes the return to Greendale.
“Oh, Britta’s in this?” Britta had a way of Britta-ing everything – even typing her name registers as a misspelling. Britta started as a strong female character who had a voice, and then evolved into a ditz who’s the butt of everyone’s jokes. Gillian Jacobs handles everything with finesse, and injects Britta with so much heart. You can tell she means well with everything she does, even if the results of her actions take on a disastrous quality. I’m just not sure the writers knew what they wanted to do with Britta when we entered later seasons, as she sort of flip-flopped all over the place. I never liked her with Jeff, but I did hope her journey at Greendale would end with her leaving Colorado to explore the world, possibly move back to NYC. I just can’t imagine someone like her wanting to stay behind bartending at a small-town bar. I absolutely adored her in Regional Holiday Music, and I actually liked her relationship with Troy. I felt her and Jeff were too much alike in certain aspects, and Troy’s personality perfectly complemented hers. Britta, in a way, was the heart of the study group. Man, making lists is hard.
Oh no! I didn’t place the lead of the show, the actor who gets top billing as number one on my list! Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Winger, and Joel McHale is definitely easy on the eyes. I adore his Winger speeches, especially the ones that are the opposite of motivational. I think Contemporary Impressionists is my favorite Jeff-centric episode. I loved the way they poked fun at Jeff’s ever-expanding ego (I’m killing it on the alliteration front today). While Jeff always walked with the swagger of a former lawyer who was disbarred from his practice and now attending community college, he did have some lovely moments with the study group members. His character had one of the biggest transformations, and rightly so. It was absolutely heartbreaking watching him struggle to let everyone go pursue their dreams in the Season (possibly series) 6 finale. His relationship with Annie was touching, and despite the age difference it felt right. As much as I shipped them and as much as his speech to her tugged the heartstrings (that scene in general was so well done all across the board), I was satisfied to see them parting as friends. Annie had moved on, and it was a big realization for Jeff in that he was getting older and settling down, while she still had her life ahead of her. Jeff was the appointed leader of the study group, but the show didn’t exclusively revolve around him. Or his abs, no matter how beautiful they are. As the Dean would say, “Oh, Jeffrey…”
Yes, I ranked Chang above Jeff, and the minute I hit “publish” I’ll probably Chang my mind. Chang is another character who had one of the most drastic evolutions on the show. He started out as essentially a villain and ended up becoming one of the study group. I loved his turn in Season 3, as Kevin, and how everything culminated into The First Chang Dynasty. Man, can he bust out those keytar solos. Obviously Intro to Recycled Cinema was another great episode for Chang. His last scene where he’s fired from a Spielberg film cracked me up. He had a certain Pierce quality to him in that he tried so hard to infiltrate the study group, all out of a need for friendship. Ken Jeong portrayed him brilliantly. He really had some of the best lines from the series, especially in the Season 6 finale. Chang, never Chang.
Woo-hoo! Top 4 territory! Abed is the pop culture epicenter of the show, the commentator. Danny Pudi did such a phenomenal job of making this anti-social, almost Sheldon-esque character absolutely lovable. His relationship with Abed was sweet, and they complemented each other so well. Abed also grew up throughout the course of the series, as is evident in the Season 6 finale when he recognizes that real life and film are not synonymous with one another. Abed had so many fun-filled moments at Greendale – from Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas to Basic RV Repair and Palmistry. He truly is the meta of the show. I also loved that I understood most if not all of his pop culture references (What? It’s an accomplishment.). I own the Troy and Abed in the Morning mug, and while sometimes looking at it makes me wistful of better times (you know, before Troy went sailing with LeVar Burton), it’s one of my favorite mugs to use for my morning cup of joe. Abed missing Troy in the Season 6 finale tugged at my heartstrings – his brief moments of honest, vulnerable emotion were so beautiful. His relationship with Jeff was another favorite of mine. He was also the glue that held the study group together, in a way. Long live Abed, Evil Abed and Inspector SpaceTime.
Troy, Troy, Troy. Oh how I love thee. He makes my heart smile. He was so lovably ditzy. I believe his friendship with Abed really helped Abed open up more. They completed each other, as cheesy as that sounds. One of my favorite Troy moments was him meeting his idol LeVar Burton for the first time in Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking. “Set phasers to love me!” I don’t think I’ve never not (oooh double negative) laughed aloud at one of his lines. Troy also had a “mother hen” instinct to him – he was always looking out for his friends. He was also one of the only characters who was nice to Pierce, and, like Annie, saw through Pierce’s outward behavior. He’s the jock you actually love (I didn’t know too many lovable jocks in high school, to be honest). Another favorite Troy moment occurred in Remedial Chaos Theory (another favorite episode of mine – I may need to construct another Community list consisting of favorite episodes at some point). When he comes back with the pizza, after only having been absent for a minute, to the destruction that took place in his apartment is such a great moment. I’ll admit it – I got a thing for Troy. He’s adorable, and oh so sweet. He seems like that one friend that could always put a smile on your face.
I love Annie. Annie, who could never be sexualized because she was too “young,” and yet somehow was always sexualized, mostly by Jeff. She is a lot like me, which is probably why she’s so high on the list. While I would have loved to play Annie, I think Alison Brie was the best possible choice for this character. Brie had a way of taking a character who was a little “out there” and make her grounded and believable. Annie had so many fantastic highlights that it’s difficult to pick my favorites, although her song and dance number in Regional Holiday Music was perfect. Her character, like Abed’s, grew up, and it was fascinating watching her grow. As I mentioned while talking about Jeff, I did ship them as a couple. But her final one-on-one scene with him was the perfect button, the final sentence to that part of her life. Jeff was just a “phase,” and while she did genuinely love him, she knew she still had her life ahead of her. I imagine if one day she ever returns to Greendale, or they happen to reunite somewhere they could potentially pick up where they left off. As she said (and I might be paraphrasing here) in the finale, “You better kiss me, or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. I’ll regret the kiss for a week, I’m young.” She is incredibly smart and has such a big heart. She’s neurotic, but lovably so. I loved all of her interactions with everyone on the show. I hope one day Annie is the head of the FBI, as she deserves to get what she wants.
1. Dean Craig Pelton
Did you expect anyone else to top this list? The Dean is the heart of Greendale Community College. He spearheaded the “Save Greendale” campaign, and just wanted what was best for his students. His obsession with “Jeffrey” is perfection. His costumes are unparalleled. Jim Rash is not only an Oscar winner, but a professional scene stealer. Any time he enters a room he commands everyone’s attention. His rap while dressed as a peanut bar in VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing had me in stitches the first time I watched it, and I loved that you could see Gillian Jacobs trying to hold it together during that scene. I think one of my favorite Dean-centric episodes is, obviously, Documentary Filmmaking: Redux when he goes nuts over trying to shoot the perfect commercial that encapsulates everything Greendale stands for. I also like that we addressed the Dean’s sexuality in Queer Studies & Advanced Waxing, and it was more that he was a “politician,” and not gay. “I hope this doesn’t awaken anything in me.” Well, too late, Pelton. You’ve awakened something in all of us Community fans. Now don’t do Dean-ing my heart, because frankly my dear, I don’t give a Dean. Dean. *insert photo of Dean in Scarlett O’Hara costume*
Well, folks, that’s it! I adore everyone that’s ever graced Greendale’s halls, as well as the many memorable supporting and guest roles (Who is Glip-Glop, anyone?). Community has gotten me through my bouts with depression, and is one of the few shows that makes me laugh out loud. It’s smart, witty and oh-so meta. The acting is Emmy-worthy, as well as the writing. Here’s hoping Season 6 wasn’t our final time with the study group. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a movie, with the Original Seven reuniting once more.
Jeff: The show’s gonna last three weeks!
Abed: Six seasons and a movie!
GET ON IT, HARMON.
Until next time,