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What’s missing from your Hulu queue?

By Shelby Powell–
Busy college students with full schedules are always looking for a way to wind down after a long day or power up during a homework break. A bag of Cheetos and 30 minutes of comedic escapism are exactly what the wayward student needs.

For many, watching the same old episode of Friends that’s played on TBS 38 times just won’t cut it. Most, however, don’t have the time to search out that one perfect show. This amateur journalist has sought to answer that unbearable question and give you, dear reader, a perfect sitcom on a silver platter.

Community, a quirky sitcom in its third season, centers on a group of affable misfits studying at Greendale Community College in Greendale, Colorado. Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is a lawyer who has been disbarred for lying about his degree. In order to return to the materialistic life he once treasured, Jeff enrolls in community college. In his quest to make Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) the next notch on his belt, Jeff is unwittingly sucked into the lives of six people who become his closest friends and Spanish study group.

There is Annie (Alison Brie), the recent high school graduate who recently overcame a pill addiction. Troy (Donald Glover), Annie’s high school classmate, has arrived at Greendale after dashing his scholarship hopes at better colleges. Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is a single mom and an ultra-Christian looking to better herself after catching her husband cheating. Abed (Danny Pudi) is an essentially autistic young man with a categorical knowledge of pop culture. Sometimes crippled by his disorder, he relates to the others through film and television references. Comedy legend Chevy Chase rounds out the study group as Pierce Hawthorne, a wealthy elderly man who simply has too much time on his hands.

Autism and past pill addictions aside, Community successfully toes the line between sarcasm and sugary sweetness. Many plot lines, like one that finds Jeff joining Annie’s debate team, show characters that simultaneously insult and protect one another from the outside world that scorned them. Football star Troy Barnes puts it most succinctly while standing in front of Greendale’s new football team that includes a pregnant woman and an 80 year old man. “I don’t know about you, but I know I ended up here because things weren’t so great out there.” The study group is a family, albeit a slightly dysfunctional one.

The characters are obviously and unapologetically flawed. Britta is petty. Jeff is vain. Annie is competitive. Pierce is racist and homophobic. While each of these characters give the viewer every reason not to like them, creator Dan Harmon crafts a world in which you can’t help but root for them to succeed. Annie’s competitiveness drives an episode where she decides to run for student body president. Jeff’s vanity is tested repeatedly and, little by little, the viewer is shown his self-esteem issues. Through their flaws, the audience can see a little of themselves in each of the characters.

If for nothing else, watch Community for the tributes. Dan Harmon is a faithful student of pop culture and his show reflects that. One episode, revolving around a chicken finger shortage in the cafeteria, is a hilarious and artful send-up of the Martin Scorsese classic Goodfellas. Another presents each of the characters dressed up as players in the iconic Pulp Fiction. The pilot is an homage to the late John Hughes. “Modern Warfare,” a first season episode, results in a campus wide paintball war. The 30-minute episode contains at least 20 different references to films like Die Hard, 28 Days Later, and Terminator.

For the student who is overwhelmed with a little too much homework on his or her plate, add Community to your Hulu queue. Spend just 30 minutes on Greendale’s campus. The cross-dressing dean of the college will welcome you with open arms.