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9 Shows like Community: Shenanigan-Filled Series

Jonny_Sweet_itcher_contributorIf you can’t get enough of Troy and Abed in the morning, and want to get a similar fix of ridiculous comedy in the afternoon, evening and night-time as well, check out ’30 Rock’, ‘Bored to Death’, ‘Reno 911’ or any of these other hilarious TV shows like ‘Community’. ~ Jonny Sweet

Wasted Youth… No, Really

When I was first stumbled across ‘Community’ via word of mouth a few years ago, me and a group of friends spent the best part of a week blitzing through the first three series (all that were available at the time)… in Barcelona. We went on holiday to Barcelona. And watched a sitcom in our AirBnB room for a period verging on a full 24 hours of the five days we had in that incredible city.
The ensuing sense of communal self-loathing that such a binge brought about has linked that group inextricably with the series in my mind… and though memories of those hungover, claustrophobic five days fill me with a weird sense of nostalgic disgust, I found myself liking it so much that I went foraging for shows similar ‘Community’ to tide me over until the next release.
In the ensuing years, I’ve enjoyed many a belly laugh at a whole host of witty TV series like ‘Community’, so much so that I’ve decided to write this article, devoting one for each character in it. Simply locate your favourite character, watch the recommended show for that persona… and then watch all the others. What could be simpler! Here goes.
Jeff Winger – ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (3 Arts Entertainment, 2005-present)

The smart-ass laddishness of all of Jeff’s jokes mean that he steals almost every scene he’s in (unless Abed, Pierce or Chang come up with a zinger) and his particular brand of philosophising condescension and “guy humour” would be right at home in “It’s Always Sunny”.

Similarity Match: 80%
The inept capers of the male cast of ‘Community’ are echoed in ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ on a weekly basis.

Britta Perry – ‘Parks and Recreation’ (NBCUniversal Television Distribution, 2009-15)

Yeah right! There’s no way Britta’s anyone’s favourite character, she sucks! But I bet her self-righteous, head-in-the-clouds bullshit would down a treat in the US parks department. If the activism thing doesn’t work out for you Britta, you know where to go.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘Community’ are both about a handful of moderately-intelligent people and a handful of incredibly stupid ones, all of which believe themselves to be cleverer than they are.

Pierce Hawthorne – ’30 Rock’ (NBCUniversal Television Distribution, 2006-13)

Pierce’s boorish, controversial and occasionally senile interjections are reminiscent of Jack Donaghy, the character played with suave aplomb by Alec Baldwin in ’30 Rock’ as he micro-manages all aspects of the network. If you’ve got a thing for older men, ’30 Rock’ is the series for you (or possibly ‘Diagnosis Murder’).

Similarity Match: 75%
The inevitable friction which arises from working (or studying) closely with the same group of people on a daily basis is a recurring theme in both ’30 Rock’ and ‘Community’.

Annie Edison – ‘Bored to Death’ (HBO Entertainment, 2009-11)

Annie’s generally conservative bookishness is the perfect counterpart to Jonathan Ames’ literary liberalism, while both are often prone to random acts of impetuous idiocy. Forget about Suzanne, Jonathan! Annie’s the one for you.

Similarity Match: 75%
Both ‘Bored to Death’ and ‘Community’ escape the monotony of everyday life with bizarre and sometimes unrealistic adventures.

Abed Nadir – ‘The IT Crowd’ (FremantleMedia, 2006-13)

If it’s geeky, surreal and slightly autistic humour that floats your boat, check out Abed Nadir’s British equivalent in Richard Ayoade – who also guest stars in the far zanier but less nerdy show ‘The Mighty Boosh’.

Similarity Match: 65%
As a sitcom essentially about studying, ‘Community’ often explores similarly dorky avenues of comedy as ‘The IT Crowd’.

Shirley Bennett – ‘Louie’ (3 Arts Entertainment, 2010-present)

Shirley’s devotion to her kids is matched by Louis C.K.’s, who clearly loves his two little girls so much that he misses no opportunity to ridicule them in his stand-up shows at every turn. If you haven’t already checked out Louis’ comedy material, drop everything immediately and watch it right now.

Similarity Match: 65%
Themes of family and parenthood play a small role in ‘Community’ and a larger one in ‘Louie’, though the former parent appears to be far more in charge of what she’s doing than the latter.

Troy Barnes – ‘Spaced’ (Channel 4, 1999-2001)

Another British cult classic, the characters in ‘Spaced’ share a similar preoccupation with crappy B-movies, video games and general pop culture references as Troy and Abed are frequently found riffing on.

Similarity Match: 65%
‘Spaced’ and ‘Community’ both often construct whole episodes around parodying a specific cultural reference.

Craig Pelton – ‘Reno 911!’ (Lake Harper Productions, 2003-09)

The Dean of Greendale Community College was surely a Reno cop in a former life. What with his propensity to dressing up in ever more garish costumes, throwing hissy fits and acting like a “pansexual imp”, Pelton could most definitely protect and serve.

Similarity Match: 65%
The wacky and wildly unfeasible occurrences that take place in the show ‘Reno 911!’ are very reminiscent of similar episodes in ‘Community’.

Ben Chang – ‘Black Books’ (Big Talk, 2000-04)

One of the finest minor characters in any sitcom or film, Chang’s world-weary, anti-social and sometimes wildly irrational behaviour makes him a tiny, hyperactive, American-Asian version of Bernard Black and Manny Bianco combined.

Similarity Match: 60%
You might have thought it impossible to come across an unlikelier bunch of friends than those in ‘Community’… until you watch ‘Black Books’.


Over to You

I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn. Which is your favourite character? Do you agree with my pairings of personalities with different series like ‘Community’? Are there any obvious ones I’ve missed? Are you outraged at my harsh appraisal of Britta? If you woke up one day and you were a donut, would you be able to resist eating yourself?
So many questions, so much space in the comments section just waiting to be filled.
Go on, you know it makes sense.
I′m Jonny, an English Literature graduate who decided careers and mortgages were too mundane, and travelling, film, music and books were much more enticing. I have recently made a very comfortable nest for myself in Santiago de Chile, and on itcher Mag where I regularly contribute eloquent waffle on all manner of media.
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