There's Princeton. There's Stanford. And then there's Greendale Community College.
Greendale, located in sunny, scenic, fictional Greendale, Colo., has all the educational opportunities you'd find in an elite Eastern Seaboard or hip West Coast school. Except for the Nobel Laureate professors, of course. Or the top-notch curriculum. Or the stimulating learning environment.
OK. Now that I'm thinking straight, Greendale may have fallen a little behind some of its hoity-toity competitors. But it does boast something they lack: air conditioning!
Oh, wait, Ivy League schools have that too. Bummer. Hold on, let me peruse the pamphlet for a minute …
Well, here's something you certainly won't find at Brown or Cornell: A wacky, wisecracking and highly photogenic study group that's come to expect regular drop-ins from Chevy Chase! Take that, Dartmouth!
Here's who's in the in-crowd: Jeff, a former hot-shot lawyer who decided to go back to school after his elite firm discovered he never earned a bachelor's degree. Pretty and blond, Britta served in the Peace Corps for years before opting to grab her GED and now aspires to finally pocket a college degree. Troy was once Greendale's high school football star, and he's looking for new opportunities now that he's done throwing the pigskin. Annie, another local product, hopes to transfer to an Ivy League school (though we don't know why she'd want to). And Chevy Chase, er, Pierce Hawthorne, is a moist towelette magnate, taking a few classes just for grins. Shirley's enrolled in some business courses so she can start her own company. Abed's the resident pop-culture fiend.
Abed's not the only one who cares deeply about the last 50 years' worth of screen-centric circumstances. Giggling and grungy group meetings are chockablock with pop-culture references, from Lethal Weapon to Cheers to Lady Gaga. And sometimes these wacky kids (and kids-at-heart) spend the equivalent of a 30-minute sitcom episode satirizing one film or television genre. It's as if they've never done anything in their entire lives but watch TV. And that makes them a perfect fit, really, for the higher education environs of Greendale, where the motto is "You're Already Accepted."
Underneath their in-the-know banter, it's clear the folks in this study group are an accepting lot. They kinda care about one another—in a snarky, passive-aggressive way. But they're also committed to making good on their once-in-a-lifetime college "experience," which means they talk about and participate in sex and drinking far more than class assignments—except when the class assignment is drinking.
See? Just like Harvard and Yale.
A note about Season 4: Community lost its behind-the-camera president and dean, executive producer Dan Harmon after a very public and sordid feud with Chevy Chase, who also departed after shooting all but a few episodes. But Greendale is, so far, largely unchanged, still humming along with the same energy, rapid-fire meta-jokes, cheap cross-dressing gags and, believe it or not, heart.
"Alternative History of the German Invasion"
A new history teacher (Malcolm McDowell) asks his students to write a paper exploring history not from the victors' point of view, but through the eyes of the vanquished. Commence ironic social standoffs between "the gang" and some German exchange students. The Germans are at one point tricked into partaking in a fake Oktoberfest … and Dean Pelton informs them that it's against school rules for any student to celebrate his own cultural heritage—though celebrating another group's heritage is encouraged. "That's why I keep a detailed list of everyone's race and nationality—to prevent racism and nationalism," he says.
Dean Pelton dresses in a revealing nurse's outfit and tells his assistant to store away his Carmen Miranda getup. Jeff is dressed up as a female figure skater. The history prof confesses to a "slip-up" with a co-ed. Several double entendres reference male anatomy. Pierce is violently shocked by a fluorescent light fixture. Several people fall off broken chairs. A dead raccoon is removed from a vent.
Loads of jokes and jabs (verbal and visual) target Germans, Jews and the Holocaust. Students sip beer and say "b‑‑tard," "b‑‑ch" and "d‑‑n" once or twice each. God's name is misused a handful of times.
"Competitive Wine Tasting"
It's elective season at Greendale, so Jeff and Pierce enroll in "Italian Wine Tasting," where Pierce falls for a much younger woman. The two quickly get engaged. Pierce, who mentions he found the "right woman" seven times before, hopes his latest wife will satisfy him "like an insatiable baboon." A classmate says he likes the course because it has "drunk ladies, fancy bathrooms and a room full of free coats." Meanwhile, Britta and Troy attend acting class, where Troy—needing to summon a painful memory—lies about being molested as a boy. He later confesses, and when the class seems disappointed he wasn't molested, he says, "I know, I'm bummed about it too."
Other jokes center on prostitution, threesomes, condoms, sexual organs, incest, homosexuality, racism, incontinence and Pierce's "special cellar" with swings and saddles. Students drink wine and other forms of alcohol, and a professor asks his class to drink cognac in the bathtub for "homework." A reference is made to huffing paint. Women are ogled. Just for "fun," a scene makes it look as though a distraught professor may be about to commit suicide.