Community College for Misfit Toys


NBC’s Community kicked off its fourth season last night so it seemed an appropriate choice for my Marxist analysis. The following Marxist analysis is focused specifically on the pilot episode, as I believe the pilot episode says more about the core of the show than any other episode.

The pilot begins with a disaster of a speech from the dean of Greendale Community College in which he accidently confirms the stereotype that community college is “loser college”. The episode then follows a disbarred lawyer named Jeff Winger, who tries to manipulate a professor into giving him all the answers to all his tests, as well as forming a Spanish study group to attempt to seduce a fellow student.
On one hand, hegemony suggests that education is both normal and desirable, yet the idea that community college is second rate education or “loser college” is also firmly imbedded. Subscribing to this ideology leads to the acceptance of a bizarre and diverse (religiously, ethnically, and age-wise) group such as the one presented in Community as normal and common sense only in a community college setting.
Many of the jokes presented in the pilot make fun of the second-rate nature of community college. For example, in response to Professor Duncan’s (whom Jeff tries to get answers from) adage that cheaters never prosper, Jeff retorts “If I wanted to learn something, I would not have come to community college.” Many of the teachers and professors are played by comedic actors (ie John Oliver and Ken Jeong), and generally are portrayed as jokes themselves.
The members of the study group itself, who become the main characters of the show, are almost all attending community college as a result of a past failure. Jeff Winger was caught with a faulty law degree, Britta Perry is a former high-school dropout and political activist, and Annie Edison and Troy Barnes both lost scholarships to top-tier universities. In fact, the only member of the study group who seems to be happy and willing to be there in Abed Nadir. The message seems to be that people have to do something wrong to “end up” in college.
Jeff Winger is the main and model character, because although he is manipulative and self-centered, he is an intelligent, confident leader whose very presence commands attention. He controls almost everything and everyone he comes into contact with, and both perceives himself, and is perceived by the audience, as being too intelligent to belong at a community college. In the end, however, he is shown as needing the help of the very group he manipulated.
Community then presents the alternative worldview of seven unique individuals in a proverbial “island of misfit toys” known as community college. The show appeals to student audiences, who relate to the characters, but would not find living like them desirable.
In conclusion, Community works as a sitcom because it presents a picture of a community college as a big joke, reinforcing the hegemony that community college is “clown college” or “loser college”. However, it is an occluded preferred reading because Jeff, the model character representing the professional and academic ruling class needs the misfits to help him successfully navigate the very community college he made fun of.


One thought on “Community College for Misfit Toys

  1. Your analysis mainly describes the scenes of the show and points out effect of the show on audience that the life of the characters in the show appeals the audience but the audiences do not think that is a desirable life.
    In the analysis, you make use of the jargons and knowledge acquired in the subject to analyze the text, which is clear enough to explain your analysis. However, you could have analyzed the text more on the basis of the academic knowledge by using more jargons or analyzing the text with the reference of relevant definition instead of describing the scenes in the show. I believe that this could have made your analysis more academic.
    You also point out some hilarious scenes and dialogues in the show, which make your analysis more interesting. For example, teachers and professors in the show being played by comedic actors definitely seems to be hilarious and the dialogue said by Jeff that “If I wanted to learn something, I would not have come to community college” is even ironic and will definitely make a lot of audience laugh when he said this to a professor directly.
    You did very well in quoting the examples and describing the scenes but it would be more appropriate to talk more about the implied message of the examples. For instance, teachers and professors are supposed to be respected by students. However, in the show, they do not receive respect and students even play tricks on them. This implies not only the students, the teachers and professors in community colleges are also despised. Is it a real situation? Do the professors and teachers in community college also think that they are worth being despised? If so, do you think that those students and professors will make a change after watching this show? These may be also the questions that you can discuss.
    Besides, some of your arguments seem not to be clear enough. For example, you mentioned the pilot episode said more about the core of the show than any other episode. What is the core of the show? You may need to provide more background information for readers to understand your analysis. You also mentioned that the show reinforce the hegemony that community college is a “clown college” or “loser college” but it seems to be contradictory to the message brought by the story of the show. It is Jeff who made fun of community college to receive assistance from the students in community college so the esteem of the students should be better but why does this reinforce the hegemony?

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