Community: College for Losers?

Big news in the community college world: loser struggling station NBC has announced a new sitcom for the fall called “Community” starring Chevy Chase as an older, lecherous, student in a Spanish study group. 

You can watch a 4-minute preview here 

If you watch the promo, note the gorgeous cafeteria with all the windows: this is a community college with swag.

I laughed, a little, and felt slightly ill at the inevitable “community college is for losers” joke, but it looks like NBC will try to emphasize the tagline, community colleges are for those who want a second chance, in an attempt to redeem themselves (and prevent cc presidents from taking their Harley’s across the country in protest).

Alas, from the clip at least it looks like the series missed the greater opportunity to mock cc instructors and is, instead, focusing on students (which are, admittedly, a potentially more varied group). 

As someone who has been mentally drafting my own cc-centered academic novel for years  (try finding one: the only one I found was written in the 50s and is terrible–can’t even remember the title right now, but I’ll dig for it), I’m thrilled that at least some sitcom writers have recognized the satirical wealth of such a setting. But, I’m also well aware of how such a satire can backfire on the professors who dedicate so much of their lives in support of the community college mission, and to those students who make incredible sacrifices to get an education.

I’ve spent my entire 20-year academic career teaching at very different community colleges: it’s often impossible to generalize about them. Some serve mostly traditional-age students; others mostly retraining adults–most serve both populations. Some hire PhDs for their transfer programs; others refuse to hire PhDs. Some are fairly well-off because of high property tax income; others clearly struggle with uneven state funding each year.  Some are one of many colleges in urban areas; others are the only college for 100s of miles. I can go on. Dean Dad has written about all of these issues, and more….

Here’s the press release summary: 

From Emmy Award-winning directors Joe and Anthony Russo (“Arrested Development”) comes “Community,” a smart comedy series about higher education…and lower expectations. The student body at Greendale Community College is made up of high-school losers, newly- divorced housewives, and old people who want to keep their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity. Within these not-so-hallowed halls, “Community” focuses on a band of misfits, at the center of which is a fast-talkin’ lawyer whose degree has been revoked (Joel McHale, “The Soup”), who form a study group and, in “Breakfast Club” fashion, end up learning a lot more about themselves than they do about their course work.

Obviously, I have many future blog postings on this topic…but right now I have some supposed “misfits” to teach.