‘Community’: The 20 Greatest Episodes

There are days — many of them — when I’ll tell you Community is the greatest TV show ever made. It’s definitely one of my Top 3, an eternal source of comforting colour and warmth that produced some truly exceptional instalments between 2009 and 2015. The whole series, even the weakest points of Seasons 4 through 6, is a masterpiece, but what are the absolute best episodes? Dean-cision time!

1. STUDIES IN MODERN MOVEMENT

Annie moves in with Troy and Abed, and they try to make her feel welcome. Britta and Shirley give a ride to a mysterious hitchhiker. The Dean blackmails Jeff into performing “Kiss From A Rose” at karaoke. Intensely, weirdly moving.

2. REMEDIAL CHAOS THEORY

A pizza party at Troy and Abed’s place fragments into multiple realities after the throw of a dice. We’re introduced to the concept of the Darkest Timeline. And there’s a terrifying gnome doll. A groundbreaking episode of television.

3. EMOTIONAL CONSEQUENCES OF BROADCAST TELEVISION

The final episode is stunningly heartbreaking, as Jeff struggles to let go of the group through the medium of imagined ‘seventh seasons’.

4. DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING: REDUX

“Hearts of Darkness is better than Apocalypse Now”, and this episode is better than Hearts of Darkness. The Dean directs a new commercial for Greendale, casting Jeff — and later Chang — to play him. Bonkers and brilliant.

5. MESSIANIC MYTHS & ANCIENT PEOPLES

Community’s great religion episode. Shirley enlists Abed to direct a Christian propaganda film, but he takes it a little far and… effectively turns into Jesus. Ephemeral.

6. REGIONAL HOLIDAY MUSIC

A Christmas special that instantly transcends its status as a Glee pastiche: the songs are genuinely catchy as hell, and the staged performances are the strongest ever showcase of TV directing on this show.

7. INTRO TO POLITICAL SCIENCE

Jeff and Annie (and Leonard and Magnitude) compete for Class President, climaxing in a high-stakes(?) debate. Aggressively witty.

8. CELEBRITY PHARMACOLOGY

Pierce dresses as a marijuana leaf and gets a room of 12-year olds to chant “We want drugs”. Ingenious.

9. CONSPIRACY THEORIES & INTERIOR DESIGN

Professor Professorson, The Dean, Jeff and Annie get tangled in a complex web of conspiracy and violence. Hysterical.

10. EARLY 21ST CENTURY ROMANTICISM

Britta is really proud to have a lesbian friend. Chang and Duncan crash Jeff’s apartment for a soccer match. Troy and Abed gently fight for a librarian’s romantic attention.

11. VIRTUAL SYSTEMS ANALYSIS

Setting aside the slightly irksome Doctor Who parody elements, this is a fabulous delve inside the workings of Abed’s strange, strange mind. Compelling.

12. ADVANCED GAY

Pierce’s family legacy is threatened by raging homosexuals and we meet his ivory wig-wearing father.

13. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LETTING GO

This episode is mostly about Pierce accepting his mother’s death. But it also features the infamous Annie/Britta mud fight, the appeal of which sorta speaks for itself…

14. CRITICAL FILM STUDIES

The gang organise a Pulp Fiction party for Abed, but he’s a bigger My Dinner With Andre fan now. Further deconstruction of (possibly) the show’s most complicated character.

15. AERODYNAMICS OF GENDER

The men discover a life-changing trampoline, while the women turn Abed into a monstrous bully.

16. COMPETITIVE WINE TASTING

Abed fights with Stephen Tobolowsky over who the titular boss in Who’s the Boss could actually be, and Troy fakes a molestation story to be accepted by a group of actors.

17. CONTEMPORARY IMPRESSIONISTS

The gang attend a Bar Mitzvah in character as their lookalikes to repay Abed’s debt. Indulgently enjoyable.

18. WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHY

The gang ruin Garret and Vicky’s day one last time. Brilliant for the ‘Celebrity Garret Wedding’ impersonations alone.

19. COOPERATIVE ESCAPISM IN FAMILIAL RELATIONS

Jeff reunites with his dad, while everyone else pulls a Shawshank to escape Shirley’s Thanksgiving party.

20. GEOTHERMAL ESCAPISM

A fitting and melancholy farewell for Troy, framed as giant game of Lava. Jonathan Banks’s finest moment of his one season on Community.