OPINION: “Community” Accurately Represents the Community College Experience

Image courtesy of Bellevue College.

“Community” is an American sitcom revolving around a group of students attending the fictional community college, Greendale. The show ran from 2009-2015 and was created by writer Dan Harmon about his community college experiences. On Sept. 30, Harmon and the cast announced that a “Community” movie is coming sometime in the future.

In the show, Jeff Winger, a “lawyer” with a fake law degree, enrolls in Greendale to get a bachelor’s degree after being suspended by his law firm. He meets Britta Perry, a social activist looking for direction in her life, and creates a Spanish study group to try and impress her. Britta invites Abed Nadir, a socially awkward pop culture-obsessed student, to the group and he spreads the word. Other classmates, including Annie Edison, the young overachieving student, Troy Barnes, a former high school football star, Shirley Bennett, a religious divorced mother, and Pierce Hawthorne, a politically incorrect elderly millionaire, join the group.

This show accurately represents the community college experience. Like Bellevue College, Greendale is a school filled with a diverse group of students setting goals and learning new things to help their future.

A shared feature of both community colleges is the diversity of their students. Greendale was filled with students of different religions, races, ethnicity and age. The average age of students at BC is 22.8 years old. In “Community,” there was also a wide age range, from young adults to seniors. Even amongst the study group, Troy and Annie were only 18, Britta and Abed were in their twenties, Jeff and Shirley were in their thirties and Pierce was in his sixties. At BC, you could also join a class filled with students your age or twice your age, giving you the chance to learn about the different life experiences of everyone.

Although Greendale didn’t have a Running Start program, they had many students attending straight from high school, including two of the main characters. Troy and Annie both have to adapt to being in college and thinking about their new futures. As a student, Annie focuses on trying to take the classes she needs and doing well in them, like Spanish, so she can eventually transfer to a university. This mindset is similar to that of many Running Start students, including me, who want to get an AA and/or go to another university after BC. Troy also reminisces on his experiences playing football in high school, inspiring him to join Greendale’s football team. This is a shared experience as Bellevue College offers a lot of organizations and opportunities for people to continue exploring their interests from high school.

Finally, both Greendale and Bellevue College offer many unique classes for their students to take. While BC may not have a Ladders or History of Ice Cream class, we have classes ranging from nursing to zoology. These class opportunities allow students to try new things and discover their passions. In “Community,” Britta takes a tap dancing class because it’s something she dreamed about as a child but never had the opportunity to pursue. This relates to the many students here who have been able to accomplish goals they’ve had by attending a class. While some aspects of “Community” may be unrealistic and added for comedic effect, the core of the show revolves around accurate community college experiences.