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The 7 Best Episodes from ‘Community’ Season 1, Ranked

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Six seasons (and still not a movie) later, Community has reached more audiences recently than the show ever did while it aired on television. Its availability on three major streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime — has introduced the cult comedy to legions of new fans who were either too young or unaware of the underrated (literally), underpromoted show as it was airing. Centering on the misadventures of a study group of lovable misfits at the wacky Greendale Community College, Community is a mixed-modal masterpiece of 21st-century comedy that tips its hat to other genres, films, and television shows with panache. Known for its considerable amount of concept episodes, the show was perhaps too weird and edgy for mainstream audiences in the early 2010s, when standard Multicam fare such as The Big Bang Theory reigned supreme in the ratings.

The show’s first season, our introduction to the Greendale 7, is considerably more laid-back and less atypical than the show’s following seasons, which would swing between genre parodies, multiverse explorations and Claymation specials like it was nothing. Season 1 might boast fewer classic episodes than later seasons of the show, but it arguably attains a higher level of consistency as a result of it checking its swing — for the most part. So, without further ado, let’s check out the Greendale 7’s most eminently rewatchable early episodes.

RELATED: The 20 Best ‘Community’ Episodes, Ranked


7. Introduction to Statistics (Season 1, Episode 7)


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Image Via NBC

It’s not the best Halloween episode in the show’s canon — that would be Season 2’s zombie-attack show-stopper, “Epidemiology” — but this episode features both a stoned-paranoiac Pierce (Chevy Chase) and Danny Pudi’s stunning Batman impression, so it’s up there. Annie (Alison Brie) throws a Day of the Dead party for an extra-credit opportunity and demands the popular Jeff (Joel McHale) come, as he will draw people. This also being the unpopular Annie’s attempt to be “cool and laid back,” she hilariously screams at Jeff in the hallway. But Jeff has his eye on the sophisticated Professor Slater (Lauren Stamile) and ditches Annie’s party to attend the staff party instead. Slater provides a strong foil for Jeff’s wily, seductive ways. And like virtually all of Jeff’s romantic partners, the two have fantastic chemistry (Jeff has chemistry with everyone, the show will humorously acknowledge from time to time). This episode just has a bunch of hijinks, the most notable being Pierce’s backfired attempt to look cool by taking Starburns’ pills and ultimately hallucinating grim reapers, Annie’s skeleton costume, and other pieces of death iconography in a goofy trip sequence. Jeff, recognizing that his friends need him, leaves Slater to aid the age-fearing Pierce in his chair fort, making one of his biggest character leaps thus far in the show, from selfish jerk to caring group father. Every character gets somewhat fleshed out in the episode, ultimately making it a highlight of early Season 1 when the show was just figuring out its character beats.

6. Beginner Pottery (Season 1, Episode 19)


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Image Via NBC

In Season 1 of Community, Jeff’s characterization is generally the most interesting, as he was still, at this stage, the show’s main protagonist. Sure, the show’s an ensemble, but we mostly view the strange world of Greendale through his eyes (of course, that’s to change with later seasons). That’s why this episode, which finds us delving deep into Jeff’s psyche following his relative failure at pottery and his jealousy of a deeply talented fellow student, Rich (Greg Cromer), is essential. It explains that the vain Jeff only acts that way as a self-defense mechanism, to ward off failure. Also, the show’s fascination with pop culture unearths a funny gag in Professor Holly’s (Tony Hale) aversion to the pottery love scene from Ghost. His only class rule is not re-enacting that scene; there’s even a “no ghosting” poster. The episode’s subplot, meanwhile, commits to the show’s first few seasons’ habit of introducing a crazy class that no other university has. In this case, the course is sailing, taught in the school’s parking lot. It’s brilliantly wacky, with overtly dramatic music backing Captain Shirley’s (Yvette Nicole Brown) sail-hoisting instructions to sailors Troy (Donald Glover) and Annie (again, the boat is parked). Whether it’s insanely neurotic staff members, as in Professor Holly’s case, or classes that could have been designed by Britta (Gillian Jacobs) when she’s stoned, Greendale never disappoints!

5. Communication Studies (Season 1, Episode 16)


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Image Via NBC

Perhaps the Season 1 will-they-won’t-they romance between Jeff and Britta — the impetus for the formation of the study group — is not one of the show’s more original storytelling elements. It’s a sitcom trope, having been done to death through the years on a variety of shows. But on Community, (1) the actors have particularly good chemistry, and (2) dedication to romance is never the show’s main narrative fuel, lest it grow stagnant. In this episode, it’s clear that Jeff has romantic feelings for Britta, but the main takeaway is how much the jaded Jeff has come to value her emotions, as any good friend would. Britta embarrassingly drunk-dials Jeff, and then Jeff tries to restore the power balance in the two’s relationship by returning the favor.

Of course, real feelings come out… or so the show has you think before the conclusion pulls the rug out and has Britta reveal that Jeff’s voicemail for her was actually him professing his love for his girlfriend, Slater. It’s sweet to see the two have each other’s backs, especially given that Jeff’s original intent in befriending Britta was purely out of carnal lust. Friendship also plays a role in the episode’s subplot, with Annie and Shirley’s backfired prank on Señor Chang (Ken Jeong), after he embarrasses Troy and Pierce by pointing out their lack of girlfriends in class. Season 1 Chang, miraculously always funny despite being broadly obnoxious, produces the episode’s most memorable sight gag: his bumping and grinding on the women’s-pantsuit-wearing Pierce and a near-tears Troy at the Valentine’s Day dance. Donald Glover, perhaps the show’s best comedic performer, then yells “SLUT!” at Pierce after he ditches him to go get yogurt with Chang on the back of his motorbike.

4. Debate 109 (Season 1, Episode 9)


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Image Via NBC

One of Community’s threads that seems to engender the most fan discussion…

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