Community is a fantastic show. Having binged on the first four seasons for the second time, it’s clear that there’s a lot of truth about friendship groups. I know for a fact that it mirrors a lot of the groups that I’ve been part of and I’ve always valued my time in being part of friendship groups. So, I’ve put together a list of 10 things Community teaches us about group mentality. If you’ve yet to see Community, I’d highly recommend watching it – it’s currently on Netflix. There will be spoilers, so please stop reading unless you’ve seen this awesome series.
1. Not like me
We all know that having something in common with another person is fantastic, but what’s even better is exploring an interest with someone at the same time. Sometimes that person doesn’t have to be exactly like you – often we find that opposites attract and we discover that people who are different to us often have complementary aspects to them.
And what happens when you have a group that are very different to one another? You get a more diverse group that can gel. Abed and Troy for example quickly become best friends, despite Troy being naive and not getting jokes while Abed understands almost every reference. Likewise, Jeff starts out jaded while Annie starts out innocent and hopeful. Pierce maintains attitudes unfit for the 21st century (barely for the 20th), while Britta maintains attitudes of rebellion and social progress. Each person keeps others in check.
One of the factors involved in keeping the other members in check is that sometimes things become volatile within the group. We’ve often seen battle lines drawn between the characters when they can’t see eye to eye – often threatening the group itself. Community revels in this, with conflicts that begin over the smallest things – such as Annie’s Missing Pen.
What is inevitably the case is that the characters jointly decide that the whole is more than the sum of it’s parts. The desire to stay as a group completely overcomes the explosive nature as we see every time two characters are at loggerheads.
3. Not everyone is equal friends
Not all group members are created equal. While there’s stories with Britta and Jeff aplenty, along with Abed and Troy, Annie and Jeff, Annie, Troy and Abed, Shirley and Pierce, etc… There’s very few with Pierce and Abed, or Shirley and Abed, Pierce and Annie, Jeff and Shirley, etc…
And that’s absolutely fine. Not everyone has to be BFFs with everyone else. It’s okay to hang around with another person more than you hang as a group. Other people in the group you may not have as many interests in common with them, or those interests aren’t equal and you’d prefer to talk about the latest episode of The Walking Dead with one friends rather than the latest Assassin’s Creed game with another.
4. The outside
Throughout the first few seasons of Community, it was obvious that people wanted into the group. Jack Black guest starred in the first season as a guy that really wanted into it. Chang later also wanted inclusion into the group, but without success. Even the Dean tries to get in on the group in quite a few episodes. There’s a reason for that – it’s because a group is a strong bond. They don’t just stay together because they like each other, they stay together because people prefer to be together than alone. Because when we have a group of friends, that group of friends have us.
Okay, that was a bit soppy. But when we form a group, it’s often difficult to introduce others without changing the whole dynamic of the group. The Yoko factor if you will. Sometimes the best idea is to be part of different groups – and that’s also good. Larger groups of friends are often inherently more stable and more likely to break down. It’s why there are 7 people in the study group, it’s why there remains only 6 in Friends and Coupling and 5 in How I Met Your Mother.
5. Sticky friends
This might seem obvious, but the more a group of friends stays together, the longer they’ll stay together. It’s a bigger step to walk away from a 3 year friendship than a 3 week one. Once more, the more you go through with people, the more they’ll seem like family. Conversely, the thing that will kill a group is drifting apart – especially when it comes to something else that eats up your time or if people physically move away from the area.
You can actually see this often with the group trying to take the same classes over the seasons – Jeff even tries to get 7 places on the History of Ice Cream class, while Abed goes to his happy place upon fearing what happens after graduation. In the last episode of Season 1, there’s a minor panic that Jeff may not take the same class as everyone else and the group will no longer work. Heck, in real life we often find that friendships can grow when two friends who were not very close get placed in a new group together.