Pop culture discovers community colleges

Community college satires — a TV show, a Hollywood movie and two novels — “laugh along with community colleges,” concludes Inside Higher Ed.

NBC’s “Community,” back on the air after a three-month hiatus, centers on a study group that includes a disbarred lawyer and a retiree as well as younger students.

 Community” is set at the fictional Greendale Community College. But it’s loosely based on the experiences of Dan Harmon, the show’s creator, who attended Glendale Community College in Los Angeles County about seven years ago. Harmon enrolled to try to save a foundering relationship with his then-girlfriend. She was taking a dance class there so he followed her — a common story in higher education.

The relationship tanked, but Harmon has said that he grew to like his fellow students in a biology class study group, most of whom he would never have met among his fellow screenwriters.

The show made fun of students’ struggle to register for classes before they fill up, a huge problem in California’s overcrowded community colleges.  On “Community,” students vied to win a paintball match to get priority registration.

Larry Crowne, which sent the laid-off Tom Hanks to community college to woo instructor Julia Roberts, did poorly.

Inside Higher Ed also mentions The Philip Dolly Affair, which makes fun of community college administrators and just about everything else, and Glorify Each Day, which features a part-time GED instructor at a community college.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON April 5, 2012

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K.B. Franklin

Thank you for posting this. I find the TV show funny at times but a bit thin on reality. I am now reading Community College Crisis: The Philip Dolly Affair and am thoroughly enjoying this accurate and artistic depiction of today’s community colleges. It’s about time community colleges are recognized, interpreted and viewed in an honest way from the “outside” rather than the insular position they have occupied for too long.

Prof. S. Halstead

I also have read the Phil Dolly book. Quite entertaining. I might point out that faculty are also the subjects of hyperbolic satire in the novel. One character assures the dean that the 22 online classes she teaches (for overload pay) represent “quality instruction.”

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