Community’s brilliant “Remedial Chaos Theory” episode, and what I take away from it

I just rewatched what I think is one of the best half-hours of television ever, the “Remedial Chaos Theory” episode of the show Community. From a writer’s perspective, it’s a dizzying high-wire walk of invention and ambition. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the flowcharts from the writer’s room.

I’m pretty sure that there have already been masters or doctoral theses written about this one episode; in a very oblique way, it reminds me of Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life,” in that you can mine it for meanings almost indefinitely, and successfully find them, even if they weren’t actually in the mind of the writer at the time of its creation.

But for me, I think there’s a simple lesson to be learned from this story, and so I don’t spoil anyone who hasn’t yet watched it, I’ll include it inside the fold.

Here it is in a nutshell, for me: When the nice and genuine and loving guys leave the room, all hell breaks loose, either physically or emotionally. When the aggressive and rude guy who only cares about outward appearances leaves the room, everybody begins to enjoy themselves and their lives.

I think reality bears that out.

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