The Three Best and Three Worst Characters From Community
I fell in love with the show Community a couple years ago and wound-up binge watching the series even though the first two seasons were arguably the best and the show started going downhill not long after that. After recently learning about a possible movie based on the series, I decided to take the time to watch it again. My opinion was largely the same overall, but I also realized there were some characters that I loved while others I realized weren't as likable as I remembered.
The three best characters:
Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase): I know there are others who won't share this opinion but that's part of why he's on this list. To tell you the truth, I didn't like him all that much at first either but of the characters, he probably has the most depth.
On the surface, he's an aging racist and homophobe who has dated ideas and opinions. However, he was also the guy who took Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) in when he needed a place to live, offered surprisingly sound advice to Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) when he needed it and I think genuinely cared about the people in his study group, even when they treated him like garbage.
I think the biggest piece of evidence supporting this opinion is how the series went out of its way to replace him when Chase left the show after the fourth season, first with Buzz Hickey (Jonathan Banks) and then with Elroy Patashnik (Keith David) only to realize there was more to Pierce than just being a cranky old guy.
Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown): I think the thing that stood out most about Shirley was, of the group, she was the only one who also had the responsibility of raising a family. It added a uniqueness to her that I found easy to relate to.
I also liked how the show added a lot more depth to her as the series progressed. She wasn't just a sweet, god-fearing mother. She had a manipulative and evil side to her as well. This made her a wild card in many episodes because she wouldn't always act the way you would expect a divorced mother to act.
Annie Edison (Alison Brie) - This was a tossup between her and Troy with Annie winning because she was in all six seasons.
The thing I liked best about her was her growth. She started out as an obsessive workaholic who could easily be manipulated by Jeff but by the end of the series was a strong, independent woman who still kept her caring heart and acted like a sister to the socially dysfunctional Aved (Danny Pudi) when his best friend, Troy, left the group. I especially loved how her independence was reflected in the final episode, which saw her joining the FBI.
The three worst characters:
Jeff Winger and Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) - I'm going to list these two together because the reason for them being on this list is basically the same. While it may seem somewhat strange they would be listed since they were the whole central premise of this series (Jeff formed a study group so he could sleep with Britta), I also feel like they demonstrate why the later seasons weren't as good.
I mentioned the word growth when talking about Annie. This is a word I could use with literally any other semi-regular character on the series, including the evil and unpredictable Ben Chang (Ken Jeong) These two are the exceptions.
OK, to be fair, Jeff might have had some minor growth throughout the six seasons, but he was essentially the same person by the final episode as he was in the first one. He cared about his friends and would go an extra mile for them but was still largely a lazy individual who did the bare minimum to make it through life. He ended up in community college because he didn't bother getting his law degree and got caught. He remained at community college because he found it was easier to pretend to teach a law class than taking the steps to getting that law degree.
When it comes to Britta, I think she might have actually taken a step backwards. Originally, she was idealistic but street smart. By the end, she was the comedy relief, a woman who could barely hold a job, had to rely on her friends and parents to keep a roof over her head and botched most things she was expected to do. Frankly, it probably would have done the character a lot more justice if she had just been written off the series.
Frankie Dart (Paget Brewster) - In all fairness, Frankie was only around for the final season and had she been given more time, maybe I would feel differently about her. I'm not convinced that's the case though.
The problem with Frankie is she was basically just an older version of Annie. She didn't really offer anything overly unique to the group and her presence just minimized one of the show's best characters.
I think I might have liked her character more as a villain. The series should have promoted Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) to the school board and brought her in as his replacement. Her strict professionalism and desire to make the college better would have given Jeff and his crew a potential nemesis. Instead, she was just sort of there with no real defined role since her seriousness could easily be overruled by the dean, who was her boss.