“I wouldn’t say I had no friends. In fact, if you asked me in middle school, I would’ve told you that I had a satisfying sufficiency of friends. However, the first day of high school supplied an alternative answer.
I spent elementary and middle school in a grade of 23 students. My class of 11 kids included some people I considered my friends, and some people I rarely considered at all.
I never thought of my low-pitched lifestyle as a problem—until I skidded into my first year of high school with a piercing screech.
Excitement rang its alarm at 5:30 in the morning on my first day of high school, a half hour before my digital backup. I planned my outfit down to the tee—a new red, yellow, and blue striped tee, to be specific.
I rushed to school an hour early, anticipating a single-file line of my future friends waiting for me, ready to harass me with new phone contacts.
Instead, I was deflected by this unfamiliar, impenetrable force. Cliques.
To my horror, every new student came equipped with built-in friends supplied by the vast world of feeder schools and overnight camps.
I pushed myself to inch towards them, introduce myself, integrate myself. But anxiety pushed back. A boy in the same shirt as me, covered in a thick layer of peers, strolled by. Chuckling about a campy inside-joke from the summer. My lack of presence must have blinded them. I glanced down at my shirt, identical to his, and wondered where I went wrong.
I silently suffered through all of my classes, constantly having staring contests with the clock until it relented and clicked onto the next identical hour.
I went home and locked eyes with my contact list, hoping that all my nonexistent new friends would add themselves in between blinks.
When my gaze unlocked, it was after midnight, sleep still nowhere in sight.I pulled out my iPod touch and opened the only app I hadn’t exhausted: CityTV.
I closed my eyes and randomly selected a third season episode of a show I’d never heard of. Community. Ironic.
Glazed over with layers of wit and pop culture references, the core of the show was the unlikely bond between seven strangers faintly connected by their studies. I had never watched a show that seemed to cater so directly to my interests as Community did.
The show’s cult status aided my loneliness by providing an automatic membership to a cool, underground club of fans.
Three episodes flew by that night, three more by the next night, and three seasons gone by the weekend. I realized I hadn’t looked at my contact list in nearly a week.
I floated back into school the next week, paddled to my desk, and dived into my homework. At the desk beside me, I just barely made out someone, a girl, recalling the details from the most recent episode of Community to her friend.
I slowly peeled myself from my page and turned to her. My heartbeat quickened, and I felt the rollercoaster of conversation rising in my throat, seconds away from that heart stopping apex. The drop.
Hey, are you guys talking about Thursday’s episode of Community?
A simple question to which the answer provided so much more than a mere response.
The question was followed by a voracious exchange of favourite scenes, stories, and seasons until the next class barged in and evicted us. At lunch, she introduced me to her two male friends.
Everyone, this is Josh. He also loves Community.
I went home with three new phone contacts, three lively text conversations, and most importantly, three people that made my nights a little less empty.
As my unread texts dog-piled, I thought about how truly absurd it was that Community was the key I needed to open the door to a few friends. A week later, Arrested Development turned out to open the door to another friend. And 30 Rock to another. And Mad Men to a few more.
Those friends opened doors to other friends who wound up opening doors to the confidence I needed to hold open a few doors myself.
Fast forward to March 17, 2015—the day Community’s final season premiered, and two years ago from the time this article is being posted. On that day, I watched the first two episodes with my girlfriend, and turned on my phone to be greeted by over 200 unread texts thanks to a few lively group chats with friends. Though the people in those roles have changed since that time, I can confidently say that there would no roles to fill without Community.
So, thank you, Community. I cannot wait to make some more friends when we finally get that #sixseasonsandamovie.”