Continuing with my theme of a personal blog post followed by a trivial one about tv shows, this time I present you with the best groups of friends on nerdy TV! In no particular order, and let’s get the obvious one out of the way, first:
5. The Scoobies: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (God I’m predictable)
An ever changing roster revolving around the “Core Four”, the ensemble of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer was in large part the source of its success. While the Scoobies, as they were coined, may have had their strife, they stayed a unified force through the entire show. Many episodes, and even seasons, explored the idea of the power of community. In fact, I may have published an essay on this very subject…
Sure, the scoobies may have all tried to kill one another at one point (Xander in The Pack, Willow in Grave, Buffy in Normal Again, and Giles in… well he was monstrous in A New Man, but not too murderous), but in the end, they were each others’ strength. Nothing represents this as well as the end of Season 4, in which, in order to fight an impossible foe, they literally unify with a powerful ritual. In fact, someone wrote an entire essay on the subject of community vs uniformity…
Seriously, I still have copies of it.
4. The Study Group: Community
Speaking of community…
This show really lives up to its name. While the attraction comes from its brilliant humor, nerdy references, and meta-fictional qualities,the real beauty of the show is its pathos.
The show is about how friendship and community, can elevate even the lowest of us. I would argue that it does so more successfully than any television program has. At its core, the program is about accepting each other for all of our failures. Each of Community’s brilliant characters are deeply flawed, and their relationships with one another have been described by other characters as unhealthy and codependent, but that’s missing the point: Even if a community is seen as dysfunctional by those outside of it, it’s still deeply important for those within.
3. The Gang: Todd & The Book of Pure Evil
Underneath the absurdity of T&TBOPE lies a message of friendship. Todd and his “gang” truly care about each other. Highlight for spoilers: Todd might be the scourge of the world, destined to destroy everything, but his friends stand with him, even after he violently amputates his best friend’s arm. Zany and ridiculous? Absolutely. But Todd still carries a message that friendship can withstand even the worst evil, and redeem the most villainous of us.
2. MacLaren’s Crew: How I Met Your Mother
Okay, so I might receive some flak for including this on a “nerdy show” list, but I think it counts. The show is more honestly nerdy than a program like The Big Bang Theory. Barney, Ted, Marshall, Robyn, and, to a lesser extent, Lily, are all huge nerds in their own right. Plus, the show has Whedon’s hands all over it. Just watch “Swarley”, and you’ll see what I mean.
Yeah, it’s multiple-camera sitcom with a laugh track. But where it stands out from other similarly formulaic shows is its heart (not to mention inventive narrative structure, but that’s beside the point). Its characters truly care for one another. It’s a show that has, laughable as it may be, helped me through some dark times by its message of fellowship, optimism, and love. Like Community, the group is sometimes considered unhealthy and codependent by other characters (most notably Robyn’s therapist boyfriend, played by Kal Penn) but they are family. It’s hard to judge a family you’re not in.
1. The Gaang: Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Avatar: Not just another kid’s show. Really. Few shows have as much maturity and spirit as Avatar does. Masquerading as a children’s cartoon show, the program has a lot to say about sacrifice, loss, and growing up. It also has a lot to say about friendship. Aang, Sokka, Katara, Toph, Apa, and Momo do a fantastic job of representing a group of supportive friends, and are the greatest group since the Scoobies to fight the good fight. Generally healthier than the other groups presented, as they are cartoon characters for children, they are still faced with their own internal battles as well as external, but they consistently meet them, and are stronger for it.
Those Assholes on Smallville:
A solid decade of lies, manipulations, incestuous relationships, and pouting are all Smallville offered up in regards to friendship. The relationships of the Smallville cast were based entirely on self-righteous judgment and lies. Clark himself is one of the most despicable protagonists to ever masquerade as a moral compass, routinely manipulating and lying to his friends, all under the guise of “protecting his secret”. His friends, likewise, are no better. The only tolerable character on the show was the supposed antagonist, Lex.
I still can’t believe how many seasons of that show I watched.