Joel McHale reflects on Community season 1: 'I would've sawed off a pinkie to do it'
EW is binging Community with the cast and creator
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To celebrate Community finally arriving on Netflix, EW is binging the beloved comedy with the cast and creator.
Written by Dan Harmon, the series premiere introduced the world to Jeff Winger (McHale), an ex-lawyer who was forced to enroll at Greendale Community College after his law firm found out he faked his college degree. Cynical and manipulative, Winger hoped to breeze threw the community college without developing any attachments; however, he ends up creating a study group comprised of (mostly) lovable misfits in order to sleep with his classmate Britta (Gillian Jacobs). Suit jacket and sweatpants notwithstanding, McHale related to the character when he read the pilot.
"I think I liked the character so much because he was someone who participates with their arm extended," he tells EW in the latest installment EW's BINGE of Community. "They're like, 'Yeah, yeah, I'll do it, but just let's just calm down.' [I liked] that he was always very reticent to do anything but was game to do it. And that is kind of how I am. I'm always skeptical to a fault and sarcastic and a cynic to a fault. And it was just such a well-written script and I would've sawed off a pinkie to do it. I didn't do that, but I would have."
He continues: "You'd read some scripts and you go, 'Well, this looks like it's going to be done in a year.' Like, 'How can they maintain this level of whatever they're doing?' And this one was a sandbox that you could like [say], 'Oh, Dan can do anything he wants here and he did.' The only sort of looming goal was graduation and Pierce [Chevy Chase] proved that you never had to leave."
Community definitely rewarded McHale's belief that the possibilities were endless in that first season, which grew bolder with almost each episode. By the end of season 1, the NBC sitcom had done a Goodfellas homage ("Contemporary American Poultry") and a paintball episode ("Modern Warfare") that was a send-up of action movies and directed by Justin Lin.
"To be honest here, I didn't feel a switch. It all seemed to make sense to me," says McHale. "I just never went, 'Oh well, this show's getting crazy.' I never did anything like that."
That being said, McHale does remember how excited he was to receive each script and go to work every day. "I was getting to do what I always wanted to do. I always wanted to be on a good television show and act. And so I was skipping to work every day," he says. "I couldn't believe how cool the show was and how I got to be on it and how blessed I was. So there wasn't anything where like, 'Oh man, how am I going to do this one? This is the greatest challenge.' It was more just like, 'I can't believe I get to do this and try this and hopefully I'll be good at it.'"
For more from McHale on season 1, including his thoughts on the surprising finale, watch the latest installment of EW's BINGE of Community above. And check back on Saturday for season 2's episode with Yvette Nicole Brown and Ken Jeong.