Let's just get this out there right away. I love Community, and you should too. Easily one of my favorite shows on television; the writers manage to mash together every single geeky thing I love into one program. Video games, Dungeons and Dragons, thinly veiled Doctor Who references (Inspector Spacetime?) the list goes on.
In a recent episode, App Development and Condiments, I was struck by the hilarious dystopian world the series had created in the single episode. Society had broken down, all because of a ridiculous iPhone App. And as someone who reads a lot of dystopian fiction, I couldn't help but think of what a great YA novel that would have made... and then it hit me. So many Community episodes would make for PERFECT Young Adult books.
I spent some time looking over the past few seasons, and spotted quite a few. Have a look, but be warned. Some spoilers lie ahead.
Football, Feminism and You (Season One, Episode Six): Let's start with one of the earlier episodes of Community, back when Annie was still crushing over Troy, and Troy was still all about sports. Dean Pelton uses Jeff, blackmailing him to convince Troy to join Greendale's subpar football team. Annie disapproves, wanting Troy to pursue a brighter, sports-less future, but has selfish motives. She hearts him.
So a former jock gets lured back into playing sports again by another character with ulterior motives, while someone who is crushing on him tries to push him away. YA plot, done and done.
High school sports and crushes obviously make for great YA fiction. We've seen this before in Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series (brave one-of-the-guys girl play QB, meets a guy that captures her heart), The Art of Falling by Jenny Kaczorowski (punk rock artsy girl falls for the jock), and Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (kid becomes a jock after a surprise growth spurt, struggles with love and finding himself).
Modern Warfare (Season One, Episode 23), A Fistful of Paintballs 1 and 2 (Season 2, Episode 23 and 24): Great thing about Community, is that things frequently spin wildly out of control due to an idea instated by the Dean. In this case, games of paintball that transform the campus into an absolute warzone. And our favorite study group has to band together to survive against the waves of students, faculty, and City College goons.
How many YA novels are there that share a similar theme? Band of characters trying to survive a dangerous environment imposed upon them by the governing power. It's the classic dystopian story, really. Think Legend by Marie Lu, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and this little book called The Hunger Games.
Epidemiology (Season Two, Episode 6): A Halloween party gone terribly wrong, leaves the study group trapped in a zombie-filled school, locked in by the Dean. A military biohazard has infected everyone, and the gang has to get out before the military takes them out.
Strong YA characters taking on a zombie menace? Happens all the time, and usually, there's a little bit of romance thrown into the mix. We've got Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, Jonathan Mayberry's Benny Imura series, Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly series, and the absolutely brilliant, genre-changing Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.
I'm also starting to realize the Dean is sounding more and more like a horrible villain in these episode descriptions. Just for the record, I think he's awesome and I love that guy.
Digital Estate Planning (Season 3, Episode 20): Pierce heads home to discuss the inheritance left to him by his father, only to find himself in one incredible 8-bit video game, that he has to win or else he loses absolutely everything.
A gang of characters is roped into a virtual reality, where they have to fight to help their friend? Obviously a perfect plot for a Young Adult book, especially since we've seen it before.
Ernest Kline's brilliant Ready Player One and James Dashner's The Eye of the Minds are perfect examples, though the situations in those books are slightly more dire.
Speaking of games, I feel like you can also easily rope in the D&D episodes here, with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (Season Two, Episode 14) and Advanced, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (Season Five, Episode 10).
Love and D&D? You don't see it that often, but go ahead and cast a saving throw by pre-ordering a copy of Guy In Real Life by Steve Brezenoff.
App Development & Condiments (Season Five, Episode 9): MEOWMEOWBEENZ! When a new startup shows up at Greendale and introduces an app that allows students and teachers to rate one another, madness descends upon the campus, throwing the school into a caste-based society. Characters fight back, betray one another and really, its one of the best Community episodes in recent memory.
So this plot. A number of characters are displeased about their roles in society, and are fighting back to lead the life they want. Social structures pressed down on characters by society and government is certainly a common theme in YA.
Think the Matched series by Ally Condie (society picks the perfect partner) and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series (the world makes you be pretty).
And there you have it! But of course, there are certainly more. What episodes of Community could you see working as a YA novel?! Sound off in the replies.
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