Community is “streets ahead” of the rest


There are lots of reasons I love NBC’s sitcom Community. After last night, there’s one more. One of the subplots of the episode was Chevy Chase’s out-of-touch character Pierce trying to coin the term “streets ahead” as a synonym for “cool” (or perhaps “cooler than”).  On its own, it was a pretty funny and bizarre thread. But the origin story makes it legendary.

First, the backstory: had a fan-voted “best of TV” bracket along the lines of March Madness that had fans vote for which TV shows they like more. Community pulled out some big early upsets, toppling the more popular Glee and Modern Family. The former win was especially unexpected considering the show has received some media attention for its “Gleek” hardcore fans, the type who might troll online polls.

Anyways, not long after these first and second round wins, Community creator and writer Dan Harmon made this tweet from his account, @danharmon:

He then spent the rest of the day — and week and month — mocking “amyfairycakes” (and the Botti video) for using the term “streets ahead”.

  • “Streets ahead! [trumpet] Get your lingo out of the bed! [tambourine] You don’t have to say miles, you can use the word streets instead!”
  • “Streets ahead! [twang] Light years and leagues are dead! [trumpet] use a word that makes your measurements sweeter than cinnamon bread!”
  • “They call me Streets, last name Ahead, and I’m the longest distance you ever said!” #StreetsAhead

The joke was elevated into absurdity (worthy of the creator of a show as absurd as Community) with this:

And he just w0uldn’t let it go:

  • Office and P&R are TIED in that Hulu thing 50/50 right now. Hate to see them fight so I’m glad neither is losing. #WeAreStreetsAheadOfMF
  • Also, I’m working 24/7 to get the phrase “Streets Ahead” into common parlance. The PSA if you missed it:

Fan Tim Stotz suggested that Harmon bring “streets ahead” into the world of Community, but it seems Harmon was one step ahead of him.

  • @tim_stotz : @danharmon Your hatred of “Glee” has made its way into “Community;” how long till your new favorite phrase makes it?
  • @danharmon : @tim_stotz I’m putting it in the current script, so it’ll be a few weeks. But I have to get the world understanding it by then!

He occasionally used the term out the next few weeks on his Twitter, but the real payoff came last night when the (quite excellent) episode finally aired. Phenomenal work, Harmon.

Moral of the story: If you want your stupid slang to be immortalized, make fun of a slightly vengeful, hilarious TV writer.

EDIT: Claimed by amyfairycakes and a commenter, and verified by a friend who lives over there, “streets ahead” is a British/Irish term that’s relatively common over there. Fair enough. Harmon was evidently aware of this but continued unfazed with the mocking anyways.

  • @amyfairycakes – @danharmon streets ahead is already in common parlance in ireland & UK, it’s not a wacky phrase I just conjured up.
  • @danharmon – @amyfairycakes You’re telling me the only two words you put together that moved me aren’t yours? But aren’t you a writer? You said “meta.”

Dan and Brian from Earn This now have a film review site and podcast:

The Goods: Film Reviews

The Goods: A Film Podcast

Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.

32 thoughts on “Community is “streets ahead” of the rest

  1. hahaha i love the back story for this!
    not gonna lie, i am kind of tempted to make fun of him to get my slang on the show…

  2. Streets ahead is a British/Irish expression. Hardly a stupid slang, just ’cause Dan Harmon had never heard of it before.

    • That makes sense. The term is still pretty stupid-sounding if you ask me, but to each culture their own ridiculous phrases.

      • So here’s the real origin of the phrase:

        It’s a cryptic message -a signal to the audience – and it has a significant meaning. I tweeted it to Dan Harmon many years ago.

        I’m a former naval officer and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. I have a degree in control systems engineering and I worked in electronics warfare and nuclear engineering as a Surface Warfare Officer. While I was in the service, I learned that groups like Scientology and wealthy, well-connected figures like Harvey Weinstein target people using psychological warfare tactics. They hire out private security firms like the ones Weinstein hired – Black Cube, PSOPS, and Kroll – to covertly destroy their critics.

        They have a very organized way to isolate their victims and single them out for attack. Their victims are stalked and smeared, and worse, they are attacked with the same microwave weapons that were used on the US diplomats in Cuba and China. Because these weapons are classified and given to private security firms by corrupt political figures, the victims have absolutely no hope of escaping their attackers. The process is too well-organized, and the police don’t understand it.

        Also, I learned that the attacks were extremely violent and involved sex abuse as a way to humiliate the victim so that they don’t report the crime. These types of crimes are major felonies and I was both obligated and motivated to stop the abuse and get the victims freed. So, I trying to formulate some plan to expose this organized criminal behavior without breaking any security oaths.

        I needed a way to get myself targeted by one of these groups so that I could learn how the crime was perpetrated and how the weapon is used on the targets so that I could then find the victims and set them free.

        My approach was to goad groups like Scientology and Harvey Weinstein. I wrote internet comments about them and I also wrote comments about TV/Movie companies that I thought might use these tactics against people who wrote comments about them on the internet. I knew that they hire online reputation management companies as well as people who read what the professional tv/movie critics write. (There is an eBay case that describes this perfectly. Several eBay executives and employees targeted a Natick couple using some of these tactics. They were caught.)

        Some in that industry go after their critics. Such personalities are thin-skinned, narcissistic, and violently retaliatory. As we learned in the Weinstein case, plenty of people knew that the crime was happening, and they didn’t say anything because the cover-up was so overwhelming. But many spoke up once the story broke. So, this tweet at Dan Harmon was a way to create bystanders that might speak up once I got the targeting program exposed.

        I wrote comments on Hulu pages and websites like this one to see if one of the shows might target me. I wrote fan-feedback/show ideas for various shows knowing that people in the entertainment industry will sometimes use the material without crediting the source.

        Some will subsequently target the commenter/author and smear them as a delusional person. They have a Truman Show type of attack that they use and it’s just like Scientology’s “Fair Game” attack. They then gaslight the victims and try to get them fired from their job so they don’t have resources to fight back. It’s a sort of sport, and comedians are known for this type of behavior.

        The next step of my plan involved raising awareness. I had planned to do a cross country walk on the American Discovery Trail to raise awareness of this type of “Fair Game” targeting.

        That trail is very long – over 5000 miles- and I tweeted at Dan Harmon and wrote a suggestion for an episode of Community that used the term “Streets Ahead/Streets Behind”, knowing that they would use the idea without knowing the term’s true meaning. It was a way to demonstrate that I had this intention before I was targeted because part of the targeting process involves discrediting the victim. I needed a way to regain my credibility after I had been attacked.

        So, the “Streets Ahead/Streets Behind” comment was about my intention to do a walk on the American Discovery Trail – which goes right by the front gate of the US Naval Academy – to raise awareness about these crimes. It’s also a way to say that I was on top of and ahead of the situation.

        It took years for the Scientology and Weinstein cases to become public knowledge. Many people still don’t know about the attacks on the US diplomats in Cuba and China and they certainly don’t know that civilians are also targets.

        I was formally targeted in 2012 and I found the victims soon after by describing the tactics that were used on me in an internet search. I did go on that walk in 2016. I started in Delaware in May of 2016 and walked west. Each day of the walk I thought of the many streets ahead of me and the many streets behind me – just as I knew I would when I tweeted at Dan Harmon years before. This story will eventually break too. There are tens of thousands of victims and they have been trying to get the public to understand how this crime works. Through the awareness walk, we did get some press and we got on the record. Through that effort, we were “Streets Ahead” of this problem.

        • Wow… I would love to know more about this. I came across some stories that seem very similar to what youre talking about – people discovering corruption and trying to expose it only to be targeted and made out to look crazy. I would be very interested in learning more about this. Do you have any socials we can connect on or if not comfortable sharing that, then do you have any links where I could find more information? Thank you and all the best!

  3. Thanks for making this into an article – I was having a devil of a time explaining this to someone on Twitter after the episode aired. 😀

  4. I live in the U.K and I’d never in my life heard the term “streets ahead” until it was used in that episode of Community!

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  6. I live in the UK & I’ve not heard anyone use the term ‘streets ahead’…EVER XD maybe its used in a mocking way, but I really really don’t recall it….
    Love Community & Glee if thats possible XD

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  8. The scientist character (Victor Spinetti) uses the phrase ‘streets ahead’ in the Beatles film ‘Help’.

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  10. How is ‘streets ahead’ a British or Irish phrase in any way shape or form? I’ve lived in the UK, to the best of my knowledge, for my whole life and have never heard it used until Community.

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  14. i live in new zealand and this term is common. me and my mates were like wtf when they ripped into pierce for it, turns out english is not understood in usa

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  17. British person. “Streets Ahead” is a widely used idiom, sufficiently that I find it utterly astounding that not a single person in the cast or crew of Community has ever heard of it. Especially since the writing on the show is fantastic. Or at least comical, I guess not hugely complicated, but still, occasionally advanced. Maybe you guys use thesauruses sometimes, not known. Either way, I watched that episode where Pierce repeatedly uses the phrase and just assumed the joke was that he used it in obscure, forced contexts. I had no idea that the producer or whoever the guy was was trying to mock an expression just because he’d never heard of it… What a dick. I can’t help but think it explains the later episodes where the Dr Who character portrayed by Abed uses bizarre strings of UK jargon in hilariously disjointed ways. I imagine the writer (I scrolled to top) read up on British slang and just pumped as much of it into the scene as possible. Was pretty amusing. By the way, I don’t want to see Community go under, if CBN won’t have you guys maybe you should think about airing in the UK? UK audiences are less fickle. We stick religiously to the same tired and repeating plot lines for decades. (Corronation Street, Dr Who, Eastenders) there are people who watch these things THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. Red Dwarf invented the cult audience. 8 seasons and a movie 😉

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  19. A friend and I were just talking about “Community” (because it’s a day that ends in Y). He let loose the expression, “Streets ahead” and I talked about remembering the twitter meltdown. He went googling it and came up with my name…or a slight misspelling of it in this article. Good times!

    Him: Harmon is always streets ahead on his slang.

    Me: I was so unrealistically invested in that. I saw the original twitter meltdown, and when it made it’s way into a script, I was had such an undeserved ownership of the moment.

    [He goes googling, comes up with this article, doesn’t realize it was me.]

    Him: “went back to find something that had the old theme song tweets in them because I like them. Found this:

    “Fan Tim Stoltz suggested that Harmon bring “streets ahead” into the world of Community, but it seems Harmon was one step ahead of him.

    @tim_stoltz : @danharmon Your hatred of “Glee” has made its way into “Community;” how long till your new favorite phrase makes it?
    @danharmon : @tim_stotz I’m putting it in the current script, so it’ll be a few weeks. But I have to get the world understanding it by then!”

    One letter away from having actual ownership.”

    Me: I forgot about that! Follow question: is that real? I don’t remember doing it…though it seems pretty like me to say. [I didn’t quite get what he meant, and didn’t understand he didn’t realize it was I who had originally said it, and didn’t even see the misspelling of my last name at first.]

    Him: Oh, fuck, that IS you. haha. They just got the name wrong. It links to your twitter. ha

    • Haha, thanks for finding this and sharing your experience! I’ve fixed the misspelling of your name and twitter handle. Cheers!

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