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New NBC Comedy "Community" Addresses Fake Online Degrees

Last night NBC premiered "Community," a new comedy for their Thursday prime time line-up. Interestingly enough, the premise of the show revolved around a topic very near and not-so-dear to our hearts: fake online degrees.

The show stars Joel McHale (of E!'s The Soup fame) as Jeff Winger, a lawyer trying to earn back his law license after it gets revoked due to the discovery of some shady action. What sort of shady action, you ask? Let's just say his law degree turned out to be a little bit less than legit:

"I thought you had a degree from Columbia," a client muses.

"Now I need to get one from America," says Jeff.

A little later in the scene, Jeff snarks to his client (who also happens to be a dean at Greendale Community College, where this sitcom lays its scene) that his new diploma require a form more concrete than an e-mailed PDF attachment.

We were surprised and bemused to see a diploma mill pop up, not as a banner ad, but as a pivotal plot point in a prime time sitcom, but really it's a sign of the times as online school scammers appear more frequently and diploma mill scandals continue to rock the headlines. Some recipients (like Jeff on the show) are well aware of what they're doing when they purchase these bogus degrees, but many would-be students are simply uneducated about the difference between an accredited school and an imposter. No matter the motive, however, the result is always the same: back at school like Jeff, to get those credits and earn that degree -- for real this time.

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