Linda Holmes at NPR just wrote an amazing article on Community. It explores some of the funniest moments of the first season and a wonderful explanation of “Streets ahead.”
Streets ahead. The first thing you need to know in order to appreciate all the levels at which this scene is firing is that show creator Dan Harmon had a run-in ("run-in" actually seems a little too hostile for what it was) with someone on Twitter who tossed out the insult, "Both Modern Family and Glee are streets ahead of your meta bull----." (Without the dashes.)
Harmon found the phrase "streets ahead," even (or maybe especially) in an insult directed at himself, absolutely hilarious, and he's been using it ever since. If you run a search on the phrase on this archive of his tweets, you will see just how much he loves it. And now, it made it into his show.
What's great about this particular inside joke is that even if you don't follow Harmon on Twitter and have no familiarity with this at all, it's still funny. But if you know that he's essentially teasing an obnoxious detractor, it's much funnier.
Check out the full article and some videos here: