I warn you that I write this review/opinion piece from an emotionally compromised position. Believe me, I understand reviews are supposed to be objective and pragmatic…even though that’s nearly impossible to do when television, by it’s very nature, is partially intended to manipulate your emotions. But I cannot offer that pragmatism to you now. Perhaps later I can look back through the clear ground-glass of hindsight and say something worthwhile about the episode’s structure and what it managed to accomplish in regards to its characters and themes, but right now I am very upset.
Community is one of those shows I’ve followed since episode #1, and it was love at first frame. I can’t explain what these characters have meant to me over the last 6 years. Like it was ordained by the will of God, the show was christened just as I was starting out in college, and it became the warm fire I could huddle around at night with my friends and classmates. Season 1 introduced us to a fresh comedy with sharp writing and even sharper performances; the characters were so focused and decisively penned they were able to feel real and cartoonish at the same time.
Season 2 built on that by way of season 1’s finale, introducing a vein of edgy absurdity that crept in at the corners of each consecutive episode. Season 3 burned the house to the ground. It felt like each episode was more daring and outlandish than the last. Tropes were smashed, cliche’s warped into wormholes and the very fabric of television ripped open. Dan Harmon overturned the table and dumped the cast of Community inside. Season 4 is ancient history and not worth revisiting. Season 5 was our recovery season and, once equilibrium was restored, the series was written with the abandon of a man who knows he’s unlikely to get another shot.
And sure enough, it was killed. Axed without mercy by NBC (spits fiercely into the dirt/carpet).
Despite being revived by Yahoo the truth is that this 6th season has felt like the moment when a loved one is passing away in the hospital and a nurse calls you in for the final goodbye.
I mean, look at Yahoo.
Really, just look at it.
Could Community REALLY survive in that wasteland? A multi-billion dollar internet conglomerate eager to compete for market share against Netflix and Amazon, but too fat and bloated to even know how to properly run a television studio or broadcast site? Just one attempt at navigating the Yahoo Screen site and you KNOW it’s where shows go to die. If the show failed to generate clicks, it is almost certainly due, in tandem, to the failure of Yahoo Screen’s marketing initiatives and their GOD AWFUL user interface, which made navigating to an episode like wandering through friggin’ Hogwarts with a blindfold on.
But it’s not that I’m ungrateful!!
Otherwise the guy who shot my favorite TV show in the head (NBC), would have been the last person to see it alive; but because of the Yahoo ambulance, NBC doesn’t get to do that to me. So for that, I am very thankful.
The entire finale is centered around the gang’s attempts to “pitch” the premise of a 7th season (school year) to one another just as the summer holiday is beginning. In essence this reveals Harmon’s own misgivings about his ability to forge ahead with the current show’s premise. In many ways this episode is one of the most thematically complete (see, I managed to use ‘thematic’ in here, so maybe there is some objectivity going on after all). We were presented with the very best elements of Community, from the rip-roaring absurdist torrents all the way back down to the sobering human moments reminiscent of season 1. It capped off more than just a season of television – it was resolving an era.
The trouble is that I was allowed to spend just enough time with Community in that hospital room to wonder if it could get better before the plug was pulled again. There is life in that body still, I can see it! I felt love and admiration and warmth emanating from within me for every episode (after the first 3)!!
And here I arrive at the end of the season…and what greets me?
It’s that moment when, despite everything in you wanting your loved one to live, you look into their eyes and see they’re ready to go.
Maybe what I was feeling was nostalgia. Maybe I’m just selfish and delusional for wanting to keep Community with me. I can’t be sure what it is. I can’t even be sure in that moment that Community was telling me it was ready to die. Let’s be frank: Dan Harmon hasn’t run out of things to say, but has his premise exhausted itself? Has it run out of ways to carry itself through the marathon of another season even IF it were somehow to be renewed? I’m so selfish that most of me doesn’t even care. I’m in. I’ve given myself over to the madness. My DNA makes up the Save Greendale Committee’s (Nipple Dippers) (Study Group) conference table.
Various sources have indicated that talks are well under way at Yahoo to determine the best course of action. As with all corporate entertainment talks, things could easily collapse into burning rubble at any moment, but at least it wasn’t an outright “Hell no, get that crap out of here ASAP” immediately following the finale. Harmon, as always, sounds completely unstable about it all and is just as likely to end up writing a marionette-outer-space-dub-step-opera as he is to return for a movie OR a 7th season of Community.
I’m saying this definitively though: If Community is willing to keep breathing, I’ll keep sitting by the bedside until it’s well enough to leave.
Or they, uhh, die…I guess…
I’ve accepted this may be goodbye but in my heart I will always carry….
-SIX SEASONS AND A MOVIE-
Although most seasons of Community end with the unsure upward intone of a query, this episode was much more sobering in tone but just as unabashed in it's style.
This review is also very bias so maybe just disregard the scores below.