Community: Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television

“Our mission is finally accomplished, once and for all.”

…in which Community makes up for a lackluster season with an episode that shines just brightly enough.

The premise is simple: the Save Greendale Committee, having saved Greendale, sits around Britta’s bar and imagines what their lives might look like next year season.

Abed’s evokes the great Person of Interest episode “If-Then-Else” with a formulaic breakdown of future conference-room intros. Britta’s is a leftist propaganda show in which the dean is “strictly transgender and not all this other stuff.” Frankie wants to focus on actually learning, which everyone shuts down quickly. Chang’s includes a character named Ice-Cube Head who shoots funny lasers.

The Dean’s is amusingly racist: the brief and welcome return of Shirley (as well as a whole third black person!) leads to her and Elroy discussing “street wisdom” and spirituals. It would have been perfectly off-color if not for the notable absence of Troy.

Jeff’s is sweeter. He likes to pretend he’s not invested—witness his teaching style in the past few episodes—but his affection for the group has motivated him to stick around a community college he pretends to hate. When Annie announces that she got an internship with the FBI, Jeff imagines life without the entire gang and is “taken aback.”

The show flirts with a Jeff/Annie pairing as much as Jeff and Annie actually flirt, but I think Annie is a symbol for Jeff: what he might have been, a sort of innocence not-yet-lost: “twenty-five and heading out into the world.” That’s why his second imagining brings Special Agent Annie Edison back into the fold to solve the mysterious double-suicide of Britta’s parents. Jeff wants to be with Annie even if he doesn’t want to be with Annie or think it’s best for her.

Annie, on the other hand, wants to grow up. To know how to order wine, to have a resume filled with “crazy mistakes instead of crazy lies.” As long as her life isn’t a boring-ass, not-a-big-deal Marvel movie, she’ll have a lot to look forward to. And thanks to her kiss with Jeff, he’ll have a lot to look back on, even if he and everyone else have said goodbye to the conference room.

Here at Doux Reviews, we’ve been reviewing Community since 2011. Mark Greig, Sunbunny, Juliette, and I took turns, swapped out, and petered to the finish line two years after the last episode ever aired. At its best, Community was the funniest show I’ve ever seen. At its worst—the horrifically bad Season Five and a few of the episodes of Season Six—it was notable mostly for its attempts to regain its lost glory. But as Abed reminded us: it’s okay for a friend to have a bad day or phone it in. We’re still friends.

Cool Cool Cool. Cool Cool. Cool. (That’s one for each season):

• Jeff: “I have a placeholder so setup it makes analogies look like punchlines.”
Britta: “My setup lacks awareness, but my punchline doesn’t know.”
Jeff: “Abusively cynical one-liner dismissing everything you just said.”
Britta [gesturing wildly]: “Absurd reaction.”
Annie: “You guys, can we put a pin in the B story and focus on the A story?”
Shirley: “I don’t trust A stories. Never have, never will. I have a setup about a story that was so placeholder the punchline came five words early. And I can tag it, too. Ooh.”

• Jeff: “But, six seasons and a movie.”
Abed: “Jeff, I know it comforts you to look at things through that meta lens, but this is reality.”

• Seth Green in bunny ears.

Four out of four diapered deans, because this is Greendale, where everything is graded on a curve, even the episodes that are too conceptual to be funny.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Congratulations on finishing Community! It's a bit sad that it went out like this.

televisionandotherrantings said...

I think you meant Season Four instead of Season Five, Josie.

Anyway while this might not have been the strongest final season ever, or season in general I thought this finale was pretty damn great and one of the better series finales I've seen, up there with Not Fade Away and All Good Things. It was kind if vague whether they knew this was the end at the time but this was a good note to end on. Really clever and touching. Now the question is when is that #movie gonna happen.

As an aside has that image of Jeff choking out the multiple Abeds reminded anyone of a similar scene in Supernatural's Goodbye Stranger.

Oh one thing you neglected to mention was that this is the only episode where they actually use the F-word (which they could probably get away with cause of the Yahoo thing). It probably would have been funnier if they only used it once but that's still pretty funny. In addition I'm not sure the callback to Chang's "GAAAAAAAYY" bit was really necessary but those are my only real nitpicks with the episode. Oh and can't forget that end tag.

Am definitely going to have to check out Dan Harmon's Rick and Morty one of these days.