Community ends, but perhaps it doesn't . . . #sixseasonsandamovie
Yahoo hints the cult sitcom will have some kind of afterlife, geekdom rejoices while we look at what made it great
Community, the NBC-and-then-Yahoo sitcom which has just finished its sixth season, seems set to be not entirely over. In the wake of what's been generally regarded as a highly satisfying season finale, a Yahoo spokesperson has said 'With the season six finale of ‘Community’ airing today, we’re continually excited by how much fans are engaging with the series. Now that all episodes are available for binge viewing, stay tuned for how we keep Community delighting its fans.' This, it's been suggested, is a strong hint that the show's fans' rallying hashtag, #sixseasonsandamovie, may come true after all.
Community has survived the hostility of original network NBC; the departure of its most famous actor (Chevy Chase) in season four; the firing of creator Dan Harmon (he was rehired after it became clear that the show wasn't nearly as good without him) and cancellation itself – Yahoo picked it up after NBC finally dropped it. Why does a sitcom about a group of misfits attending an obscure Colorado Community college inspire such devotion in its fans?
The answer has to do with Community's notorious degree of self-awareness. Over the course of six seasons, it's parodied the war movie, the zombie movie, the gangster movie, the space-disaster movie, the inspiring-teacher movie and the spaghetti western; it's targeted individual shows such as Glee, The West Wing and CSI, and it's played with stop-motion animation and turned its characters into Muppets. This was all very cool, except that at its best, the show used these games with form to deliver funny, true and affecting character comedy.
The characters are a classic bunch of oddballs and Community, as its title suggests, is at heart a show about how they relate to each other, which is seldom as simple as sitcom convention dictates. To point this up, pop-culture-obsessed film student Abed Nadir habitually behaves as though he's a character in a sitcom. When somebody points this out to him, he comments that talking as if he's a character in a TV show is his 'gimmick', and that he'll 'lay low for an episode' – which he proceeds to do. The other characters deal with Abed by treating him as if he has some kind of Asperger-like disorder, which is in turn taken seriously in 'Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas', an episode which used stop-motion animation to delve inside Abed's mind and reveal that he was distressed because of his fears about his parents' divorce.
The formal games and parodies all serve to illustrate the complexities of the characters. The war movie spoof dramatised their aggression; the gangster movie spoof showed how willing they were to betray each other if it meant that they could get free chicken in the cafeteria. No cliché was allowed to stand: the character of Britta Perry was introduced in the pilot as a conventional, smart, attractive woman for the male lead to be attracted to, but when her actress protested that she didn't get enough funny stuff to do, Britta was reworked into a much funnier, more fallible, even buffoonish character.
If Community does make it to the big screen, the show will somehow have to face the fact that it went from unloved underdog status to triumph. But Dan Harmon has repeatedly demonstrated that, as long as a firm grip was kept on the characters, Community could suffer any amount of metamorphosis. Here's a look at what made the characters in Community the beating heart of the show: