The Community series finale came and went not so long ago. Yet the hype around the show dissipated long before their season finale aired. It’s funny that a show which was hailed as one of the funniest shows on television, and had a massive following, seemed to trickle out of media and fans’ attention so quickly, when shows like Parks and Recreations have held strong for their entire running, ending with a deserved hurrah that was viewed across millions of homes on their television live.
Community, on the other hand, began to struggle for ratings long before they hit their final season. Instead of managing to hold on until the end, the show was canceled. The fans were devastated. Until Yahoo! finally picked it up for a sixth season. Fans still hoped for six seasons and a movie, and while the sixth season came and went without much hype, the movie is still nowhere in sight. Nor are the fans, it seems.
So I guess the question is what exactly happened to Community? For a show that was so completely lovable in its prime, did it simply lose its appeal? Did it perhaps go on for too long? Did it run out of the material that once made it oh-so-funny?
Sure, Community was a really funny show. It was funny in that it seemed to understand itself in a way that nobody else it did. It understood comedy, TV and film genres, and satirised everything in a way that was completely meta. The show’s genre also gave it the scope to explore and satirise a range of things. Whether it was the Halloween horror zombie apocalypse or Abed’s Stopmotion Christmas adventure.
It was also the kind of show that could keep up with the times. Which meant that it’s zombie Halloween episode wasn’t just a satire of a genre, but it was satirising a genre that was at its prime in the media currently. It did similar things with many episodes, including an episode that explored a bleak dystopia that was created through students of the community college rating each other on a phone app called Meowmeowbeanz.
The problem is that while most people decide to watch a TV show because of the story or concept, the reason that most people stay is because of the characters. So if the story is the hook, the sinker is the characters themselves.
Perhaps this was even truer for Community because it was a show that didn’t quite depend on continuity, and there was no sequential story that fans could follow throughout the seasons. Sure, like most comedies it has its running gags. It also has various story threads that run through the seasons, such as the paintball episode that recurs every season, or the various different timelines. But the initial draw of Community is its characters. It began with seven characters who came together in a study group and bonded through their insanity, and that was what carried the show forward for six seasons. I think the show realised this for themselves too. The characters constantly referred to their own co-dependency that was definitely bordering on the unhealthy (and let’s face it, by the end probably went far past the unhealthy).
You’re The Worst
The way the show trickled out is not particularly surprising considering that with each passing season, it seemed to be losing another beloved character. By the end of its final season, the core group dynamics had changed pretty drastically, with some of its main characters having left the show, only to be replaced by others who were, at best, mediocre replacements with little to offer to the show.
Community tried to maintain its emphasis on characters with the introduction of new ones as the old said their goodbyes. But it simply didn’t work. The chemistry that existed between the old characters was something that was too difficult to replicate. This is not to say that the new characters they introduced weren’t funny, or that the new actors weren’t as good as old ones. Rather, so many seasons had solidified a certain group dynamic for the show that it was difficult to watch that suddenly change. Perhaps what made it even more difficult to accept was that the show had already referenced that even a single new addition to the group had the ability to throw off its dynamics (thanks Todd!) and while that may be a little on the extreme side of things, it’s true that the change in various characters through the last few seasons, did not help the show with its ratings.
Of course, making a commitment for six seasons (or even more) for any actor is difficult. But for a show like Community that fast gained popularity, its understandable that its multi-talented actors were sought after. It’s also unsurprising that after Community, many of these actors have continued on in other popular TV serieses. Ken Jeong, who played Chang in the show, has gone on to be the protagonist of Dr. Ken. Gillian Jacobs, who played Britta in the show, is currently working on producing and starring in the second season of Love. Donald Glover, who played Troy in the show, not only stars in Atlantabut is also the creator of the show.
Cool Cool Cool
The truth is that most TV shows don’t even get their six seasons. In fact, with every bout of cancellations, more and more TV shows get axed before their time. Unfortunately, some of them continue way past their prime too. Both of these courses are a let-down for fans. The fact that Community did receive its sixth season is a testament to there being more options out there for TV shows that do get the axe before their time. Of course, not every show is as lucky as Community or The Mindy Project to get picked up by Yahoo! or Hulu. Most shows don’t get the opportunity to make it past the network’s cancellations.
So I think, really, as fans of the show we should be happy that it managed one last hurrah with its last season. And true to its form, its last episode was clever enough to have its characters debate what their “seventh season” would be like, petering out with the hope that a seventh season could be a potential in the future, but who knew!
And who knows, indeed! The show did only air its last episode in 2015, and maybe the six seasons and a movie that fans have been hoping for isn’t as far out of reach as we think?
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