I Am Glad ‘Community’ is Cancelled
I like tee-shirts. They’re a key part of the geek arsenal, being shorthand for whatever niche we’re part of and flagging down like minded people. I like them best when they don’t directly reference the source material and require the inside knowledge to recognise it. I acknowledge there’s a snobbishness to it but it’s cool being in the clique. Anyone wearing an ‘All Hail the Glow Cloud’ shirt is cool by me. I have a TONNE of geeky shirts and it’s only the absolute favourites that end up showing any wear or tear. So before I start talking about how happy I am that Community is cancelled I’m going to show you one of my Community shirts.
Yep. It got worn so often that it has thumb sized holes in it. I was so stoked with my ‘Troy and Abed in the Morning’ that I wore it down to almost nothing. I have been a fan since the first season, written about it many times, backed it when it was at risk and celebrated it’s return. And now it’s been cancelled again I can only say one thing:
Don’t get me wrong, if the show was going to continue as it once was I would be completely thrilled. But this isn’t the show it once was. It’s still funny but the sparkle is gone. Quite a few people have derided the latest season, calling it the downfall of the show, but I found it more than amusing. The comedy factor is still much higher than other sitcoms on the air. No…something else had changed.
The absence of two of the main cast is the most obvious downturn. Chevy Chase as Pierce served as the series antagonist for the first couple of seasons and while he was missed the departure of the character served as a solid closing arc to the character. Donald Glover’s character Troy leaving after a few episodes was a far more jarring change in the line-up. The dynamic between him and Danny Pudi as Abed was one of the features that made the show so damn good, and splitting up the fan favourite pair was going to leave some fans cold.
Losing characters is a problem but adding new ones can be a riskier proposition. Seeing Jonathan Bank’s making the jump from Breaking Bad to play criminology professor Hickey was actually kinda rad. He had a great time with the role and slotted into the ensemble quite well. It was one of the real upsides to the new season. On the other hand we had a semi-expanded role for John Oliver returning as Prof. Ian Duncan and although he’s always been great on the show he didn’t have any purpose being here. His character had no arc, no motivation and ultimately didn’t do anything but hang around the set. The running joke of Chang wanting to be part of the group finally got resolved without much fanfare, which meant more Ken Jeong. Nobody wants more Ken Jeong.
The background mishmash of characters including Leonard, Starburns, Vicki, Fat Neil, Garrot, Magnitude and the like appears to have been forgotten about. They’ve been turned into scenery and have lost their motivation for the roles.
Aside from casting the biggest anchor holding back the show is the loss of direction. It’s no longer about Jeff trying to earn back his former life, or Annie trying to be perfect, Shirley wanting to rebuild her life or Britta trying to start hers…it’s just about a group of people who keep showing up to Community College for increasingly contrived reasons. Jeff gets a job as a teacher and they all re-enrolled, but after that they didn’t do anything. The flimsy excuse is that they work on an ‘Improve Greendale Committee’ but without the overarching narrative there was almost nothing for the viewers to get invested in. There wasn’t even any real relationships to work around, with Jeff/Britta and Jeff/Annie being played out and Troy leaving Britta and Abed.
If anything the writers seemed pre-occupied with trying to deride the previous season. Yes, it wasn’t as good but it wasn’t terrible. Some bad directions were taken but we were looking to the future. The quip about a ‘gas-leak’ was a tongue-in-cheek gag in the opening episode but they really needed to put that behind them.
Were the show was to continue I would keep watching. No doubt I’d still enjoy it. But how many shows have we seen run themselves into the ground after they peaked? How I Met Your Mother is the most recent example that dragged itself out long past it’s quality period. Community has long walked the line of cancellation and has made many attempts to build itself back up, and it’s hard to see it getting back to season 1 and 2 quality from this past year. I get that people are going to be upset with the cancellation but unlike some shows, such as Firefly, it’s hard to argue that Community hasn’t had a fair chance.
Time to let this one go. Enjoy the DVDs of the early seasons and be happy we didn’t see it get to a lower point. We’ve got Rick and Morty to enjoy and Dan Harmon will hopefully have something new for us soon.