Six Seasons and My Favourite Thing

There was a time in my life where Community was my favourite thing in the world. I was halfway through my last year of high school and dealing with all the stress and drama involved with that and my brother introduced me to this new show, Community. I was hooked right away – I still consider the pilot one of the best twenty minutes of TV I’ve ever seen.

As silly as it sounds, something in the show really spoke to me. It was funny and well told but most of all it took risks and had heart. It’s a show about unlikely friendships and trying and failing and trying to be a better person. I came to Community, or it came to me, at the exact right time. It was a bright spot in an otherwise hectic period.

The rest if my family were hooked as well (apart from Dad, but what does he know?) It was a nice throwback to the Golden Age of TV when families would bond over a TV show. Mum even bought us all Community merchandise for Christmas one year. Not every show is made for everyone but it still says something when a program can connect to people of different ages and interests. You know, I don’t think Mum understood all the pop culture references but she loved Troy and Abed’s friendship and she was amazed at all the genre episodes, paintball especially.  

My Community viewing habits changed over the years. Initially, I had access to the first two seasons so I happily worked through them at my leisure. Whenever I had a spare moment I had a new episode to watch – perfect for binging or pacing yourself. Usually binging though. There are too many great episodes to mention from these two seasons but Advanced Dungeons and Dragons exemplifies everything great about Community. It’s hard to go past A Fistful of Paintballs and For A Few Paintballs More too.

I was still living at home and attending university around the corner when the third season aired. It became part of my routine to come home from a Friday morning lecture and download the latest episode, which would have aired not long before in the US. I’d watch it straightaway then more often than not I’d watch it again with Mum when she got home from work. Sometimes I’d watch it again that weekend as well, if it were a particularly good one. Remedial Chaos Theory still blows me away. Pillows and Blankets still holds up extremely well and Basic Lupine Urology might just be the show’s best-executed spoof.    

The next year I moved away from home and changed universities. This made it a little harder to keep up with Season 4, not that there was much to write home about. With all the off screen drama and the changes in my personal life, Season 5 was just as tricky to keep up with, though an improvement. The pitch perfect David Fincher parody Basic Intergluteal Numismatics was a clear standout here but Cooperative Polygraphy also rates a mention.

I have to admit that due to a whole variety of circumstances I only just caught up with Season 6. I feel like a bad fan, like I’ve failed Year 12 me, like I’ve disrespected a show that means so much to me. Of course that’s silly but still.  

Perhaps poetically I was able to watch Season 6 like I did Seasons 1 and 2. Easy access to all at once, scheduling as I wanted. I tried to ration them over a week but in the end I overindulged on the second half of the season in one day. I know the later seasons get a bad rap and I understand why. Some of that initial spark is gone, and the easy equilibrium the first seasons had is put off balance by the cast changes (not to mention the behind the scenes drama). But it’s still Community.

While Season 4 has its problems, Seasons 5 and 6 have more spark than a lot of
shows out there. In fact, the poor episodes make the rest of the show even
better in some ways – well actually, if not better, more lovable. It’s a show
about imperfect people, it’s only fitting that it’s an imperfect product.

From what I understand, Season 6 got pretty good reviews but
it still didn’t compare as favourably with the early stuff. I kind of agree
with that but I do think it was the best season since the third. While some
episodes were stronger than others, the laugh out loud factor was as strong as
ever. Frankie and Elroy were fantastic additions to the ensemble and were
usually scored the best laughs – not something you usually say for new characters
in a show’s final season. Maybe it’s how I watched the season, a couple of
episodes at a time, that helped me enjoy it so much. A weaker joke or
unexciting premise can be overtaken by something funnier quite quickly. When
watching something week-to-week as it’s released it can be disappointing when
you wait so long for just an okay episode. Again though, an ‘okay’ Community is still better than most
things out there.

Looking back now, I didn’t love the first half of the season. Well, no, I did enjoy it, I just didn’t think any of the episodes were real standouts. I didn’t care much for Britta’s parents and I’m not sure the premises were as strong as previous seasons. But everything was still executed well. Harmon and co. know what they’re doing by now. And it was just nice seeing everyone again and seeing how Frankie and Elroy fit in so well. The last four episodes, however, were outright entertaining. And the finale, Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television, well it just slayed me. A perfect ending.

Like Abed says in that last episode, TV is comfort. That’s how I felt watching this season – comforted. It’s how I feel rewatching old episodes as well. Jeff, Annie, Troy, Britta, Abed, Pierce, Shirley, Chang, Duncan, The Dean and the rest of the school are like old friends.

I watched the finale not knowing it was likely the last episode ever (there’s still talk about the movie – one day maybe). As I mentioned, I haven’t kept up to date with these last few years very well and I just assumed there was another season on its way. I wasn’t ready for something so confronting, so final. I’ve been an emotional wreck ever since. While watching it, I became like Jeff, desperate for it to continue in some way, any way. But like everything, it can’t go on forever and you’re just lucky you were there while it lasted. Even better with TV, it’s always there to go back and watch. It’s an old, comforting friend you can revisit anytime. The only consolation I have is that Dan Harmon has more time for Rick and Morty.

As the show finished I was taken back to halfway through my last year of high school, almost exactly five years now, when my brother introduced me to this new show, Community. It came along just when I needed it. I’m not saying it saved my life or anything, but it made it a whole lot better. I appreciate Dan Harmon and everyone else so much for creating this wonderful thing.

For a while it was my favourite thing in the world. As far as TV shows go, it’ll be hard to beat.  

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