When the first reactions about the new Community season started coming out, my heart sank. I love Community. Not many shows, especially not comedies, make that deep an impact for me. The last time I let a comedy in that far was The IT Crowd. To be clear, I love Community more than The IT Crowd.
I turned down my expectation down a few notches. Hoped for the best. Some mild optimistic reactions about the new season came my way from other sources. I prayed they were right.
Community was a very rough sell to me. The first time I heard about it I heard something about this really funny show where this lawyer bla bla bla bla college bla bla bla dungeons and dragons. It’s very hard to pay attention to popular American comedies that involves lawyers and schools. Especially if they enter the geek domain, after The Big Bang Theory I just downright distrusted American comedy with geek products. Still, I gave Community a shot after a while. Because why the heck not?
That was about 4 months ago. So I don’t exactly have that deep-rooted a history with the show as many of its fans clearly do. I couldn’t wait for October 19th, the date the new season would start. When October 19th came and went, I couldn’t wait for the feeling of October 19th to come. Because that’s when they promised us Community would be back.
Having just watched the first episode of the new season, I’m still waiting for my October 19th.
This is the show I thought Community was. Or rather, this is the idea I had of the show that made me unwilling to start watching it.
How did it even come to this?
Actually, that’s not too hard to answer. It stopped being genuine in what it shows. That’s all that changed.
What set Community apart from other comedies was this genuine, heartfelt portrayal of these characters, ideas, and pop culture references. The show was built from a positive point of view that understood what it had and used it with love. Nothing about the show was ironic. Like has been said many times on the internet, where The Big Bang Theory is the show that laughs at nerds, Community laughs with nerds.
This new episode lacked that. Almost all of the jokes felt like something that would have happened in a regular Community season, but the show is unwilling to commit to any of it. It’s not being genuine with its material and forces itself to still make the references and jokes it doesn’t seem to understand.
The biggest example of the ironic approach over the traditionally genuine approach would have to be the hipster glasses. Sure, they weren’t a big thing to the overall plot of the episode and only seemed to be a set up for a really quick joke in which Jeff gives his glasses away after seeing Britta with hers… but it doesn’t feel right in a show that tends to be way more real than that.
Speaking of the lack of characters being real, when they break into the Dean’s office to prank him… Did they bash Annie’s head in with the idiot ball to make her that overly retarded? I was watching it with a friend and had to ask him if they were still in the Abed TV version of the episode or not. He had to assure me they were not.
I still don’t get where they were going with the Abed TV thing anyway. Not only because they technically did this already for the Christmas episode last season, but also because it was just not funny. It felt like a way to shoehorn that crazy old weird Abed guy in even more.
Speaking of shoehorning things in, the Dean was really bad this episode. Not to be confused with bad as in Micheal Jackson’s stellar album Bad, although you could go to say that the new Dean is later years Micheal Jackson bad. Anyway, nothing about The Hunger Deans was funny. At all.
Community went on a lot of strange over-the-top school-locking schemes, but what made these work were how detailed and intricate they were. The entire episode would focus on that one thing to exploit the situation and exaggerate on every possible thing they could find. We barely saw anything of The Hunger Deans at all. Except the dancing game that was an excuse to have the Dean in a dress and act openly gay towards Jeff. Don’t even ask how many different dresses the Dean was wearing in this episode. I don’t want to know. I don’t even care.
One of the first signs something was deeply wrong with the episode I was about to watch was the constant cuts from angle to angle every second. We now need bigger close-ups of the characters so we can cut back and forth more from different awkward angles to get a faster and more dynamic flow during a conversation. Or a headache. I’m not sure which one I got first. You don’t get to see two characters together in the same shot to get a more natural tone anymore. Viewers have ADD. They need a faster moving screen.
Oh, and viewers like that Twitter thing, right? How did that work again? Hashtags or something. Right! Let’s put a different hashtag in the corner of the screen whenever a big joke comes up to do that viral marketing thing people like so much! Not intrusive enough? Okay, how about this… We put in a fake Abed TV logo on top of the screen every now and again so people know we’re doing another one of those crazy Abed things! … Still not enough? Okay, okay, we got this! We put fake ads for random possible Abed TV shows in an overlay on top of the episode. So now we have constant cuts jumping back and forth, three episodes playing at the same time, Twitter hash-tag announcements, AND fake moving ad splash screens on top of the episode! And here’s the icing on the cake… Pierce is played by a completely different person in one of the other Community versions!
I watched the episode with a good friend of mine. He can usually laugh at really bad movies and TV shows. There were parts where he had to stop looking at the screen. Most of the time when a movie or a show gets really bad, I can riff at it and still get at least some fun out of it. Because of this, bad movies and series tend to work out for us.
We sat in silence this time.
He said they fucking ruined one of the best shows out there at the moment. That The Big Bang Theory is a funnier geek show compared to whatever this was.
I felt actual grief after watching it. It took me an hour to start writing this blog post you’re reading now. The words just weren’t coming out. This episode of Community felt like a slap in the face. I couldn’t riff at it. I found maybe one joke at the end of the episode where I felt like that was a joke Community would make, the one about the Dean and his Stapler. Once I started, the floodgates opened up and the complaints just kept piling up. So here I am, writing a blog post about my nerd show, because I’m a nerd who posts things on the internet when I want to write about it like a nerd. #NerdAgainstNewCommunity
Still, I hope Community finds its footing again. Maybe this was a fluke. Maybe the next episode will be real Community again. Maybe it’ll take a fully bad season to get to another great one, like with Dexter.
I don’t want Community to be a bad show. I want to be proven wrong about my current thoughts about this new direction really badly. Because as it is now, I’d have rather seen the show canceled than brought down to what I just watched.