We wanted #sixseasonsandamovie, and got so close. Unfortunately Community, the beloved cult favorite that was perpetually on the brink of cancellation has been cancelled. Sure, we’ve lost some beloved cast members along the way and season 4 was disappointing, but it felt like there were many adventures left to be had at Greendale.
So in memoriam of one of my favourite TV shows, here are five things I’ll miss about Community.
The Recurring Characters
From Star-Burns to Magnitude, Greendale was populated with some of the strangest supporting characters on television. Best of all was the way we got to know them over time. Not content with leaving them with simple one-liners, it genuinely felt like these characters were having adventures of their own. Neil started dating Vicki, Leonard reviews food products on YouTube, and Garrett… well, we love Garrett. What I wouldn’t give for one more “POP POP!”
The Dean’s Outfits
One of the benefits of a sitcom running for several seasons is that the production staff can recognize when they have an untapped resource. Jim Rash is laugh-out-loud funny on this show, from the way his hands linger on Jeff to his awkward freak-outs when he doesn’t know what to do. But one of my favourite running gags on the show was his entrances to the study room. Not content with making an announcement over the loudspeaker, he would enter in an elaborate costume complete with a pun. “It’s time to Tina Turner the clocks ahead!”
The Theme Episodes
Perhaps the importance of Community’s theme episodes is overstated when people talk about the show’s greatness. But while I feel like the hype for the theme episodes tends to overshadow what is, on its own, a great comedy TV show, the reality is that the theme episodes are pretty great. The original Paintball episode took season 1 to new heights, and “Dungeons and Dragons” remains the most compelling half hour of people sitting in chairs you’re likely to see. Personally, though, my favourite theme episode is season 2’s “Critical Film Studies”. The episode’s clever misdirection about its theme coupled with remarkable character work is nothing short of TV perfection.
The friendships in Community were always a strange beast. In the pilot Jeff only joined the study group because he wanted to get with Britta, but over time this band of misfits genuinely grew to care about each other. What differentiated this show from other comedies about groups of friends is that it was never that simple. These characters fought. A lot. Over subjects as big as secret affairs and as small as the Barenaked Ladies. The group’s friendships were complex, layered and entertaining to watch. We may not have seen a show’s core cast this toxic and funny since the days of Seinfeld.
The Way the Show Would Go All-Out
When Community went for a gag they REALLY went for it. While other TV comedies are concerned with things like “realism” or “isolating the audience”, Community knows how to commit. Whether spending an entire episode in stop motion to explain Abed’s troubled relationship with Christmas or telling a Beetlejuice joke (http://www.wired.com/2011/11/community-beetlejuice-easter-egg/) over the course of three seasons, it’s clear that the cast and crew of this show cared about the stories they were telling. They respected their audience and made a comedy that wasn’t like anything else out there.
Still, while I’ll miss Community, five seasons is a pretty amazing run for a show that was always on the edge of being cancelled. And while we won’t have Troy & Abed In The Morning anymore, we’ll always have Troy & Abed on DVD. And I know I’ll be watching those DVDs pretty frequently.