“Cancel your plans to cancel your plans for Friday, Oct. 19: NBC has decided to delay the season 4 premiere of Community.”
Excuse me. I just vomited in my mouth a little bit.
“Network insiders say that the delay will allow it to put more marketing muscle behind the shows, as resources have been focused on promoting new series that air elsewhere in the week. And depending on the performance of its other comedies in coming weeks, NBC could very well decide to move Community and/or Whitney to a different (and more desirable) night” (Via EW.com)
Listen, NBC. Just give it to me straight. We already know Community is dying. You already told us we have thirteen episodes left, and there will be no more. Watching Community season 4 will be like hanging out with your best friend for three months while you’re secretly a psychic and you know they’re going to get hit by a bus just after Christmas. Not only that, but for the last three months your friend was possessed by a demon, but the demon really loved your best friend so the demon has been emulating your best friend’s genius while silently guiding them to their doom.
The analogy might be off track. You get the idea. Life is already hard enough on us Community fans. We’re watching something we love fade away this season, and it’s fading away after being adopted by new parents because Dan Harmon got fired. Another delay is just another twist of the knife. NBC. Have some mercy.
It is my belief that every episode of Community is a little bit like a therapy session for the hordes of disillusioned 25-35 year olds who grew up playing way too many video games and being generally dissatisfied with everything in the world as a whole. Community is the show that reminded us of the lessons we learned in kindergarten but forgot: Love yourself instead of asking for it from others, be willing to help others and allow others to help you, and always be yourself. These are pretty important lessons that most people forget. Let’s face it, we’re living in a culture that demands you be rich to have self-worth, that pushes people to help themselves and exalt themselves over others, and to pretend to be an ideal instead of being real. There is no other show on television that celebrates you being the strange, off-kilter, unusual person that you really are, than Community. It doesn’t demand your normalcy to identify with it. It demands you be weird and identify with being weird for you to get it.
In that respect, that’s why it’s a niche show, which is its ultimate failing. Nobody over 45 will get it, nobody under 18 will get it. I doubt Chevy Chase gets most of the jokes on the show because he hasn’t either a) been a nerd or b) lived a life of disillusionment (actually, his absurd narcissism might be a result of both, but that’s besides the point). The show problematic in that regard. It requires your imagination to stretch. It requires you to extend your ability to fantasize, and requires you to break down your own personal boundaries about how you appear to other people. If you are incapable of entertaining the thought of crab walking down a crowded hallway, building a blanket fort, or doing pottery, Community isn’t for you, because you care way too much about your persona to break down your barriers and try something new.
It is also a show that doesn’t require relationships to be funny. I mentioned in another post that Big Bang Theory is a show built for my audience, but has sunk to relying on relationships for humor instead of building more on the characterizations that we explored in the first few seasons, and the world of humor that is there within the geek world (then again, relationship humor is normal for Chuck Lorre). Cougar Town, Abed’s first television love, is a show completely entrenched in relationships (as is normal for Bill Lawrence). Most shows are about relationships. Community didn’t require that. Hell, even relationships that were hinted at happened behind the scenes. Jeff and Britta’s friends with benefits relationship was hidden from the camera, except through Abed’s perception and the one moment on the library table during paintball. We didn’t ever see Troy’s text to Britta in season 3, nor did we see their date. It wasn’t relevant, it wasn’t important. Humor about relationships doesn’t help people explore themselves, it helps people explore each other. It takes the focus off the way more difficult task of figuring yourself out. Relationships are a distraction. Relationships are easily accessible and have no art to them, which is why they make bad, but profitable, television.
America, we don’t need to explore each other anymore. We need to explore ourselves. Community was a show about characters reflecting and making better decisions to better themselves and their platonic friendships, not their sex lives or romantic relationships. That is why it is unlike any other comedy I’ve seen on television, and that’s why it’s already a travesty that this show is being canceled as it is.
Now that my rant is done, I would like to say this: I shall forever remain cautiously optimistic. Yvette Nicole Brown did say that the new show runners are fans of Community and are keeping in touch with the original energy and warmth of the show. Plus, if these thirteen episodes are good, there is always a chance for something like this to come back to the dead. Not to mention, a delay in premiering can open Community up for a slot on a better night. The Abed in me knows that all of this is a bad bad sign. But, as Community also exists in the realm of fantasy, so shall I. Everything will be okay in the end. Sigh.