Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Lilleby Community: Notes on Community

Erik Lilleby returns to detail his concerns over the fate of NBC's "Community."


One of my first intimations with Community came in the pilot when Abed spouted a line from The Breakfast Club to break the tension of the group’s first fight; if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about.  This moment would forever endear the show to my pop-culture loving heart and begin the origin story of the “Nerd Super Hero” that is Abed.  The decision to put a character on TV who has more knowledge of TV than anyone watching, and thus reflects TV and its collective history back at the viewer, was bold to say the least. However, Abed is what modern TV needed—an emotionless embodiment of Television with a capital “t”.  The Breakfast Club isn’t TV, so maybe I mean media/culture in general; every bit of cinema art that has existed since that horse first began to run, and people put negatives in a row and focused a light and a lens around them made up the source of Abed’s collective intelligence. He loves his cinema so intensely that it becomes a tool for him to relate to the rest of the world. He is everyone who has taken art seriously enough to let it take over his or her life.

For all the golden moments this show has given us, we (I’m speaking to the huddled Community masses) have to tread very lightly as a Community fandom.  Has the show gone too far or is it just me? Am I just experiencing a rational moment while fearing the demise of my beloved show?  But there is the paradox: only a show that has accepted its fate of cancellation can create such absurd humor. 

I didn’t comment on the past two episodes because the Law & Order episode, “Basic Lupine Urology”, was a simple parody that followed a strict theme and never addressed any of the pivotal plot lines like Chang’s Army or the evolution of the interpersonal relationships within the study-group—it was a simply a diligently executed farce. But now that the past two episodes have aired, and things like Chang’s army have progressed, I feel better equipped to make assessments of Community at large.  That isn’t to say I have a right to, or know what I’m talking about, but I love this show too much to not write about it.

This show is FUCKED.  Harmon has written himself into a corner with this paradox of television show that may not have yet alienated its niche audience, but has most certainly pissed off the network enough by never being able to carry a broad audience like Modern Family. Or as Tom Haverford would say, the show makes no “boo-koo bucks.”  Are we watching the dying breathes of a show or are they just fucking with us?  They probably are, but it’s stressful to watch as a fan.

(Editor’s Note: As of this posting, Community was renewed for a 13-episode fourth season and rumors of Dan Harmon’s removal as show-runner have started swirling.)

 “Sure it’s a great show but Community won’t last,” everyone said immediately after the pilot aired. However, it’s been three years and still the show manages to carry on despite Harmon’s brazen flaunting of network television conventions. However, following college rules, we know Community has to end after four years. “No community college lasts four years,” psychiatrist John Hodgeman said.  The writing is telling us that our fears are grounded; Harmon will either permanently change the show or end it.  Everything is Changing so fast it’s impossible to know where it will go. (That Chang pun seems too easy.)

Maybe we, the viewer, are in the worst timeline, but, like the pizza-guy, we are cut-off from the group and can never really know the future of this show. The chaos of the show mirrors the chaos of being a fan of the show and I enjoy every minute of it. They (Harmon and his writers) really have me on the edge of my diapers.

How annoying was that mislead with fake-psychiatrist Hodgeman?  I mean, give us some substance right? Not another fucking clip show. Abed in counseling could have been much funnier.

When’s Morel Orel airing? Star-burns is dead but Star-burns Industries is alive and well.

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