Almost since its inception, the TV show Community has faced cancellation with every season ending in a neat little bow that has to be unwrapped, chewed up, and spit out in the next season. This past year, it was finally pulled from TV and picked up by Yahoo, who would exclusively air it online. After that, who knows what would happen.
Overall, the sixth season of Community is pretty good – better than I would have initially expected, anyway. The character of Frankie is redundant and flavorless, but she keeps things going. Most of the episodes are rehashes like “Modern Espionage” and “Intro to Recycled Cinema,” but they’re well done and mostly enjoyable. Yahoo’s heavy-handed insistence on defending corporations, inundating the viewer with ads, and trying to be risqué (but not too risqué) is cloying but only a minor irritant, especially in comparison with some of the show’s other problems like their offensive and insincere treatment of Ben Chang. So it’s surprisingly good.
Then came the final episode, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television,” which was an utter train wreck. This episode has no plot and relies on the old gag of multiple universes/discussing the world as a TV show/running from your feelings with fantasy. The pacing is slow and plodding, and the characters lack depth or emotion, though Danny Pudi did briefly try to inject some when discussing Troy. There’s really no resolution, and the writing was far too meta and direct about the series not continuing. There was nothing emotional or fun, and the viewer was left confused, irritated, and glad that it was over (And the fake commercial at the end? What the fuck was that?).
I can’t pretend to know what happened with the network execs during Community’s six-year run, but I can say that whoever was in charge seriously mismanaged its audience’s emotions. We were repeatedly told to forgive unforgiveable characters like Pierce Hawthorne and Ben Chang and were supposed to be content when the episode cycled back to the status quo. Jeff Winger repeatedly told us that he had changed and been changed, but we repeatedly saw him make the same mistakes and act exactly as he had in the first episode. The gang went from being a group of friends to a codependent, delusional circle jerk that got more and more unhealthy and unrealistic. And then we were repeatedly told that the series was cancelled or would end or that beloved characters would disappear. All of this contributed to extreme fatigue, leaving a once fiercely devoted following confused, hurt, and wandering.
As a consequence, I’ve given up on Community and will probably never watch it in its entirely again. I might watch through season 4 when the episodes were mostly good and consistent, though that was the height of Chevy Chase’s slow fade away and Ben Chang’s insanity, but the ending has left a sour taste in my mouth. I just wish the writers and directors had respected us enough to give us something authentic instead of more filler. That would have gone a long way to restoring my faith in the series.