Caught Sleeping: On Community

A few short hours after I post this entry, I’ll be plopped on my ass on the couch eating Doritos for dinner and engaging in something I haven’t done in years: appointment viewing.

DVRs, On-Demand and piracy have all but driven to extinction the idea that viewers make sure they’re home for a first-run episode of a beloved television show, but that’s exactly what I’ll be doing tonight as Community wraps up its third season with three back-to-back episodes.

I’m late to the Community party. The pilot failed to grab me [as it fails to grab most, real talk] and as many other commentators have noted, when the show isn’t being meta or working in the conventions of television cliche it rarely ascends beyond typical sitcom tropes [something like Troy’s 21st Birthday being a rare exception].  But when it hits, please believe, it’s unlike any other show I’ve ever seen: dark, painfully self-aware, equal parts lacerating and affectionate in its parody, Community is arguably the most creative show on television right now, certainly the best comedy.

Which probably means it’s doomed after next season.  Conflicts between showrunner Dan Harmon and star Chevy Chase [never known as an easy man to get along with, if one’s to believe the portrayal of him in the Saturday Night Live oral history Live From New York], a reduced episode order for Season 4 and a timeslot change to the wasteland of Friday Nights all forecast doom and gloom for the Greendale crew, but if that’s the case, what a ride it’s been [UPDATE: Harmon announced on his Tumblr Saturday morning that he’s been fired from the show he created].

What shocks me the most about this show is how much I adore the characters.  I care about them with an alarming level of fanboyishness.  Troy and Abed are one of the greatest on-screen pairings in television history. Annie has taken my passing crush on Alison Brie and inflated it to unhealthy levels. When I see Brie appear onstage at one of Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino shows, I feel giddy because I want to believe these people are as good of friends offscreen as on. The constant teasing of a Troy/Britta hookup this season has filled me the sort of rage usually reserved for online message boards. Not because I preferred the Jeff/Britta pairing of previous seasons, but because I don’t want any of them to get involved with each other.  I’m a guy who thinks the purity of their friendship, the camaraderie of  the Greendale Seven as a study group should be cherished more than any romantic dalliances.  It’s probably more realistic to assume that the young and single members of a group that tight-knit would hook up with each other, but this is a show that’s featured two epic paintball battles, a stop-motion holiday episode, crossovers with Cougar Town and a journey in a space simulator built by Kentucky Fried Chicken: realism was never on the table.

Thankfully, I likely won’t have to worry about that in tonight’s finale, as our [expelled] study group fights to rescue Dean Pelton from imprisonment and overthrow Ben Chang’s child-policed dictatorship [and can we tip our hats to Jim Rash, the man who portrays Dean Pelton? Everyone loves Troy and Abed, me included, but really, Dean Pelton is the MVP of the show on a weekly basis].  And when it’s over, I will feel sadness in my heart, because I will miss them. And I am fully aware of how insane that is to say, but it’s the truth.  As a guy who still cherishes the two years he spent studying journalism at a college in my hometown, Greendale strikes a disturbing amount of familiar yet happy chords.

Have a great summer, Greendale Seven.  I’ll be spending my time making E Plurbius Anus t-shirts and writing Inspector Spacetime fan-fiction and looking for Annie’s Boobs in every air vent I pass.  See you in the fall.

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