That show we can’t stop talking about is almost here, but is it rising from the ashes or on its farewell tour?
Many of us know the pain of loving a show that much of the world doesn’t get. Sometimes they’re one-season wonders like Freaks & Geeks, Mission Hill, or Firefly. Sometimes they get a second, third, and even fourth chances, like NewsRadio, Arrested Development, and Strangers With Candy. Community now finds itself in a similar situation, but can it become one of those rare cult shows that actually gets a fourth season? Only if people watch it when it return on Thursday.
Community, a show loved by weirdos the world over (especially at Laser Time) disappeared from the airwaves last December, leaving many to assume they’ll never see if the gang will make it to regionals. The show’s creator finally confirmed Community will finally return for the remainder of its third season next week, even going so far as to release a parody of goosebump-worthy film trailers that ultimately did give us goosebumps.
But why are we so excited? What’s so special about a weird show stuck in the ghetto of network television? Aren’t cable comedies like Eastbound & Down, Always Sunny in Philidelphia, and anything on Adult Swim creatively freer and therefore better? Perhaps, but one of the things we love about Community is the strange, dark, unique places it can go despite the boundaries of network TV.
Would a pile of three-camera shit like Big Bang Theory or Whitney explore alternate timelines or sing Seal’s Kiss From a Rose for two whole minutes? Family Guy might reference pop culture constantly like Community, but would it have an episode where the characters earnestly play D&D to prevent a suicide? Would The Cleaveland Show go so out of its comfort zone to promise a Pulp Fiction homage and instead deliver a tribute to My Dinner With Andre (with a Cougar Town monologue no less)? Will Glee ever do an episode about how bullshit Glee is? NO.
Think Big Bang could build for over three years to a throwaway joke like this and not call attention to it?
Community does all this experimental stuff within the structure of a giant corporate system, somehow existing for three years and 60-plus episodes so far. They do it without easy storytelling crutches like cutaways or talking to the camera, creating humor that relies on the richness of its characters and their personal issues, with some of the best comedic actors around.
So now it’s coming back for what could be the last time. In a world with streaming video and DVD box sets, Community will never truly disappear (and each episode is packed with tiny jokes that demand repeat viewings). And it’ll have to end sometime, I just hope it isn’t now. Community deserves to exist as long as it can, preferably for six seasons and a movie, but that’s not why you should watch it.
If you’re the kind of pop culture-loving nerd that goes to this site, Community is for you. If you’ve yet to watch it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. For that reason alone, try to watch it one way or another when it returns to the air March 15 at 8 PM. Hulu, NBC, XFinity, whatever, just watch it and spread the word. Could at least one beautifully strange network show make it to a fourth season just this once?