As I begin this post, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the realization that I am markedly better at criticizing something than I am defending my appreciation for something. I feel as though this must speak volumes about me as a person, and I will take it up with a therapist at once.
I also think this must be a common struggle, because any cursory internet search for this season of “Community” brings up a lot of negative and very little positive. But I am certain I cannot be absolutely alone. Of the tens of us who have accounted for the show’s ratings over the years, I cannot be such a unique snowflake to remain its lone admirer.
There must be others. And I will find them.
This is not to say I disagree with every bit of criticism this fourth season has received. Sure, this iteration of the show doesn’t necessarily feel like “our show.” But. When people refer to this “our show” they are clearly referring to the first and second seasons. And that’s fine, that’s common anytime any television show lasting longer than two seasons is discussed—the superior seasons become representative of the entire series. So, sure season four doesn’t feel like those first two seasons. But it feels an awful lot like the Harmon-ized season three.
Season three didn’t quite feel like “our show” either. As a new, novel concept, season three was, indeed, inferior to its predecessors. But isn’t that always the way? When a premise stops being new, it’s not as interesting anymore. The gimmicks of meta references and parodies were revolutionary four years ago. Now, it’s just another Thursday at Greendale. It’s expected. And that’s fine. That isn’t a bad thing. The glow of newness can fade as long as it is utilized in fresh, funny ways. But, season three, with the writers clearly swaying to network demands of plot arcs while still desperate to maintain their own weirdness, tried too hard and ended up producing something, while still enjoyable, at least to me, that was at least a noticeable fraction different from what preceded it. And that’s what season four feels like. It’s not a Harmon-less world of nonsense and sad attempts at mimicry. It’s a natural progression of season three.
We are lovers of television and film. Whether we like to admit it or not, when something changes on a program we enjoy, it is challenging. Even to the most “roll with the punches” cool cucumber of an individual, a new character, new direction or new showrunner can throw off the entire experience of watching a TV show, and, because these shows can exist often as our escapes, perhaps a lone bright spot in a rough personal or professional week, it can actually hurt. We take these things personally. It affects us.
The thing that’s been a struggle for me is this immediate, internet-wide understanding of “we hate this now.” Which happens a lot, the mob mentality of pop culture, and can often throw me into an Abed-esque befuddlement, because I have literally no comprehension regarding things like “guilty pleasures” or universal shut-downs of things we all used to like. I get thrown off and discombobulated and sometimes fall down. Stop making me fall down.
It’s still my show. And who doesn’t like puppets?
I genuinely don’t understand how people didn’t like that.