(The following is a spoiler-free review of the Community season/series finale. The Marvel slight is at the bottom).
The season — and likely series — finale of Community aired today on Yahoo, and it was a fitting farewell for the folks of Greendale, as the entire series perfectly collapsed in on itself in a glorious, hilarious, and bittersweet fashion.
After a the first couple of episodes — in which either the series had a hard time adjusting to the Internet, or I had a hard time adjusting to the series’ new home — the sixth season of Community levelled off into what was honestly the best season of the show since the third. Given total and absolute freedom on Yahoo, Dan Harmon created a season that explored the life of this sitcom and our perception of it more than it actually developed plots. The storylines were reflections of the show itself, and Harmon used his characters to comment both on himself, the nature of Community, and even the actors’ relationships to the show.
It was 13 episodes of meta-commentary on a meta-television show and it all culminated in a finale that essentially broke Dan Harmon’s brain wide open and poured it onto the page. The final episode — in which each of the characters pitched their version of a season seven — not only reflected upon the past six years of the sitcom, but it essentially broke down the series structure and regurgitated it back to us in hilarious sitcom fashion. It also offered several nods to the future of the series. Will there be a seventh season? “Maybe!” “Probably.” “Maybe.” Will all the characters be back? “Maybe!” “Probably.” “Maybe.”
It was a weird episode, but also unlike anything we’ve ever really experienced on television: It was as though, instead of creating an episode of TV with a beginning, a middle, and an end, the final installment distilled the peripheral ideas about what Community is from the writer’s room and wrestled it down into a 25 minutes essay on what it was like to make Community. It’s the kind of thing that only could’ve been done on this show, a sitcom that lived not only on our television (and computer screens), but away from it, as well: In the mind of Harmon, and in our very own perceptions of the characters, and the series as a whole.
It was incredible television, but more than that, it was an experience, and one that only someone that has journeyed through with the entire sitcom can truly enjoy and appreciate. If that’s the end of Community, it was a fitting one. Community may have been ahead of its time, but it will likely be remembered by television fans (and sociologists of the future) as a classic sitcom. It’s certainly deserving of that status.
I don’t want to give anything else away about the finale because it’s an episode you should experience for yourself, although for those who might have abandoned Community last season or before, there is one sequence — in which Harmon confesses his feelings about Marvel movies through his characters — that must be mentioned if only to hear one pop-culture icon comment on a different pop-culture phenomenon.
In the sequence, Jeff is talking about how he’s jealous of Annie because she’s entering into the real world, while Jeff has already settled into it. He’s made his place.
It’s basically Dan Harmon ruminating on his life.
“I don’t want to be ‘fine,’” Jeff says. “I want to be 25 and headed out into the world. I want to fall asleep on the beach and be able to walk the next day or stay up all night on accident. I want to wear a white T-shirt and not look like I forgot to get dressed. I want to be terrified of AIDS. I want to have an opinion on those … boring-ass Marvel movies. And I want those opinions to be of any concern to the people making them.”
Then Annie gives a list of things that she wishes she had in her life, ending with, “I want stories, and wisdom, and perspective. I want to have so much behind me that I’m not a slave to what’s in front of me … especially these flavorless, unremarkable Marvel movies.”
“They are SO not a big deal,” Jeff responds.
“I KNOW,” Annie says.
“That’s all there is?”
“Yes!” Annie says, but then the actress — Alison Brie — playing Annie adds, “But you get to say that! I could screw myself if I say it,” she continues, acknowledging that she might be endangering her ability to book a Marvel film, “there’s pressures on me that you don’t have to live under!”
I am going to miss the hell out of Dan Harmon asides.