9/22/2016

Late to the Party: Community [Season 6]

I don't consider myself a good TV critic, but I recently realized I have analytical thoughts on television shows as well. So "Late to the Party", because I talk about TV shows that people have already seen.

I think it is more fair to do it by season, while said season is fresh in my mind. I'm going to start in my home turf so I know how to gauge things that are actually new to me. I am doing a blog on Season 6 of Community, admittedly after my 4th viewing of Community Season 6.

Series Air: 2009 (USA)
Season Air: 2015
Interest in the series: Honestly I don't know. 2009 was a weird time in my life, and I thankfully don't remember much of it. I remember liking the more quirky, fictitious moments of Community, but started rapidly losing interest in television in general. I think I stopped watching Community around the time it first got cancelled, so for me that was either near the end of Season 3 or the beginning of Season 4.

Fast-forward from that point of my life to 2015. I was chasing a girl I really liked and things were going well for a few months. For some reason during that time, since I was listening to Childish Gambino more frequently or something, I started thinking back "I wonder if that show was actually better than I thought it was. I should re-watch it." This is because Childish Gambino is also Donald Glover who is the actor that plays Troy Barnes, a main cast member in the majority of Community. I enjoyed Season 1 and just kept going down the rabbit hole. It was around this time that the girl thing went way South, and there was a lot of time invested in this, so I got really depressed and most of my nights and some whole days were spent eating and watching Community. For better or worse, Community had now become my new favorite show, and still is today. After watching Season 5 all the way through, I heard Season 6 would be coming soon and it would be internet-exclusive. What a high point in my life that didn't seem to be getting any better at the time!

Even then I found myself disappointed. This is why I watched it 4 times. The second time through was to see what I missed while I worked on other stuff, and I found myself wanting more again. The 3rd time was after I bought the DVD. The 4th time was earlier this week, because Season 6 still confuses me.

Season 1 is fantastic, but sometimes it gets a bit too high-school drama for my taste (which is strange because it is about a community college, and having attended a sort of community college before, it felt weird having that much drama infused). Season 2 and 3 are magical and they are my favorite episodes of any and all television. Season 4 was really good despite the fact that Dan Harmon (series creator) was fired and only acted as a consultant for the show sometimes. Season 5 brought Harmon back, and Season 5 is also awesome. So what's up with 6?

I think there's a mental precedent set by the rest of the show that leads me to dislike 6. Season 1 is about building up the character relationships between the study group a.k.a. the main cast (Jeff Winger, Annie Edison, Shirley Bennett, Pierce Hawthorne, Troy Barnes, Abed Nadir, and Britta Perry, and yes fellow fans, I did just go around the table clockwise). Season 2 solidified this relationship and what it means in the goofiest and sometimes saddest ways possible, and that's a great thing. Season 3 upped the ridiculousness... and everything else, and also went deeper into why the school itself was important to the group, going beyond the group in a way. Season 4 grounded the show while still having the cartoonish flavor that makes the show stand out; the season is based around Jeff graduating but also has a comic-book-based origin story episode. Season 5 should not have worked, forcing the group to come back to Greendale having already graduated, missing Pierce Hawthorne, losing Troy Barnes in a few episodes, and bringing in new teacher character Buzz Hickey in a way we as the viewer are supposed to be okay with, and we totally are from episode 1. Through all 5 seasons one meme rings throughout as was promoted by fans during the times of which they originally aired: "#6seasonsandamovie".

This gives the 13 episode anomaly of Season 6 a lot of weight to carry, and probably a lot of expectations. And now I realize I've talked way too much about the past and not enough about the season itself.

Season 6 looks cleaner, has crazier set pieces, and does much more ambitious things than previous seasons, but that doesn't necessarily make it more enjoyable. With Shirley only appearing in two episodes and two new characters magically being glued on to the main cast, a lot of the final season seems more like a band-aid than a bridge to a full-length film. The first episode tries really hard to cram the reason for Season 6's existence and why we should care or believe this and including Frankie. A lot of my favorite moments in Season 6 were actually scenes with Frankie, and Paget Brewster is a great actor, but this episode didn't work too well because of it. I feel spoiled, and I think that's the problem.

Season 6 isn't bad, it just doesn't have the same charm as the other five seasons, and I think this is because it tries too hard to be the 6th season in a way that hurts it. Instead of building all of the weight of what has happened in the show to a huge climax and then hitting with a tear-jerking finale, Season 6 puts two filler characters in the main cast and tries to keep you entertained with more ridiculous scenarios that end up not really panning out in a way that is as hilarious as the past or shows significant growth in the group. Dan Harmon made a point out in the other seasons for the characters to each grow as the series goes, which is why a show about a fake lawyer, a perfectionist, a Christian mother, a racist millionaire, a naive football player, a closed off movie geek, and a self-professed political activist still entertaining, because that is barely what the show is about anymore. In Season 6, the old characters are very established and they aren't one-trick cards, but nothing very new or exciting happens to them either. The jokes are good but nothing that knocks me to the floor, and although Elroy and Frankie have their fair share of funny moments, they still feel like placeholders. Let's not forget the other two main cast members either: Dean Craig Pelton and Benjamin Chang.

The Dean actually has a lot of solid moments and I think a lot of times represents the main group's growing adoration with the school and their time spent there as the looming end of it is coming to a close for both the cast and the viewer. He also feels less gimmicky yet still unpredictable and off the wall. If more was done like this for the rest of the characters, the show would have been great. The only character that really gave this vibe off was Britta, as you meet her parents and she kind of sort of reunites with an old love interest from Season 3. Britta starts facing personal demons that make her seem more human and less of a walking mistake, which has been building up since at least Season 4. Jeff comes to terms with being at Greendale and leaving Greendale, Annie is growing up or something, and Abed is learning about society and friendship but these are all things they were already doing and have already been established. Instead of going forward with these ideas, they just flatline, so the jokes within this flatline are understandable and fine, but not profound (again, in comparison to the rest of the series).

Then Chang. Wow. I personally find it obnoxious. Which is sad because Ken Jeong is a great actor and Chang had a great arc from Season 1 to 4. I found the Changnesia thing annoying, and in Season 5 he was a bit unnecessary but in Season 6 they really push him into the main group where he really doesn't belong, and thus bringing no real mainstay villain or anti-hero to the show. You kind of just have to watch it to understand how annoying he actually is. I feel like he was thrown into more serious situations to remind the viewer that this is still a comedy, but there have been plenty of moments in this show that prove that they can do that with one line of dialogue, and it's really funny while still getting a more emotionally provoking message across.

I won't spoil the Season 6 finale, but considering everything I just said, you can already assume that it is disappointing, but considering the circumstances and again, everything I just said, I think it was the best way to go out... oh... until Chang ruins the last scene with a homosexual joke. Yeah. That was really funny following up a really amazing scene between Jeff and Annie. Ugh.

Season 6 is my least favorite season of my favorite show, but I guess in relativity to all television, it could still be worth a watch. If you have watched every episode of Seasons 1 through 5, then I think you should absolutely watch Season 6, just keep your expectations very neutral.

That's why I give Community Season 6 a rating ooofffffffff......

....


Just kidding. Even I'm not that pretentious, and I run a game review channel on the internet.

Season 6 is good but it gets desperate sometimes and with a returning great cast, it really didn't have to be, making it the worst season in one of the most original shows in history.

2 thumbs out of an anthill made of sand and tears of adult man-babies.


I'm going to do more of these soon, but keep in mind I don't watch that much of television series because I'm not a huge fan of the medium in comparison to movies and video games and mostly just video games. Expect a "Late to the Party: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend [Season 1]" some time soon, and possibly one day a "Late to the Party: SpongeBob SquarePants [Season 1]"?

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