So guys, have you heard? Community is BACK!!!!
That's right! My favorite group of community college misfits will be back on our television screens on February 7th! I'm so excited I may poop. Or puke. Or something.
It is with great trepidation, however, that I approach February 7th, because something is amiss. I fear that the great and powerful 'Community' may be starting an uphill battle which is can't overcome.
This is not the first time the show has had to do this. Rumors surrounding the cancellation of Community have been circulating since the end of Season 2, and yet it came back and got itself a third season. And then just when everyone thought that was it, it's kaput for Community, they came out with an announcement of Season 4, premiering on October 19th, and the fan base breathed a collective sigh of relief. We then sucked all that air right back in when October 19th rolled around and there was no Community. Little did we know that it had been pushed back to the spring, we thought it was over, they had destroyed us, and we were left to wallow in our own tears. The light is back, and it is shining. But until that season premiere happens, we won't know just how bright that light shines.
Community is the brainchild of a brilliant television writer named Dan Harmon. Harmon has created an amazing piece of comedy which comments on just about everything possible, is self-effacing, self-aware (without being pretentious), and really too damn smart for its own good. This is all because Harmon is notoriously strict in his control of the show. The show has been sculpted, crafted, and given to us by Harmon, and he has held tight onto the reins the whole way. I am not sorry for that in the slightest. The show has so much heart because it doesn't apologize for what it is. It doesn't go out of its way to try and get a broader audience. It doesn't exist to appeal to anyone, it hopes that someone is willing to watch it, and it does what it wants. This is not the kind of show that Television Producers like to get behind, in other words. Where they wanted ratings and cash, Harmon wanted quality. He has been at odds with the producers since the first season, and so it is no surprise, that after three seasons, begging him to open it up to a wider audience base, they fired him.
The plot has played out over about a year and a half in various forms. Mostly, the drama seems to be coming from either Harmon, or one of the show's biggest draws, Chevy Chase. The first major conflict seemed to be when Harmon was angry with Chase for walking off the set in the middle of shooting the season 3 finale. (Chase says he wasn't given a script until the last minute and was frustrated that everything seemed to be slapped together). This little story made a small news wave as tweets and posts went out from crew members announcing Chase's departure from set. Then things got personal.
First Harmon publicly shamed Chase by delivering a "f*** you, Chevy" speech at the show's Season 3 wrap party. He then asked the cast and crew to join him in saying "F*** You, Chevy" at the party. This was in front of Chase's wife and daughter. It's important to note that no one seems to have approved of Harmon's behavior, most of the cast and crew has carefully avoided talking about it, but everyone seems to be on Chase's side here. Chase, then one-upped Harmon with a nasty, R-Rated voicemail declaring him everything terrible under the sun. You'd think that Harmon would reflect on his bad ways, and decide to let it go. Unfortunately Harmon has a notoriously short fuse, so he instead decided to play the voicemail for a crowd of 150 during a small stand up set he was doing. In doing so, the feud was officially cemented. I mean it's about as childish as you can get.
All of those things had Community fans distraught. Here was our icon, mr. Dan Harmon, acting like an asshat. But he was acting like an asshat, because our comic genius, Chevy Chase, was acting like an asshat. They both together made a pair of remarkable asshats. Sure cast members tried to laugh it off, or mark it as no big deal. But the fact is everyone seems worried. Then, to make matters worse, Chase came out and stated the show was, "the lowest form of television". So what were fans to think of all this? We thought what Joel McHale thought. It's just Chevy being Chevy. He's a big personality, and he'll be fine with it. Then Chevy announced abruptly it was over. Pierce Hawthorne had run his course, and he is out. This all came after an incident while filming Season 4, where Chase, increasingly annoyed at the lines he had to say which he found offensive, was quoted saying, "Next thing you know I'll be calling Troy a N*****".
You just can't make this stuff up.
Before this happened, however. NBC tried to patch things up with Chase and get rid of the thing that was in his way. Harmon. The creator. The overlord. The man who crafted the show and gave us brilliance. And now both he, and the beloved Pierce Hawthorne are gone.
So yes, I think Community has a huge uphill battle to fight. New show-runners, and being pitted against 'The Big Bang Theory', and 'American Idol' on Thursday Nights. We've lost one of our favorite beloved characters, and it sounds like he's not written out, but excused abruptly. We have the show taking a new direction, and two of the front runners at the helm missing. The show seems like its in dire straits.
Despite all the forces against it in the past, Community has found a light-hearted way to remind everyone that it's still going. Deep into the second season, as we were preparing for the possible cancellation, Abed runs into the Cafeteria and...well...I'll let you see for yourselves.
Six Season and a Movie has become the anthem of Community. In the face of adversity they continue to try and get it. They also continuously reference Abed's fear of his favorite shows being cancelled, and the cast's attempts to make it better for him. They reference the cult-classic Firefly (coincidentally my favorite show of all time) repeatedly as Abed and Troy try and get the show brought back on the air. They finished the final episode of Season 3 with a giant hashtag for all us fan to hold on to. #sixseasonsandamovie
And we were off to the races. Fans have been fighting to keep the show running, and we have all been promoting it as much as possible. The extra break from the start of Season 4 has allowed me to get 5 new people hooked on the show, and they are now racing to get caught up as we come up on the impending date of February 7th.
So with all that, why did I title this post the way I did? Well I agree with my earlier statement.
"You just can't make this stuff up".
Or can you? I don't believe it. It's too fantastical a story. I get that people have egos but this show has been too self-aware, and too meta, and too well crafted to have its front runner unceremoniously ousted, to find out that he had been fired through an Entertainment Weekly Headline. To have a crowd favorite just up and leave in the middle of a season. The show has broken new barriers with how meta it gets, with what it calls reality and what is fiction. They consistently give us a new level to think on, often wondering if the actors within the show are commenting on the show, or the characters in the show are remarking on the absurdity of their world, or the characters in the show are remarking on the absurdity of the actors commenting on the absurdity of the show, or so on and so forth. In short, you're never quite sure if Community is being self-aware, or merely strange.
In my perfect world? All of this is just Community taking the Meta step one giant leap farther, and this time, NBC jumping on for the ride. In my perfect world, the premiere of season 4 goes like this:
As we all know, Jeff Winger is introduced to the show in the pilot of season 1 as a disgraced lawyer, returning to community college to get a real degree before his disbarment hearing. (A happening which has just sort of been forgotten and ignored, I'm wondering when they'll bring it back to light). Well I think they should start season 4 the same way. In fact, I think (well I don't think, but I hope) that all the off-set drama, was NBC's brilliant marketing ploy to shed some light on a show struggling to get new viewers. I think we open the fourth season with an episode featuring Dan Harmon as Dan Harmon, a disgraced Television Showrunner who has been unceremoniously fired from his job as a primetime TV show executive, and now he's looking to get a degree so he can start his career over. I think the group should welcome him with open arms.
I think as the episode goes on, Chevy Chase's Pierce Hawthorne gets more and more jealous at the group's acceptance of Dan, given that he has had to work so hard for love and affection within the group. This leads to all out confrontations between Harmon and Hawthorne, resulting in many a nasty voicemail left on Harmon's phone, which he readily shares with the rest of the group. At the end of the episode, Harmon announces his departure from the community college, the lifestyle isn't for him. And he returns to grovel and get his job back.
At this point NBC puts out that all of this, ALL OF IT has been an act, that Dan Harmon is still in control, and that all the fights between Harmon and Chase were merely publicity stunts for the show.
The only question is, how then do they make Chase's sudden departure into a publicity stunt? Now they're getting brilliant. NBC then announces that despite Harmon's real intentions being pure, and Harmon and Chase having no problems, it is true that Chase is leaving show for artistic differences. We lose Hawthorne near the end of the season. We're given some BS statement delivered by a character other than Hawthorne about why he's gone. Fast forward to the end of Season 4 and NBC announces they don't have any plan yet to renew the show because they don't think it has good enough ratings.
The fans go wild.
They fight, tooth and nail, and begrudgingly, NBC picks it up for Season 5. Season 5 begins wherever Season 4 leaves off (and given how crazy Season 3 ended, that could be anywhere), and we get halfway through, to have a reappearance of a familiar face. Pierce Hawthorne is back. It turns out that there were no artistic differences, Chase's departure was yet ANOTHER setup for a publicity stunt they hadn't even pulled yet, in a season they never confirmed they were making, because they wanted the grassroots campaigns to do the job for them. It's worked so far.
The fans have kept the show alive, and now, if I'm right (*DISCLAIMER* I'M LIKELY 100% WRONG) they've just created a very Community way of asking for the help. They've created a meta show, with a meta concept, which will let us have our Harmon back, and cause one hell of a laugh when we realize just how meta it all is.
So that is what I hope is about to happen on February 7th. It is likely that with the premiere of Season 4, my dreams will be dashed. Harmon really will be gone, and a few short weeks later I'll lose the ever-hilarious Chevy Chase as well. But until that happens, I will hold on to Six Seasons and A Movie, because we're going to get them, whether NBC wants to or not. They've tried to cancel twice now, and failed, we've only got to pull it off two more times and a movie! Give that Firefly only got 13 episodes, and the fans got them a movie, I think we're on the right path. If Harmon and Chase are gone? We will STILL fight to keep Community and alive.
I guess I'll see you all February 7th!
Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.