With a mix of shame and gratitude, I approach this post due to inspiration from a peer’s Community blog. In this particular post, she analyzes an episode from the third season in which the Study Group goes to therapy with Abed and is almost convinced that they are all in Greendale Asylum. Her review made me realize that this episode is not only crucial to rescuing the Dean from Chang but also rather obviously points up that most of the conflict within the group stems from their inability to see eye to eye.
While conflict and resolution make up the core of storytelling, Dan Harmon approached Community with such a skillful mind that made Community not just a couple story lines interacting with each other for twenty-something minutes. If anything, Community is constantly criticizing itself, a concept so simple that the show recalls to mind children’s cartoons. If the Study Group was truly as close friends as they perceive one another to be, they would never second guess Abed if he believes the Dean to be kidnapped.
From the start, not a single member saw eye to eye, and they never wanted or tried to. More than anything, they were all flung into a social group (and force!) together. Not unlike reality. Due to their stubborn perseverance, they stick it out as a group, and after a while, there is no one else. But that doesn’t automatically lead to group members’ agreements.
True cooperation and collaboration are only required when whatever conflict bigger than they are presents itself. For that, the members of the Study Group are redeemed in their flaws because in the end, they can put themselves aside. This is also eerily like real life. It is most often that greater issues are the uniting factors among differing people, and Dan Harmon perfectly captured this complex and unpredictable process in Community.
Thus, I arrive at the core of this post: why season 4 just can’t be the same. Guarascio and Port are obviously experienced writers. But they don’t see eye to eye with Harmon, and not only do they not want to but they also don’t need to. Community is evolving from its meta state, despite whatever its devout followers believe – and perhaps, if I may be so bold to play with your mind, this is Community’s swan song: the followers (like those in the Study Group) are diverse in all aspects sociologically, but when presented with this greater issue (Harmon’s absence, Community’s changes), the followers are moved to unite (outside of the world of television, in which we all live – like Abed – every Thursday night) and cooperate to make something bigger than a broken system.
Yes, I just went there.