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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Midseason review: ‘Community’ revamped

    Krasnoff+Foster+Productions

    Krasnoff Foster Productions

    There’s a saying: If you love something, let it go. Sometimes, however, when you love something enough, you fight tooth and nail for it, using threats of violence and fits of tears to keep it alive.

    This is the philosophy of “Community,” which was resurrected in March for a sixth season on Yahoo. After five episodes, it appears “Community” has settled into its new home. As with any transitions, there are changes, new faces and bumps in the road. Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) has followed in the footsteps of Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) and Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) and left the show. Never one to miss a meta joke, Shirley’s departure is explained via a gag wherein she is now a cook and assistant to a New Orleans detective as part of her own spinoff show.

    Of course, the gaps left by departing characters leave holes in the original ensemble that can be knitted over with secondary characters — but never truly filled. Stepping into larger roles are Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) and Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), and the gang is also joined by new characters Francesca “Frankie” Dart (Paget Brewster) and Elroy Patashnik (Keith David). The dynamic of Frankie’s disruptive injection in the first episode, “Ladders,” sets the theme and tone for season six.

    Frankie arrives as the straight-laced foil to Greendale Community College and the gang’s absurd shenanigans. Frankie’s pragmatic philosophy on everything Greendale-related rubs Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) the wrong way and causes him to question his views on everything.

    Here, Abed provides an avatar for the viewer. Like the audience, he has to question whether he should adapt to the practical facts of life and give up on Greendale — and therefore “Community” as a show — or stick to his guns and never let go. Of course, Abed (and the audience) ultimately finds that the old “Community” song and dance is still worth pursuing.

    Somewhere along the line, Greendale became the symbolic embodiment of “Community.” Despite the world’s efforts to disband it, Greendale and “Community” would not go out without a fight.

    In doing so, “Community” transitions from an ensemble show focused on the relationships between characters to a show centered completely around Greendale. While oddball characters such as Abed and Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) seem at home being stuck at Greendale, there is just something off about the fact that go-getter Annie Edison (Alison Brie) hasn’t moved on, and Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is satisfied with collecting checks as an “easy A” professor.

    “Community” cast its lot by anchoring itself to Greendale and has boxed in the characters as a result. Greendale continues to bring laughs with its ridiculousness, such as when the school gets in a bind because it gave a degree to a dog. But the magic of “Community” existed in the characters’ relationships and a fearless attitude that felt no need to follow typical sitcom tropes. This nagging refusal to let go of what prime “Community” was stunts the show’s growth. Eventually, the show must come to grips with letting go — or else choose to ride off into the sunset.

    Season six of “Community” is decent, but it can’t recreate the peak “Community” of seasons past. Much like previous fan-favorite shows that returned from cancellation on new mediums, such as “Arrested Development,” the parts are all in proper place — but the magic feels lacking.

    Season six of “Community” is like your best friend from middle school. The reunion is a bit awkward but is ultimately rewarding. You understand why this person used to be your absolute favorite, but it’s just not the same anymore. That’s no one’s fault.

    Instead, “Community” should be applauded for persevering through every cancellation thrown at it. Even if it isn’t the same, it still elicits laughs, and that’s all that matters.

    _______________

    Follow Alex Furrier on Twitter.

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