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Thursday, May 26, 2022
'Community'

‘Community’ comes back with Yahoo but slightly underwhelms

Seemingly every year that it’s been on the air, “Community” has been moved, cancelled or resurrected. In fact, it’s happened so often that we “Community” fans have even created a hashtag (#sixseasonsandamoive) to express our exasperation with the show’s fluctuating status, the latest example its resurrection at the hands of Yahoo Screen, which prompted thousands to young Americans to ask whether or not Yahoo was still a thing. 

Yahoo promptly ordered a 13-episode season of the show, the first two of which were put online recently. This new online chapter of the show’s history almost perfectly functions for the show’s overall history, both in terms of its successes and failures. 

Much like previous seasons of the show, season six opens with a gimmick: in the past this has been a musical number, a montage or a fictionalized commercial; this year it’s a bunch of Frisbees collapsing a roof. Normally, this would be a hectic event executed with gleeful precision; now, it just feels forced, almost as if Dan Harmon and the rest of the writers knew what was expected of them and simply wrote it. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with the first two episodes of the sixth season of “Community”; they are simply written, not lovingly crafted like the “Community” of the past (except for season four—we don’t talk about season four). For the most part, both episodes are funny and enjoyable. Jim Rash and Ken Jeong are back, and do their very best as Dean Pelton and Chang, respectively, and the four remaining members of the study group do the same.

Yet, it’s getting hard to look past the group’s subtractions. Donald Glover and Chevy Chase were already long gone as Troy and Pierce, and now Yvette Nicole Brown’s Shirley is added to the list of absentees (although she does appear at the end of episode one for a particularly memorable bit). 

With the advent of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver’s Professor Duncan is also gone, presumably for good this time, and good ol’ Professor Hickey left for the greener pastures of “Better Call Saul.” So “Community” is no stranger to a revolving cast, but it seems as though they’ve finally reached the breaking point. Two new characters, a new school administrator and an aging computer genius, have been thrown into the mix but each seems too familiar to make true impact on the show while disrupting the show’s chemistry enough that it’s actually noticeable. 

I’ve been pretty hard on the new season to this point, but it’s not all bad. Some of what made “Community” great is still present in season six. It’s in the little things, like a hologram that only Jeff can see or a movie trailer for the Portuguese gremlins. 

It’s Abed filming a movie with his French fries or the Dean trying to fake a phone call without a phone. It’s the speakeasy that the gang opens in the school cafeteria and Chang’s cat bite. This season changes the narrative, with Abed wanting to change and everybody else trying to stay the same. Maybe it’s time we embraced the change too…but I can’t help but hope for something more.

What do you think of the brand new season of “Community?” Did you forget that Yahoo still exists? Let Jake know at smasal@wisc.edu.

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