Community: “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” Season 6 Finale Review

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A brilliant end…and a movie?

To say that a season finale of Community feels like a series finale has become a bit of a redundant statement. The show has been on the brink of cancellation so many times, that each season’s final episode is often marked by a touch of melancholy in case it really is the end this time.

Still, season 6 has dealt with a sense of finality more than any other season. With Jeff’s fear of aging and being left behind looming larger than ever, Dean Pelton’s “Dean-ing” of the school coming into question, and Frankie swooping in to efficiently fix everything, the end seemed closer than ever. As a result, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” is a season/series finale like we’ve never seen before. It’s smart, funny, and heartfelt in a way that only Community could pull off.

The show’s meta sense of humor can often be infuriating, but here it’s put to excellent use as the gang sits around and pitches various ideas for what season 7 of their show would look like. To clarify, they are all, once again, playing along with Abed’s warped worldview. I’ve commented before that this season has seen an increase in everyone pandering to Abed’s pop culture-obsessed brain, but this exercise works because it highlights each character’s individuality.

Abed pitches a show that just explicitly states the formula for a standard episode of Community, something only Abed would enjoy (although, it was nice to see Shirley again). Dean Pelton tries so hard to be inclusive with his pitch that he ends up being terribly racist, proving once again how shortsighted he is as a Dean. Chang’s pitch is as bizarre as you’d expect as it involves a talking ice cube…an idea he got from staring down at his drink.

Britta’s pitch is an interesting one, and not just because it gets its own gritty theme song. After revealing that Greendale has become a rogue nation, her version of the show turns to Dean Pelton, who’s now solely transgender and “not all this other stuff.”

This comes on the heels of the Dean asking why he always appears in a diaper in everyone else’s pitches. Of course, after Britta’s pitch, he prefers the diaper. I think it speaks a lot about Britta’s character that she envisions Dean Pelton taking on a serious cause. Still, this is a sitcom, and our favorite goofy, ambiguously sexual Dean just wants to be himself.

Jeff ends up being the character who offers the most pitches, a slight irony since he’s initially opposed to the whole idea. Still, his versions of season 7 are the most important, as they bring his fears and insecurities full circle, and allow for some real closure.

His first pitch comes after Annie announces she’s going to DC for a summer internship with the FBI. He envisions a horrifying world in which he’s in charge of the Sustain Greendale Committee—a much better name than Nipple Dippers—with all of Community‘s secondary characters such as Vicky, Leonard, Todd and Garrett…and guest star Seth Green. It sucks, because not only is he without his friends, but these people will leave him behind as well.

Jeff then imagines a new season 7 in which Annie commutes from DC to Greendale, and then decides to stay to solve the murder of Britta’s parents (b00). Obviously this doesn’t go over too well.

His next pitch is an idealized version of Greendale in which everyone becomes teachers and can hang out with each other. I briefly wondered is this was Dan Harmon’s way of reminding us just how successful he is at rebooting his series. After all, he brought back Community after everyone had graduated, and then brought it back again when half the cast left. Here, it seems, is the perfect answer to season 7.

Or not. As Abed poignantly states, “TV is comfort”…but that isn’t something that can last forever. After Jeff’s perfect pitch, Abed reveals that he’s actually moving to Los Angeles to be a PA on a Fox show that seems tailor-made for him. This is perhaps the most startling revelation of the episode, as the one person who seemed most resistant to change has finally grown up. Yet, it’s a fitting sendoff. Abed is someone who views life through the lens of TV, and since his life has gone through so many shakeups, he’s finally found a place where he can truly excel.

Unfortunately, this sends Jeff into a deeper spiral. He envisions one last pitch of being married to Annie with a son named Sebastian. “Is this what you really want?” Fake Annie asks. It’s not, and he knows it. The real Annie finds Jeff back at the school and the two of them have an honest discussion about growing up and moving on.

The Jeff and Annie love subplot has always been a murky area of Community‘s narrative history. It’s worked on some levels to cause friction between members of the group, but it’s always been hiding just beneath the surface, and has never been fully addressed.

Here, Annie takes the lead, and tells Jeff that he should be proud of all he’s accomplished. He shouldn’t be wishing to go back to the past, he should be happy about how far he’s come. The two share a quick kiss before the rest of the gang catches up with them. It’s a bit of fan service, I know, but the conversation preceding it is so wonderful—with Alison Brie and Joel McHale exhibiting near-explosive levels of chemistry—that I couldn’t help but love the whole thing.

The actual end of the end is even better. The gang—minus Annie and Abed—sit around Britta’s bar and clink drinks. “This is the show,” Britta remarks. It very well could be. But honestly, if “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” taught us anything, it’s that we need to learn when to let things go. If this is the end, I’m ready for it. I’ll miss you Community. You weren’t always perfect, but you were one of a kind. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

– Community isn’t Community without its meta-humor, and so this week’s final ending tag is pretty much Charlie Kaufman’s wet dream.

– Was anyone else shocked by the use of f-bombs in this episode? I guess if you’re going out, you’ve gotta go out with a fucking bang.

– Abed’s departure wouldn’t have been complete without this reference to his own #SixSeasonsAndAMovie mantra: “Jeff, I know it comforts you to look at things trough that meta lens, but this is reality. TV’s rules aren’t based on common sense, they’re based on the studios wanting to milk their properties dry.” Crushed it.

– “If I had no self-awareness, I think I’d know.” –Britta

– Okay, so Harmon has to be trolling us with his jokes about the Marvel movies, right? I feel like the crossover between Community fans and Marvel fans is enormous.

– “You know what I think we should do, as a humble insider who came in and nailed it?” Oh Paget Brewster, how I love you.

– Chang is legit gay, you guys.

– Thank you all for sticking with me through season 6 of Community. A season review will be up soon! Are you all hoping for another season, that the movie portion of Abed’s mantra will come true, or that this ending is satisfactory? Sound off in the comments below!

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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