Episode 13 – “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television”
All season long I’ve been harping on the fact that the emotional stakes of Community season six have been slim-to-nil. It’s been bizarre, funny, meta, but never quite delivered the character vulnerability that made the early seasons so great. Now it seems that for twelve episodes, Community was just winding up for the knockout punch.
I’ve been KO’d. I’m down for the count. Game over, man. Game over.
“Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” delivers on every level. It’s funny and meta but also, as the title suggests, reminds us all why we watch TV in the first place:
TV can make us feel things.
Choosing our favorite TV show is a lot like choosing friends. At the end of the day, it’s about who we want to spend our time with. A connection builds over time and, before we know it, we love it like a real person. We celebrate its successes, mourn its losses, cringe at its injustices, and ask “why?” when it’s all over.
And over it is. Maybe. Probably.
The finale opens in a distinctly Community way with each character (and Shirley!) giving their “pitch” for season seven. Each idea is indicative of the character making it: Britta’s version is hyper-political, Abed’s is a spot-on breakdown of Community’s actual story structure, Chang’s is weird, but what begins as harmless bar-banter becomes emotionally troubling for Jeff as all the talk of moving forward triggers his season-long fear of being left behind.
As covered in previous reviews, Jeff’s wrestled for awhile with the thought of being the last one left at Greendale. And as we analyze his situation, it’s easy to understand his anxiety. His friends are young, but Jeff is old. He’s not going to be a production assistant like Abed, or an intern like Annie, or bar-back like Britta. Greendale is his future and the study group is his family. He’s been their “dad” for six years and the announcements of Abed and Annie’s departure finally confirm the worst – his family has outgrown him.
And so (also in distinct Community fashion) it falls to Annie to set things right. Alone in the quiet of the study room she lays it out for Jeff plain and simple: of course you want us to stay, but life’s not always about what you want. Being a friend means respecting what other people want as well. And of course, she’s right. Annie can’t stay at Greendale because honestly, she’s too good for it. Abed can’t make movies in Colorado, so he’s going to LA. Maybe they’ll be back and maybe they won’t. Whatever the choice, it doesn’t make the time they all spent together less special. So finally, Jeff understands what it means to be in a community: doing what’s best for the people around you. And just like that, he lets them go.
That’s a great note for the series to end on.
At Yahoo, Harmon and co. did 13 episodes with zero interference from higher-ups and stuck the landing with a sweet and thoughtful finale. After such a tumultuous journey –cast members leaving, Dan Harmon’s firing, NBC cancelling – pulling that off must have felt great. Sure, the door is open for another season, but is there anything left to accomplish? Is there really more story to tell? Maybe it’s time to move on and let the cast and crew get on making new shows with new characters for us to fall in love with.
It’s TV, after all. And in the immortal words of Abed:
“TV. It’s comfort. It’s a friend you’ve known so well and for so long you just let it be with you. And it needs to be okay for it to have a bad day or phone in a day, and it needs to be okay for it to get on a boat with LeVar Burton and never come back. Because eventually, it all will.”
Justin Rawana has recapped/reviewed Community throughout Season Six (ed. note-with great affection, humour and insight). Justin also writes film reviews for Step On magazine. You can find all of Justin’s Community recaps/reviews by searching by name on our main page.