This season has been a great one for television. Breaking Bad’s conclusion, How I Met Your Mother’s end, and the return of one of my favorite shows, Community. For any fan of the show, they will be aware that last season was not up to the same level as the first three seasons. The end of the third season saw a huge change in the programming. Many of the top talent were forced out or quit, including the show runner and creator, Dan Harmon. As many predicted, this led to a universally agreed drop in quality. This change caused problems on the show as well.
Although no details within the cast and crew are clear beyond speculation, it is obvious one of the main cast members of the “Greendale Seven,” Chevy Chase, was unsatisfied and left the show on a very sour note. According to some of the information offered, he only filmed contractually obligated roles—and in my opinion, poorly—as well as not appearing in two whole episodes, even as a main cast member.
After the fourth season, it seemed to me that the next was doomed to fail. Donald Glover, another member of the now Greendale Six, announced he would only appear in five episodes of the fifth season. At first, it was believed that Glover chose this to focus on his music career under his stage name Childish Gambino; however, this has been found to not be the case. According to a series of posts on instagram, Glover is afraid of how others would react to his leaving and how he might not be able to get past his accomplishments to make new ones. He decided to leave the show to grow as a person, by continuing with music as well as starting a new show that he would star, write, and produce on FX.
I went into this new season with low expectations. The fourth explored so many facets of the group and closed a lot of loose ends. Jeff Winger and his father were reunited, Pierce Hawthorne graduated, and Ben Chang gets and loses Changnesia. To me, the series was basically over. That is, until I saw the premiere of the fifth season.
I don’t know if it was the return of Harmon; Dino Stamatopoulos, show writer and actor playing Starburn; or producer/writer Chris McKenna, but this new season has brought back not only the talented creators, but the witty and quirky show we’ve come to love.
The fifth season brought back not only the energy of the show, but rectified some of the problems of the previous season, most notably, Chase’s departure. In the first episode of the new season, Chase provides a heartfelt cameo appearance that gives closure not just to his character but the sour feelings behind the scenes.
But Chase’s study room chair would not remain empty for the fifth season. Instead, Jonathan Banks, famous for his role as Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad, joins the crew as criminology professor and striving cartoonist Buzz Hickey. Contrary to Chase’s wildly inappropriate character, Pierce, Hickey is a pretty normal guy, but his work at Greendale has made him lethargic and uncaring. But this changes as he joins the Save Greendale student-teacher alliance. This committee comes into being as Jeff returns to Greendale as a teacher and, with the rest of the study group, decides to better the school through a coalition to improve the school either through making midterm dances or stopping the Ass Crack Bandit. This new take has made the six seasons and a movie a reality to me, especially when I was losing faith during the fourth season.
However, I think this season of Community has the same problem as the other seasons, that you need to have known the characters to like the show. This is the reason for the cult following. The characters are fluid episode to episode, they change and grow like a drama, but as a comedy show, viewers can’t really understand this. Shirley has become more independent and strong willed through the series, Troy has become more respectful and responsible, and Jeff has gained an appreciation for friendship that he didn’t have at the beginning of the series. This character development doesn’t really exist in other comedy shows. Every week on Parks and Recreation or Modern Family, you can expect the same people to act the same way to a different scenario. By not following this mold, Community has lost the ability to have a large audience, but has gained a strong following. If you’ve skipped out of this ongoing season because the last was bad, you’ll be happy to know it’s back on track. If you want a good show to dedicate yourself to, then start at the beginning because you will be rewarded as a passionate viewer. However, if you’re looking for a casual show you can watch whenever, this is not for you.