Is Community back?


After a long, long wait, ‘Communit’y is back on NBC. But after all this time, is it still the same show we remember? Katie and Julia have a little one-on-one about the show’s return episode.


Julia: I’m not sure what I expected from Community, but all the months of waiting and drama I feel like I wanted more than what I got from that first episode back. Is it just me?

Katie: About two days before the show aired, I started getting nervous that it really was going to be bad. So I had actually mentally prepared myself to be disappointed. Thanks to being a pessimist, I was mostly OK with the episode … even though there were some missteps.

Julia: See, I’m an optimist, so that could be my problem. I just felt like it was a little bit of a directionless episode, like there were some good ideas but not a lot of cohesion.

Katie: I agree. There were a lot of funny jokes (“Why does this feel good?” made me laugh on the way to work the next day) and I appreciated how they wrote Jeff to really care about his friends — that he’s at the point where his loyalty to them is a given. But it did feel like too many storylines and not enough of them together.

That being said … Community Muppet Babies? Amazing.

Julia: Troy and Britta in the fountain was good, though the Muppet Babies bit was lost on me, because I didn’t have cable young enough to watch that. I liked them taking potshots at laugh track sitcoms in general – specifically The Big Bang Theory, which has been on my shit list forever. But I’m used to Community taking a more subtle approach to meta, and this was a clunky, like they were trying very hard to make a point but lacked the old, dare I say Dan Harmon-ian finesse to do it with.

Katie: The snark during the Big Bang potshots were palpable. i think the Harmon-ian finesse really comes down to the lack of cohesian. I will say that I read an interview with Andy Bobrow where he admitted there were some issues with the first episode and it was pretty much what we’ve been saying — too many storylines, not enough bringing the group together, maybe a little too much of the meta-“we’re going to be OK” thing. I guess at this point I’m thinking that most of the missteps can be avoided going forward.

The only two things that I thought were actual mistakes were 1). having Troy and Britta go canon and 2). having the Dean move next to Jeff. I love the Troy and Britta dynamic, but for me they work better as friends attracted to each other. And the Dean … I mean, they spent the whole episode telling us that they weren’t going to become the cliched wacky sitcom and then they end with the nutty Dean moving next to the guy he has a crush on.

Julia: Yes! I hate Troy and Britta together romantically. It just makes no sense to me for them as characters, not to mention it clears the way for Annie/Jeff, which I unreservedly loathe as a pairing. (They bring out the worst in each other! I will repeat this going into my grave.) And I think more than anything this episode just convinced me those pairs didn’t work together more than that they did? Which may have been the point, I’m not sure.

I feel like the Dean is a tricky character to critique on traditional sitcom grounds, though, because he is so firmly in a traditional whacky sitcom role. What makes him good is how much farther they’re willing to take the character than most sitcoms would, so I hold off reservations or judgment on the neighbor Dean development until I see where it gets taken.

Katie: I don’t agree with some other critics that are saying the premiere was bad and the show is ruined, etc. For me it had a rough start, but the characters were still themselves and there were really just a few tweaks that could have made the episode better.

Julia: I’d definitely say that the calls of a ruined show are premature. There were plenty of good character moments and humor (the Hunger Games montage was delightful) we don’t get from anywhere else. A bad Community is still a good episode of any other show.

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Photo Credit: NBC

3 Comments on “Is Community back?

  1. I’m not a fan of Britta/Troy for the same reason many other people didn’t like Jeff/Annie – because Britta seems way too old for sweet, innocent Troy. The age difference (I’d guess she’s 10 years older than him) doesn’t really matter; it’s just that Troy acts like a little boy, which makes her seem like a predator. I did like them when the attraction between them was implicit; that felt natural. Same issue with the Dean, actually – his obsession with Jeff used to be funny back when he was dropping the occasional hint; now it’s so on-the-nose that it has ceased to be anything but creepy and predatory (seriously, why is he pursuing a guy that he knows is straight? The flirting makes sense; the blatant stalking doesn’t).

  2. I reached a point where it was hard to tell the “fake sitcom” bits from the actual show. I thought this was a pretty horrible episode, but I’ve run into a handful of episodes that bad from the previous season (and I say this as someone who owns the S1 and S2 DVDs and couldn’t find a single episode that bad in those two seasons).

    Specifically on the dean, I agree that amusing flirtation has turned into creepy stalking. Also, besides being obsessed with Jeff, the Dean’s only remaining character trait is dressing up like women. Oh yeah, and he was kidnapped (?!) for part of last season. And using the word “dean” a lot. Why can’t he be wacky, or incompetent, in some other way? He’s dangerously close to being a human cartoon like Chang became.

    I haven’t given up yet, but I have a feeling this may be the season that “Community” fans stuff down the memory hole when talking about the show in future years.

  3. Eh. I’m such a huge fan of the show that I was incredibly grateful to have it back and enjoyed the episode tremendously, even on the third viewing. I love the setting, the jokes, and the characters, and everyone’s progression seems to follow a natural arc (even if the Dean is pretty over-the-top at this point, you can still trace that back to the end of the first season or so and it still makes me laugh every time).

    This must be what Big Bang Theory fans talk about when they still love the show because they liked the way it was at the beginning. If there’s a change in quality going on, it’s subtle enough that I haven’t noticed it. The show is still very much Community, and I love it for that.