If any publicity is good publicity, then Community should definitely be getting their six seasons and a movie. After the whole Dan Harmon/Chevy Chase kerfluffle this week, it was difficult to watch this episode without concentrating a little more on Chevy Chase than usual. The fact that the entire episode was a war that pit different members of the study group against each other was entirely appropriate. It showed that Pierce had no side; he went back and forth until he was just forgotten about completely.
Troy and Abed are the power couple of the show. Jeff, Annie and Britta periodically have weird love triangle dynamics, and Shirley’s the mother of the group; the voice of sanity cutting through the sound of bickering children. Pierce, on the other hand… well, he made a pretty good pillow monster. Of course, that could have been anybody.
In a cast of largely unknowns, getting Chevy Chase to do his first sitcom gig was a coup. I remember previewing Community before it premiered and being specifically interested in it because of him. Pierce started out as a fun character too; a foil for the younger generation. However, as both the audience, and I suspect, the writers, quickly learned, a character has only a short time period in which he can be considered “benignly bigoted.” After that, he just starts bumming people out.
It started last season. Pierce was just so over-the-top evil that just seeing him came on the screen was depressing. Troy and Abed were something to look forward to. Pierce was something to endure. They’ve lightened up on him a little bit this season, and while watching his scenes is no longer akin to visiting a cancer ward, it’s just served to illustrate how little he’s actually needed on the show. If Pierce were to simply walk out of the study room and never come back, it wouldn’t adversely affect the plot or the overall structure.
That’s not to say that Chase isn’t a good actor – he’s a brilliant comedian. The issue is that the writers don’t really know what to do with him, and he’s not even sure why he’s there in the first place. It’s a confusing time for everyone; why not just part ways?
As Troy and Abed joked during their pledge drive at the end of the episode, Community‘s future is certainly perilous. In order to survive, the show needs to return to humor and light. It needs the innocent joy of Troy and Abed, Annie’s confused sexuality, and Britta just being generally bad at things. Getting rid of the black hole that is Pierce would certainly be a step in the right direction.