Culture of Pop

Community Review: 6.13: Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television

Sony Pictures has confirmed that a Community movie is in development and creator Dan Harmon has stated that he believes it could go on beyond six seasons and referred to season six as the first chapter of a larger story. Regardless of these facts, with “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television”, Community has essentially given us a perfect series finale.

The episode takes place at the end of the semester, with the Save Greendale Committee celebrating successfully saving Greendale for at least another year. While they’re out celebrating, they start playfully discussing what a “season seven” of the show Abed imagines their lives to be would look like. This gives us some great gags, but the emotional investment isn’t fully ramped up until Jeff finds out that Annie is going to an internship in Washington D.C. that could potentially give her further opportunities outside Colorado. Jeff imagines a version of season seven where everyone has left him and then urgently asks everyone to imagine a workable season seven where they’re all together. When he settles on a version where Annie and Abed are both teaching at Greendale and Britta is the school psychologist, everyone appreciates how happy and evergreen it is, but when Jeff says they should start trying to make it happen, his bubble is burst with the news that Abed is also leaving. He’s going to L.A. and doesn’t know if he’ll come back.

As they talk things out, Jeff is able to accept that things will change, which is dramatized through him dropping Annie and Abed off at the airport. After this drop off, he heads back to Britta’s bar where he hangs out with her, Craig, Frankie and Chang. Britta happily says, “This should be the show.” In this moment, both Jeff and the viewer are shown how things can change for the group and it can still be okay.

With its ultimate message of friendship and love for those around you, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” reminded me a lot of the Cougar Town series finale. But, that show was about a group of adults who’d mostly settled into the life they’d always have. Jules’s declaration that this is just about what their lives will always be like, being together in their little neighborhood, was a perfect ending for that show but wouldn’t make sense for Community. As Annie says in one of the versions of season 7 where she’s still there– shouldn’t she want more? Shouldn’t the audience feel bad for her? Community is a show that necessitates change and moving forward. Whether or not Jeff likes it– whether or not the viewer likes it– the version of this show where they all stay together in the same circumstances doesn’t make sense. And as we see in the final scenes, that’s okay.

“Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” manages to perfectly be everything it needs to be– a celebration of the characters, a reassurance that future seasons or a movie could be interesting and not feel unnecessary or drawn out and a nice ending for the show if that’s what you want it to be. Two moments that really stood out to me as especially excellent and representative of Community at its absolute best:

In Britta’s imagining of the ideal season seven, the Dean announces that he (she in this universe) is now a transgender woman. She proudly declares that she’s just transgender without all that other stuff, a respectful portrayal of a real thing. Back in reality, Craig is completely insulted and asks, “Without all that other stuff? Thanks, Britta.” Much like the episode “Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing”, this moment made me appreciate how much, as much as Craig’s characterization has been uneven at times, they’ve always let him  be a complicated character who is just who he is. Britta’s version of Craig reminded me of Glee‘s portrayal of Sheldon Beiste– I appreciated it, but at the same time he talked about his transition in such clinical terms it, at times, felt like they’d copy and pasted the Wikipedia on transgender. Community has made it clear their characters are who they are above all else and acknowledges that in the real world not everyone fits a simple definition, so why should their characters?

The second moment that stood out to me was Annie’s goodbye to Jeff, where they share a kiss. The scene is full of emotion in its own way, but it struck me as very different from most will-they-won’t-they scenes on TV because the takeaway seemed to be that it ultimate didn’t matter that much. It seemed to say that it would be nice if they did get together and nice if they didn’t.

In fact, that was the overall takeaway from this episode as a whole. It wasn’t saying that nothing matters in a cynical kind of way. Of course, relationships matter very deeply, but they’re also changing all the time, or they’re staying ambiguous and fluid. Through all the changes, no matter how drastic they may seem, you’ll find your “this should be the show” moment.

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