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Community - Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television - Review: "A fitting goodbye"

Gathering my thoughts around the Community finale (series finale?) is a hard thing to do. Season 6 was oddly uneven, solidly funny, but with no overall story arc grounding the show as it happened in previous seasons. So this finale had the feeling that it could have happened through any time this season, with the exception of the meta jokes.

Season 6 has been solid, but its lack of continuity and story has certainly made it feel less effective than it should be. And yet it was completely emotional: when it hits the right notes, the show hits right in the heart and I’m baffled, filled with emotion and nostalgia. It is both hopeful and depressing, as any good finale should be (series finales, especially, should hurt at least a little in my opinion). In some ways, it’s a masterpiece, and in some others, it isn’t.

I didn’t laugh as much as I have with other episodes this season; while the pitches for each season each character made through their conversation were in sync with who they are, it just lacked a certain spark or it needed just a little bit more of wit in order to fully work.

But the finale does underline something deep this season has, in fact worked: in episode 8, Jeff told Abed that everyone is going to leave Greendale but him, and now Elroy has left and as Annie is getting her internship on the FBI and Abed is leaving for LA, those fears resurge and Joel McHale does an outstanding job portraying Jeff’s conflicted emotions. He tries to look happy for Annie, but the thought of her leaving the group unveils the many faces of Jeff.

There is also an immensely strong moment in which Abed recognizes TV is a comfort zone and that it's ok for life to move on, getting misty as he remembers Troy's departure. Dany Pudi nails it, he does a terrific job at portraying sadness while also conveying strength. Seeing Troy leave is probably what allowed Abed to move on, as he finally has a chance to make it in LA as a TV producer, and it shows how much he has grown from the man who once feared change above all else. It's a key moment to have for the character and the strength of both the actor and script is like they entered the zone. It last just a few minutes, but it's incredibly powerful.

The issue of what the group will do after Greendale has been present ever since season 4 has ended, and it has resolved in different ways since the end of season 4: Jeff became a teacher, Pierce died, Troy sailed off with LeVar Burton and Shirley left to take care of her father. It was a matter of time for all the rest to start wondering what will they do with their lives. Jeff certainly doesn’t want to be on Greendale forever, he doesn’t want to be stuck there until the end of times, but is he going to be? He doesn’t know and we don’t know.

This group of people love each other, that’s why it hurts so much to leave it or to watch someone leave it.
One of the strongest moments of the finale comes when Jeff is picturing life with Annie; they are together, they have a child, and everything looks good, until Annie asks him “is this what you really want? is this what I want?” and at that very moment it is clear how lost Jeff is.

He is 40 and he has no idea where his life is headed, he is in the middle of an existential crisis he hasn’t been able to resolve: Who is Jeff Winger outside of the study group? Outside of the Save Greendale Committee? Outside of the Nipple Dippers? He has no idea, because this group of people have changed him so much that he doesn’t know what he is without them and he can’t imagine his life without them.

That’s harsh, and it’s hard to accept, the closer you become to people the harder is to imagine your life without them, and for a man on his 40s, it is even harder since the road seems to have already cemented and the ways forward seem all the more narrow than someone who is on their 20s or even 30s. But Jeff’s life only got better from knowing these people, without knowing it, it is what equipped him to move forward even when it’s so hard to do so.
Annie and Jeff share an incredibly deep moment; as Jeff tells her he wants to be young again, Annie points out what’s the great things about being grown up and why she’d like to get there, and why it’s ok to accept that he is older and he can start letting the kid things go and start living as the adult he is.

And then Jeff said: ”I let you go”

We finally get some closure with the whole Annie/Jeff thing. Annie tells him that he should kiss her goodbye or he may regret it for the rest of his life (and I’m sure she just used everyone else as an excuse to say it). I know I say closure when it’s pretty much up in the air after that, but with Annie leaving I think that kiss is the perfect way to wrap up their story, with both of them having the chance to express what they felt for each other and move forward from there.

Then everyone else walks in and they share a tearful goodbye to the room and to both Annie and Abed who are leaving.
Jeff: “I love that I got to be with you guys. You saved my life and changed it forever. Thank you”. At that moment I got truly misty and I remembered why I love Community: these are all broken people that came together and built something better.

Annie and Abed got to move forward, and as Jeff left them on the airport he himself grew a little more and he comes back to the remainder of the group to have drinks on Britta’s bar, sharing good times and laughs while Britta says “this is the show”.

I think there isn’t a better way to end the show than reminding us what it has accomplished. It hurts a little to see Annie and Abed go, but at the same time I’m happy for them, and Jeff staying is not a punishment or halt of growth, but actually it is him learning to stand on his own, enjoying what he has around them, beautiful flawed people who are there for him and who may move on someday, but it’s exactly because of that that it’s beautiful, because it may not be there the next morning.

And that’s fine, everyone is going to move on eventually, everyone is going to find their way, at least the finale led me to believe that and there’s a soothing air of calm as the show cuts to black and shows the message “#andamovie”. This story will definitely continue on in the movie, but as an end to the TV era of the show, it is fitting, emotional, a bit depressing at times, but incredibly satisfying. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Episode Grade: A
Season Grade: B

Strays Observations:

-Jeff’s season 7 pitch after learning Annie is leaving includes the study group with him leading Vicky, Garret, Leonard, Todd, a guy whose name I don’t remember but I have seen and Scronge. It was both funny and sad all the same.

-Chang: “I farted during the 4th one, it’s an inside joke.”
I honestly had to stop the video as I fell off my chair from the laughs.

-Frankie: “You know what we should do, as an outsider who came in and nailed it…”
I agree Frankie, you nailed it. She fit in the group in a real organic way. So did Elroy.

-Chang: “I’m gay… I’m legit gay… *sob*”

-I take the commercial parody at the end as Harmon’s way to mock his own parodies. It got way too meta and convoluted, but it was certainly funny and depressing at some point. And the message at the end is a clear odd way from the writers to tell us that they cared about us. It was weirdly made, but it made me smile.

-And that’s it guys: this is probably the last time I review an episode of Community. It got truly emotional. I want to thank you for your support and ongoing interest on the show and my reviews. I have loved discussing it with you even when we had vastly different takes on it, but that’s what made it interesting to discuss. I honestly thank you for that.
I hope I see you on some of the other reviews I make: right now I write for OUAT, The 100 and now I’ll start reviewing Halt and Catch Fire. Coming this fall I’ll be reviewing Supergirl and 3001: The Final Odyssey, so maybe we can meet again there. And if we don’t, I’ll treasure the discussions we had here.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100, Community and Halt and Catch Fire
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