Greendale, good or bad?

Community is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite sitcom in years, like all the greats it’s not without poor episodes (or even seasons), probably lasted too many seasons, and yet you still are left wanting more and more. (And apparently a movie is finally on the way).

Troy and Abed share a hug

For me the course of the show itself exemplifies the theme that it goes to a lot of lengths to explore throughout – the only inevitable thing in life is chang. We all have to grow up some time, and it’ll suck but at the same time avoiding it sucks even harder. Indeed the anticlimax that is Troy’s 21st birthday literally hits you in the face with that. Then the disappointment as beloved characters leave ultimately concluding in a spiral towards the inevitability of death – of the show, of the idea you could stay in Greendale forever and ultimately of yourself. And yet it’s not all depressing. The growth, the trials, the love, friendship, acceptance and community and the adventures along the way are all part of the picture, and this makes the show tread a line between comedy and deep existential crisis. The thing even more consistent than the laughs and love is the deep underlying existential crisis of your own fleeting existence.

Nothing exemplifies this complex mix of emotions better than Greendale is Where I Belong by composer Ludwig Görannson the piece of interstitial music that didn’t even make it to the official soundtrack, and yet is enough to bring any true lover of Community to tears in seconds. Somehow it captures everything that the series makes you feel. Sentimental, sad, happy and it’s like a big musical hug at the same time. I have no idea if it evokes that response in non-fans but judging by the amazing (and unusually lovely) comments on the extended version on YouTube, it’s certainly clear I’m not alone.

I suppose in way, it’s similar to the feeling of putting down a much-loved book – but it’s exacerbated by the fact the book has been trying to tell you all along that at some point you’re going to have to put it down and move on with life, and that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to go back, and if you do it’ll never be the same.

The show is so good at reminding us to accept everyone’s flaws that it teaches us to accept its own too, and it deserves so much credit for getting so many people through the pandemic, and through their lowest ebbs. Somehow it doesn’t try to make you feel better, and it understands how you feel too.

My other favourite thing is the constant and enjoyably self-indulgent cinema references and Abed’s self-awareness that he’s in a show even though he isn’t, in the show (what fourth wall?)… it’s just wall to wall meta jokes and I’m always here for that.

Only one thing is true for certain. Dan Harmon is one messed up dude.