After NBC cancelled it last year, and after a last-minute resuscitation hours before actor contracts were set to expire, and after it lost yet another cast member in Yvette Nicole Brown, Community finally debuted on Yahoo! last month. This show that so many of us on the internet had a shared history with, whose characters often felt like friends to us, and whose showrunner felt like our beloved uncle who drank too much at Thanksgiving and made us laugh and then yelled at us when we didn’t get at that one joke, had finally arrived. We — the internet — had gotten what we had so desperately wanted for so very long, a sixth season of Community.
… and then we kind of forgot about it.
That’s not to say that we’re not watching it. I know that I am, and I know that many others are, as well. While it took some time to adjust to the new characters, the longer episodes, and the new rhythm of Community, there’s no doubt that it has found its stride at this point. This week’s seventh episode of the season, “Advanced Safety Features,” was peak Harmon. The entire episode was essentially an extended commercial for Honda automobiles, and despite the overt product placement (because of it, in fact), it may have been the funniest episode of the year. The Subway corpohumaniod Rick (Travis Schuldt, also known as Natalie Zea’s boyfriend) returned, only he had switched allegiances and become a corporate influencer for Honda. Billy Zane made a couple of appearances, and he was sublimely good; the Dean continued to deftly fill all the holes left by Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover; and Paget Brewster continued to prove herself to be an incredible addition to the cast.
This scene, in particular, was comedy gold:
Three or four years ago, “Advanced Safety Features” would’ve been the kind of episode that the collective internet would’ve lost its sh*t over. There would have been GIF parties. Twitter would’ve been flooded with brilliant quotes from the episode. We would’ve spent too much time unpacking Abed’s meta-commentary (there was another scene in last night’s episode where Dan Harmon self-reflexively addressed criticism of Abed’s character since Troy left), and internet commenters would’ve spent days cataloguing all the pop-culture references.
It hasn’t exactly been crickets after each episode debuts on the internet (some sites are still writing weekly recaps of Community), but it’s not the same anymore. The strong sense of community surrounding Community is gone.