I began my last review by posing a question: What is Greendale Community College?
Tonight that question was answered, unanswered and then answered again.
After Abed is found by the police raiding a Greendale dumpster, he is taken to therapy at the behest of the police, who have learned of his abhorrent behavior through an unseen conversation with the Dean.
Much to the chagrin of the therapist, played by John Hodgman in true John Hodgman form, Abed shows up for therapy with the rest of the study group in tow. What follows is a classic flashback episode in the tradition of “Paradigms of Human Memory.”
The viewer is presented with flashbacks centering around the following themes (in order): Abed’s possible insanity, the possible insanity of the rest of the group, bad moments at Greendale, good (Dean-centered) moments at Greendale, false memories of Greendale as an insane asylum and finally, evidence of Chang’s psychosis.
In “Paradigms of Human Memories” flashbacks were used to wade through all the negative emotions felt by the group, leading to the ultimate resolution that their trials bring them closer together.
Tonight flashbacks were used to determine what Greendale has done to these seven souls. Have all the pointless classes, ridiculous campus events, and failing safety standards driven them to a place darker than their already dark origins? Or has it given them the misguided but well-intentioned opportunity to grow together?
I addressed this question in my last article, so to avoid repeating myself, I’ll move on.
An interesting strength of “Curriculum Unavailable” is that it dares to question our knowledge of the characters that many of us have come to love. In response to John Hodgman’s claims that Abed needs to be committed, the study group fires back that you can’t determine someone’s sanity from a few amusing stories.
So begins the only time Community has used its meta humor to question the entirety of its foundation. Is it believable that the whole series has taken place in the unstable minds of mental patients? Well, no, but a part of me almost gave in.
The truth is, we don’t really know these characters as well as we think we do. Every television show takes at its core the assumption that we can get to know people just based on the few eventful hours we get to share with them. We miss the moments in between, and those are often the moments in real life where true character is revealed.
Community has shown some of the best character development on television, better even than many dramas. The fact that it has done that through half-hour comedic anecdotes is all the more impressive. But the fact remains that we still don’t know what these characters are capable of.
The question then becomes why these realities are introduced now. I have a feeling that Community is soon to show its viewers something more ridiculous than we have ever seen.
With Chang’s takeover of Greendale, a situation is being established that will push the Greendale Seven to the extreme. Perhaps Dan Harmon wants us to focus now on what we don’t know about the characters rather than what we do know.
Consider this, why was Britta so afraid to let John Hodgman reveal what happened in her past that brought her to Greendale? I can only assume we will find out next week.
If I could give you, the loyal Community viewer, one piece of advice, it would be this: Be prepared for anything. Seven different fuses have been lit. Something is bound to explode.
Finally, I’d like to end this article on a very happy note by addressing the good news of Thursday: NBC has announced that Community has been renewed for 13 episodes. Rejoice!