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"'Community' Won": Mourning the Death of TV's Most Improbable Show

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire May 9, 2014 at 6:05PM

A lot of shows have come to an end in the last few days, but critics have been writing "Community's" obituary for years.
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Community

NBC's Grim Reapers have spoken, and "Community" will not be coming back for a sixth season. (No word yet on the movie.) No sooner had the show been dropped than speculation began that someone -- Netflix? Amazon? Hulu? -- might pick it back up, with the Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan making the most solid, fact-based case. But for now, at least Dan Harmon's one-of-a-kind show is as dead as Pierce Hawthorne, with fans both mourning its loss and taking comfort in the fact that 97 episodes of a show that was lucky to get on the air in the first place is little short of a miracle. There's a lot of grief in TV Land right now -- the ends of "Enlisted" and "Trophy Wife" are hitting my colleagues especially hard -- but since critics have had a long time to get their "Community" obits read, they're starting to pop up, and they're fitting tributes to a show with few if any peers.

Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture

Not to go all Abed and soapbox on you, but ... [Pulls up soapbox, stands on it] ... the very existence of this dense, allusive and defiantly not-for-everybody sitcom was a miracle, and the fact that it ran for 97 episodes was another, bigger miracle. "Community" was the most meta-textural half-hour comedy in network TV history. More so than any network series since "The Simpsons," it was television, and almost anything that could appear on television. 

Andy Greenwald, Grantland

"Community" won. Eventually, even the most devoted Human Being will be able to acknowledge this. Consider: "Community" was a show that was practically doomed from the start. It was the cracked passion project of a deeply broken man, a malleable receptacle into which Dan Harmon was able to dump a lifetime’s worth of jokes, therapy, and pop culture damage.

James Poniewozik, Time

It did what more art should do, which is take massive swings and be willing to fail. It had a sense of play and excitement about the possibilities of its medium, be it in elaborate parodies or realistic heart-to-heart character studies. It cultivated a talented ensemble — for all its backstage drama, it even used Chevy Chase well.

Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly

"Community" said so many things -- remarkable, since its characters were so bad at communicating with each other. In the show’s universe, the best way to connect with people was pretending: Epiphanies occurred in the land of make-believe, with the characters "playing" other characters

Aisha Harris, Slate

The Season 5 finale as it aired last month was pitch perfect in its delivery., a great mix of reasonable optimism and wise acceptance of what could be the inevitable: the end. And now that we know for sure that it’s the end, we can be thankful that the series went out with its creator in place, its wonderful original ensemble cast (mostly) intact, and its signature meta humor in full force.


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