TV

Embrace Chang(e): Use “The Community Code” To Understand Your Favorite Show

Did “Community” creator/showrunner Dan Harmon secretly telegraph the latest developments concerning the fate of the series episodes ago?

Just as Chang hijacked Greendale and replaced Dean Pelton with lookalike “Not Dean Pelton,” it is possible that NBC might replace Harmon on the show next season. During a Upfronts conference call yesterday, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told reporters: “I expect Dan’s voice to be a part of this show somehow. I’m just not sure if that means him running it day-to-day or consulting on it.”

I can’t even imagine how a “Community” without Harmon in the driver’s seat would look and feel like. Thankfully, now that the show has been moved to the ever-popular “Friday Night Of Doom” — with “Whitney,” of all shows, as its lead-in — we may never have to suffer through a botched season, albeit truncated, for that long.

This is starting to feel beyond “Britta-ed” to me, and is travelling swiftly into “Chang” territory. But hasn’t the increasingly darker and darker tone of the episodes this season sort of prepared us for this eventuality? I mean, the last two episodes were called “Course Listing Unavailable” and “Curriculum Unavailable.” The last episode of the season, airing this week, is called “Introduction to Finality.” With the gang expelled from Greendale, Chang and his gang of adorable child-fascists (put in your speculation as to what current shows they prefer to “Community” right here) having taken over the school, and a fake Dean in place, this is seeming more and more like the darkest timeline, “for reals.” I love an underdog story more than anyone, and I’m still rooting for “The Greendale Seven” — but I’m also having serious doubts about “six seasons and a movie” at this point.

If we were to do a “Community Code” type interpretation on all this, we get the following:

Dean Pelton = Dan Harmon

This connection is made explicitly in the “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux” episode, which seemed to be Harmon’s “mea culpa” for his more eccentric moments on the set. When Dean is kidnapped and replaced by a double, it represents Harmon replaced as showrunner. As he is replaced, we are meant to not notice it, as if real Dean and fake Dean are interchangeable; this represents the network believing that creative talent are interchangeable. More interestingly, this replacement was foreshadowed in the “Documentary Filmmaking” episode, with Dean hiring Jeff to play him in the Greendale ad.

Abed = Dan Harmon’s genius

Abed is also a filmmaker, but unlike Dean he’s very childlike and innocent. He is Harmon’s soul, untouched by the politics and bureaucracy he has to wade through in his role as showrunner.

Jeff = The jaded TV viewer who is also a “Community” fan

Witnessing a long history of smart TV shows that have died too soon — the original Star Trek, Arrested Development, Firefly — the tendency is to believe that nothing will ever change, and shallow programming will always win the day. He fights a constant battle against his own hard-won cynicism. Jeff might also be a TV blogger.

Air Conditioner Repair School = The Network Executives

John Goodman & co. represent the programming bigwigs who have increasingly leaned on Harmon to change/get rid of the show. They would rather replace Greendale’s liberal arts curriculum with a vocational school; put on TV programming that is less smart and more geared to what they feel a mass audience wants.

Chang = The chaos brought about by inexplicable network decisions

He represents the irrationality of bad network decisions, which will ultimately bring Chang(e) to the show. Whereas the Air Conditioner people will make decisions based on balance sheets, Chang’s actions (such as perhaps having “Whitney” be the new “Community” lead-in) are completely WTF.

Chang’s Child Police Force = The audience demographic the network really wants to target

To heck with a hipster/geek darling like “Community” — the real money is in shows like “Glee!” And yet shows like “Community” make people think and question authority; something not encouraged in “Chang Youth.” Note that Chang keeps them in line by giving them unlimited candy.

 Pierce = Chevy Chase

It has been pretty transparent since the beginning of the series, and you really can’t blame the man for being a little sensitive about it.

What does “The Community Code” reveal about the future of your favorite program? Are we indeed in the darkest timeline? This week’s three-part season finale might reveal all!

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