How Community Saved Christmas

It no doubt means more to me than it does to you. It represents a return from an absence of depression. That’s sort of what TV has always done for me. A few Christmases ago, it was the worst Christmas ever. My forty watt bulb burnt out and my debit card was lost in the ample snowy tundra of northern Manitoba. As a result, my Xmas dinner was the last 4 eggs in my fridge. I watched in darkness – a uncompetitive pro basketball game. As it hovered in the minus forties outside, I was left muttering the words of some Dickensian miser. So by the time the next Christmas rolled around I vowed to have a buxom holiday affair. That fall roared out an artistically successful year of Community. Issues arose so I missed the first couple of episodes, but was keen enough to keep them on my clunky VHS tape. Then it struck me: miss every episode live but keep it on tape and then binge on Christmas Day. I had to work that 25th. No problem as “work” included giving away a pick up truck. It’s not really work to make sure that Tricia Mymko of Denare Beach Saskatchewan has a new F-150 and a story to go with it. That was the day the usual brutal December temperatures gave the town respite, as it was 0 degrees Celsius.

When I got back home, whilst tearing into a turkey breast the size of a Canadian football, I pushed play. A solid ten episode gorge. The front side of season 3. It really meant a lot. Community was the show I didn’t have to discuss at the office. “You watch the Office?” “Nope”. “Two and a Half Men? “Nuh uh”. It was mine.  It challenged me, yet still provided calm and pleasure. It lured me back to my own college days. Jeff Winger was the cool guy who had dates and sex. Then taught me that Heineken and cigarettes were better than pot. The Troy and Abed friendship resembled my own with buddy slash lackey slash soul mate Dan Gilmour who would wake me up at the end of the line of the crosstown bus. Then we would float through the days and the weeks, not caring about being dateless and sexless because we got each others references and we sort of got to talk to and be around pretty and charming girls. Fine by us. The waft of feminine appeal in the form of Britta and Annie is (almost) better than porn or women’s wrestling. In viewing I realized that I wanted nothing more than to date Annie while cheating on her with Britta; knowing it would all blow up in my face soon enough and not caring. I have little to no visceral attachment to Pierce, Shirley, Dean, Chang, Leonard, Star Burns etc, etc, but am immensely entertained by them and cheer their victories and cringe at their defeats.  It’s a great slew of episodes from the rundown of scary stories peeped with smooth instrumental jazz of Daybreak to #annies movie concluding with appropriately enough the inspired holiday musical extravaganza.

I do not celebrate the standard Christmas. I recognize December 25th , I spend it alone with TV and food. But for the actual celebration of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ – I go for the Julian calendar – following the Eastern rite which has Christmas land on Jan 7. My family treated the “non ethnic Xmas” as a secular gift exchange. We had a tree but the big meal and church hoopla was saved for two weeks after: a vast starched based food buffet capped off with my father’s terse state of the family address, followed by my impression of said diatribe on the ride to the three-hour high catholic mass.

This year the starch and mass have a rival. The new season of Community. The return to Dan Harmon as show runner. Others in the TV critiquing gams, as well as this very blog chastised Season 4 as the being Community in name only. These criticisms are very valid. As I suckled these episodes this time via DVD – I found that the content of the show itself was not necessary. As long as Jeff texted, Shirley passive aggressively condescended, Annie was adorable, Britta was…the worst, and Troy and Abed did whatever it is they do.

I really enjoy being legitimately moved by art. Having such happen is few and far between. But for whatever reason – be it the Christmas connection, the celebration of friendship via snark – Community seems to move me. With its syndication repeats I can get some 2 hours of it a day. I found out that it’s my music. I can either have it on in the background where it serves as soundtrack my home life, or I can flat-out jam to it, reciting lines and almost orgasmically shouting out catch phrases. As the first couple of episodes of the new season nest  in my on demand package now, the eternal struggle is presented. Do I pounce on these new episodes?  Enjoy them with gusto delighting  in the company of my TV pals…or  has Christmas and new Community episodes become intertwined  It will be a test of my will power to see if I can make to next winter. A year of living anxiously.

Raphael Saray is writer/producer based out of northern and southern Manitoba. He recently found a designer blazer in his deceased grandfather’s closet that fits perfectly..

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