TWO whole Reddit questions answered:
I love these Reddit questions, they make me feel like Orson Welles. Unfortunately, they make me answer the questions like Todd Welles, Orson’s younger brother, who was stupid and who tried to cover it with bluster. But here goes, and I’ll answer more when I can, soon.
“Do you have any ideas to make the show last beyond four seasons if it were to continue being renewed? Four years just seems way too low!”
I will bet my life the show can and will go beyond four seasons should it be given the opportunity, but I feel like it would subtract something irreplaceable from a viewer’s experience to expound on that now, with ideas (“they all grow beards and become teachers!”) If you feel anxious about what’s going to happen at the end of year four, then you feel how many of our characters feel, which is a hard-won immersion in TV. Given all we have to work AGAINST in a transitory setting like a school (as opposed to a family or work sitcom), I would never take away from the viewer one of the best things going FOR the setting, which is a distinct “time is moving, the future is uncertain but it’s coming” feeling.
When I get this question, at least from a fan, what I choose to hear is, “please tell me you think and care about this, tell me you don’t think I’m stupid for wanting something so silly to last so long.” You have come to the right show with this need. The writers want the same thing from the show that you want, for the same amount of time. I don’t expect it to cure cancer or feed Africa but I want it to live and breathe a full life.
By the way, I wonder, does anyone ever ask this question of Glee? Don’t they have to graduate, too? Also, THEY KEEP SINGING. Are they going to keep singing for twelve years? Name one show about singing that’s lasted longer than - oh, never mind. Next question.
“Now I understand that a series needs character development to stay fresh, but how do you toe the line between developing a character (say, Jeff becoming a better person) and keeping what we love about the original crew(i.e. Jeff being snarky and a bit of a douche) without obvious inconsistencies in personality?”
I don’t know how other TV writers do this, maybe it’s the same for all of us, but I do this by resolving, if only arbitrarily, that there is one thing at the core of a character that can never change, instead of hanging the character’s life on what is essentially a bunch of superficial nails. If I create a character and say “she’s a vegan from the North Pole that loves porn,” that sounds really “unique” and “real” and stuff, but until I know some simpler, more fundamental things about her, I’ve got three stories before she’s done - the one where she eats meat, the one where she lives at the SOUTH Pole and the one where she gets hit on the head with a coconut and totally hates porn. On the other hand, if, before those three episodes are done, I come to the realization that, at her core, she’s been wounded by something, and deals with it in a certain primal way, now I’ve got 50,000 stories. Because I’ve done 5,000 things in my life to deal with my wounds, and the writers have done 5,000 each. Except Neil. He watched sports.
I feel like I’m talking in vague garbage so I’ll do what I always do to clarify myself: I’ll keep talking. Take this example: What if Annie Edison, instead of being born a human, was born as an elephant. It would change many, many, many things about her. Her taste in sweaters, her ability to walk upright and speak - it might even change her penchant for organization. But my arbitrary decision about Annie is that there’s one thing about her that you’d recognize. You’d say, “that elephant, compared to all the other elephants, is the most like my friend Annie.” Why? Figure that out about your characters, that’s what I say.
Fuck, I have to go to work.
Pretty insightful understanding on how to approach story. I really do hope Community can last beyond four years and still hold is clever, entertaining episodes.