8:00am PT by Danielle Turchiano
'Community' Cast Shares 10 Things to Know About Season 6
After five seasons as a bubble show on NBC, Community has seen pretty much everything: a fired (and rehired) showrunner, cast additions and departures, flash mobs, art shows, social media campaigns aimed at sponsors and weekendlong conventions. For its sixth season, Community finds itself with a new, nontraditional home on Yahoo Screen, where the cult classic will be just as weird.
"We feel loved — not that we needed to feel loved, but Yahoo came down and gave us this big spiel [about] being in movie theaters, doing signage, being [all over the place], and we were just silent at the end of the speech," star Joel McHale tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We were all in shock, and Ken [Jeong] just said, 'No one has ever spoken like that to us before.' These are high-class problems, but the attitude is different."
Aside from the vibe at the streaming service, it's been pretty much business as usual for the stylized sitcom centered on community-college students turned alumni who still won't leave.
"I know the episodes are great; the writing continues to be great. That’s why we all like the show — because it’s working, and the writing is so good. I know when this ends, it will be an insanely hard act to follow," says McHale.
"We've finally made it to the future," laughs series star Danny Pudi about being on Yahoo. "Whichever way they decide to measure it and decide its success, that’s the way I'd prefer people to watch. But personally, I’m realistic. I watch [shows] when I can, and I know others do, too. I try to watch it as soon to the day as possible just so I can still talk about it with people and avoid spoilers and stay topical, but we just want you to watch it!"
With that attitude in mind, THR sat down with the cast of Community to learn the most important elements of season six that should make any television fan want to tune in — even if it's for the first time.
1. Abed (Pudi) and Annie (Alison Brie) get a new roommate — Britta (Gillian Jacobs).
During the fifth season of Community, after Troy (Donald Glover) went off on his sailing adventure, Abed and Annie considered whether or not they needed to fill up their apartment with someone else, and Britta's name came up, but they quickly decided Craigslist would be a better option. In season six, though, "desperate times call for desperate measures," says Jacobs. "I don’t think I was their first choice! She’s not a great roommate: She’s broke, she feels entitled, she’s a slob. But she’ll bring heart! That’s what she pays in rent: heart. But if they didn’t need her, she wouldn’t be there."
2. The Greendale Seven get two new members.
Paget Brewster and Keith David have joined the cast of Community as two key players to fill up the study-room table — Brewster as a financial adviser to Greendale and David as a wealthy inventor who also can get the school out of some financial jams. "The Dean has spent money so unwisely for so many years, and that continues this season," reveals series star (and season six co-director) Jim Rash. "The thing about Frankie [Brewster] is she gets to play anyone who’s never watched Community. In other words, she has so many running things about watching our behavior and literally saying, “What the hell was that?” She’ll watch how we argue and make up and then make a comment on, “What happened to this school?”
Meanwhile, Elroy [David] is someone who mostly mixes things up with both Britta and Jeff (McHale). Jeff first brings Elroy into the fold in the second episode, when the Dean becomes "obsessed" with a virtual-reality machine. Elroy invented the machine and is tracked down to bring the Dean out of it. But things pick up from there, with McHale noting that Jeff "really wants Elroy to like him." And Jacobs adds that Britta "is initially intimidated by Elroy, but they find they have a shared love — a shared passion for something — that bonds them."
3. Abed still has trouble adjusting.
Losing BFF Troy was a big deal for Abed in the fifth season, and while Pudi admits that nothing will be as serious as that for Abed in season six, he still isn't quite sure what to make of the new characters or new dynamics between already-existing characters. "He doesn’t know how to respond. I wouldn’t say it’s a negative nonacceptance, but it’s more of 'I’m not sure how you fit into this group' sort of thing. And in many ways, it’s probably what the audience is thinking: 'Who are these new people? How are they going to fit in? What role are they taking?' We address all of that," says Pudi. "And beyond those characters fitting in, it’s sort of like Abed overall in looking at where he’s headed, where everyone is headed, what is the meaning of all of this in terms of where we’re at? It kind of harkens back a little bit to some Dreamatorium episodes ... there is a little bit of a crisis, and how is [he] going to adjust? Does [he] have to adjust? Abed is still grappling with all of this and trying to find his own place."
4. Britta may be growing up — or she may just be more understood.
The second episode of the season will introduce Britta's parents (Martin Mull and Lesley Ann Warren), which will provide insight into the character in a way that makes the audience go, "Oh, she makes sense now!" Per Jacobs: "I think a lot of times we like to think we’re so different from our parents, when in reality, we’re really not. But then, in some ways, we are rebelling and running from what our parents are like." But aside from getting insight into her and where she comes from, her world will be expanded a bit this year with a "return from a former love," a "new place of employment that becomes a new location for the show" and a slightly new approach to the rest of the group. "I think she definitely wants to grow up; I just think she’s a stunted person who has some bad habits and is kind of childish, and I think Greendale is an environment that allows people to remain childish. But there's less talk about Britta being a therapist this year, so there’s less parenting going on and more peer-to-peer bonding. She's also one of few characters who actually has a job!"
5. Jim Rash and Nat Faxon directed two pivotal episodes.
The Academy Award-winning screenwriting duo paired up again behind the scenes to direct the second and fourth episodes of Community season six, both of which "are really great, kind of quintessential character-based episodes," per Rash. The first of the two introduces Britta's parents and the character of Elroy, while the fourth plays with The Karate Kid, with Chang (Jeong) as Mr. Miyagi.
6. Abed as a filmmaker: Answers abound.
The ninth episode of the sixth season will focus on Abed's pursuit of directing, as well as the group's encouragement of this. "You see a big film that Abed makes this year, which is my favorite episode so far of the year because it’s everything. It’s crazy and wonderful and there’s wigs, and it’s everything you ever wanted, but at the root of it, there is definitely a question of Abed as a filmmaker and what does that mean? What is he aiming for? What does he consider art? What does he consider important? You get to see a little bit of what he has been working on [and] how is his craftsmanship? It’s nice to see that is still the aim, and he is still going for it," says Pudi.
7. A new Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and now a new Troy?
While jokes have been made calling Frankie the new Shirley, Jacobs feels the comparison is not accurate. In fact, she thinks "Frankie is sort of like Annie with power and experience." But Jacobs also feels strongly that Britta could be the new Troy — and not just because she is taking his place in the apartment, as aforementioned. "I’ve made it my personal mission that Britta is trying to do the Troy and Abed handshake because I sit next to Danny at the table, but Britta is messing it up. That’s not scripted, and Dan may have cut every single instance of it, but that is my attempt because I have decided personally that Britta is trying to replace Troy in some ways, emotionally, for Abed. I don’t know if it will be perceptible to the human eye, but that was my secret actor intention," shares Jacobs.
8. Dean Pelton's sexuality hits a peak story point.
Rash promises that it goes beyond jokes about wanting to touch Jeff's abs — though those are still there, as well. "There is one particular episode which is Dean-centric for half of it in a storyline about sexuality — about him dealing with it and avoiding the label that he doesn’t think he deserves because he likes to be much more complicated," previews Rash of fourth episode of the season, which he happened to co-direct. "And there is a very fun episode that almost gives an understand of why this is happening. It’s basically a miscommunication between us and some texts that I take differently — I take them the wrong way."
9. Jeff is a more caring leader who may lead paintball again.
Let's face it, Greendale wasn't really "saved" last season and may never be until the show actually ends — okay, probably not even then! Season six keeps Jeff in a leadership position when it comes to the group and decision-making about what tasks the group takes on to attempt to save the school. He gets so physically involved he almost gets crushed in one episode and even straps on a paintball gun again in another, the latter of which McHale deadpanned when asked about Jeff's biggest physical challenge in season six. But the greatest overall challenge for Jeff is a much more emotional one. "For the first time in his life, he cares about these people, and he says, 'I’m never going to leave here, am I?' And think about where he was: He thought he was out of there as soon as he [could be], 'I’m going to cheat my way out of here, and it’s fine.' But now, it’s like, 'I love all of these people, and I want to take care of them,' " says McHale.
10. But Britta's brothers are still a mystery.
"She has two brothers that were mentioned in the pilot and haven’t been seen and aren’t mentioned in this season, either. They’re canon! Where are they? 'Britta's Brothers Remain a Mystery,' maybe that should be your headline!" half-jokes Jacobs.
Clearly she — and Community fans — just may have to wait for the movie, or another season on Yahoo Screen, to get all the answers.
Community premieres on Yahoo Screen on March 17. What do you most want to see occur at Greendale this season? Sound off in the comments below.