“Six seasons and a movie” may have just turned into “four and a eulogy” thanks to everyone’s favorite fourth placed network, NBC. The “six seasons and a movie” phrase has been an inside joke, rallying cry, and twitter hashtag for the large amount of passionate Community fans who became very concerned that their favorite show was in danger of cancellation after NBC pulled it off the midseason schedule, late last year. Fans quickly came together via sites like Reddit, and organized Twitter assaults, flash mobs, and felt evil goatee mail in campaigns, amongst other tactics to let NBC know how much they wanted to see Community come back for a fourth season. NBC listened, and last Thursday night, while many fans were watching the episode “Curriculum Unavailable” it was announced that Community was picked up for a 13 episode season, due to air in the fall. Short order, but cool, whatever, it’s something.
All is happy in Greendale, right?
Well, not so fast. Let’s take a look at NBC’s Thursday night line-up for the fall: 30 Rock, Up all Night, The Office, Parks and Recreation. It could be on Wednesday, right? That won’t be so bad, hell, it won’t have to go up against Big Bang Theory anymore. Animal Practice, Guys With Kids, WHAT ARE THESE SHOWS?! There’s only one more realistic possibility left… Friday
8:00pm Whitney, 8:30pm Community… oh god, why? Now, whether you like Troy or Abed more, there’s one of two possible reactions to this, you can begin to relentlessly cry out “My emotions!” or look frantically around the room, asking anyone who is near “Guys, I need help reacting to something.” Why am I being so dramatic? Well, ask fans of Firefly about how they felt in regards to the Friday night timeslot, aka the “Friday night death slot” or “the graveyard slot” where shows go to die, good or bad. People generally just don’t watch TV Friday nights, they’ve got things to do, people to see, and all that. Factor in the fact that a large amount of Community’s audience is in the 18-35 range, and you’ve got to figure those are the people with a social life who do things like go out on Friday nights. Then mix in a lead in of the incredibly drab Whitney and you’ve got a ratings starved show, bleeding out on the floor.
It get’s better (not really)
Ask any die-hard Community fan who the most integral part of the show is, and they’ll most likely tell you it is show creator Dan Harmon, whose unique voice, and almost obsessive-compulsive style of storytelling is key to the humor, intelligence, and quality of the show. Guess who NBC hasn’t signed on to be a producer next season? NBC head honcho Bob Greenblatt has pointed out that “shows lose showrunners all the time and do well” and while this is true to a degree, and Harmon may eventually get signed on, regardless, losing Harmon would be a major blow to Community, as it is unlike any other show.
For lack of a better (albeit, clichéd) analogy, Community really is a community of sorts. Its fanbase is like none other in terms of sitcoms. If you log on to Reddit, and look how many subscribers various shows’ subreddits have, you’ll see the ratings juggernaut Big Bang Theory is pushing almost 5,000 subscribers, meanwhile Community will inevitably reach 50,000 subscribers within the week. Take in account that reruns of Big Bang Theory can gather in ten million viewers, meanwhile new episodes of Community hover around three million. After every episode, the internet explodes with people quoting lines from the episode, making animated gifs of their favorite scenes, discussing the meta references and allusions, and posting screen caps of hidden background Easter eggs laid by the set dressers and prop masters (who really deserve more credit).
Even with all the potential doom and gloom hovering over the fourth season of Community, there’s still hope. More episodes could always be ordered if say, a new show fails (which is very possible given the fact this is NBC we’re talking about) or it miraculously does well in the new timeslot. Perhaps, given how TV on the internet continues to grow, in the future Hulu (who owns the rights to online syndication of Community) could even produce new episodes, similar to how Netflix is producing a new season of Arrested Development. Time will only tell what the future may hold for the show.
In the end, you have to laugh, though. True to form, Community has kept it’s meta qualities alive and kicking in the real world. Between all the “darkest time line” jokes this season has held, it really has been a dark year for the show, between the possibility of cancellation, Chevy Chase drama, and now this mess. Who knows, it could be one big conspiracy to be extra meta, and everything will be happy in the end.