The case against cancellation:
It seemed for a moment that we had actually slipped into a world where the fans had the upper hand. Where the voice of the underdog could be heard under all the Nielsen Ratings garbage. That slight “Yop” breaking through the atmosphere of the Whoville Clover that is Network Television. We had a “Six Seasons and a Movie” mantra that we could hold on to, and the vision of which was only barely out of sight. We could taste it.
But this is no longer the case. Community was cancelled.
It was always a risk, season to season, but after a while, it seemed like it would be a no-brainer. With no The Office or 30 Rock to rely on, we had that hope that NBC would keep the “bedrock” of Parks and Rec and Community by its side, through and through. And after that extremely awkward “Everything’s Alright Again!” season finale, it would almost seem idiotic for them to cancel such a critically acclaimed, underdog show without giving them another shot.
But it happened. It really happened. And only three (count ’em, three) episodes shy of hitting 100 episodes. And the sad part is, the show was finally finding itself again.
After an all-too-dark 3rd season, and hitting a creative, laugh-free snag with the “gas leak year” (the Dan Harmon-less Season 4), Season 5 was looking like Community could actually get back on the right track to it’s golden days of Season 2. While Pierce (Chevy Chase) and Troy (Donald Glover) had left the series, I would argue that Buzz Hickey (Jonathan Banks) and Professor Duncan (John Oliver), while obviously not filling the exact holes left by the previous two characters, still provided characters with a lot of heart and a hell of a lot of laughs. And I would argue that until the two-part Subway season finale, the show FINALLY figured out what to do with Chang (Ken Jeong), one of the show’s most problematic characters. He began to, sort of, fill the Troy/idiot niche, and got some hilarious side-plots in some episodes (That ghost side-plot just killed me).
Community was slowly turning into a show with a fantastic teacher-student dynamic; a show not just about the students at Greendale, but Greendale itself. With all the bumps in the road, all the cast members leaving and coming back, Community was finally back on its way to being one of the smartest, funniest shows on television.
But NBC cancelled it.
No MeowMeowBeenz for you.
The case for cancellation:
We should really be lucky that Season 4 wasn’t the final season of Community. We got one last chance to show the world what this show was ACTUALLY about. This wasn’t just a show obsessed with parodying/commenting on pop culture (Thank goodness there was zero mention of Inspector SpaceTime this season). This wasn’t just a show about seeing what movie parody they could attempt next (Again, thank goodness there was no attempt at a paintball episode). This was, through and through, a show about these characters. About this study group, who stuck together, to hell and back. They were some of the most enjoyable, memorable characters to be on TV recently, and I’m going to miss them.
But the real thing we need to think about is this; NBC was never the right place for this show. Network TV in general, honestly.
This was a show that took risks, was as blunt as could be, and dared to go where no sitcom had gone before. We got TWO animated episodes (one in glorious stop-motion), a handful of episodes with characters just sitting around a table, talking. These characters had complicated relationships, complicated lives, and they couldn’t be placed into easily marketable boxes. This was never going to be a show that consistently got millions of viewers weekly. This isn’t an “easy” show. And that’s why we loved it.
We all knew this was coming eventually, so maybe this is just the best time.
But here’s the best news.
Now that Community is off of NBC; they’ve got options. They’re “free,” if you will. This potential future is uncertain, of course, But they have options, nonetheless. Maybe Hulu will pick it up for that final season. Or Comedy Central. Hulu has digital rights, which is why it would be tricky for Netflix to try to swoop in. But this is a hot commodity, and an online market is where this show belongs. Not on a barely-watched major network where the most popular comedy (most-watched, at least) is About a Boy.
NBC had it’s chance. And it threw it away. And the chance for redemption is upon us.
#SixSeasonsAndAMovie is still a chant that can be heard in the distance. They can hear our voices. Someone will respond sooner or later.
Until then, I’m going to watch Season 2 of this glorious show all weekend. Join me, won’t you.