NBC issued its midseason schedule today, and one glaring omission on the Thursday night block was “Community,” the imaginative college-set sitcom from Dan Harmon.
That’s not an official cancellation, but it is a bad sign.
“Community” is currently in its third season and, while it’s never killed in the ratings, it’s NBC’s resident rabid-fan-favourite, big-imagination cult hit.
Come to think of it, it’s network television‘s resident rabid-fan-favourite, big-imagination cult hit.
As the LAT’s Scott Collins noted while the release hit reporter inboxes, that’s all well and good — but no help to NBC’s bottom line.
So, from a business perspective, it might seem like it’s time for the Peacock to exit Greendale.
But it’s not.
“Community” isn’t just worth sticking with — it’s worth doubling down on. Now, before you accuse us of fanboy blindness, hear us out on the reasons:
1) Its fans are young. Watch one episode of the show, and you won’t need to see the numbers to understand that.
Still, consider this: last Thursday, “Community” was beaten handily by CBS juggernaut “The Big Bang Theory” and FOX’s “The X Factor.” But it still pulled past “Vampire Diaries,” a show on a network (CW) that lives and dies by the young demo.
2) There’s nothing like it on television. We mean this objectively.
Notice how “The Office” spawned tons of docu-style comedies and “Mad Men” rushed a bunch of 1960s dramas into development? “Community” has been around since 2009, and we’ve yet to see a knockoff — because it’s not so easy to copy high-concept, knife-sharp sitcoms that handle Claymation and live-action paintball with equal skill.
The show isn’t broad — and the ratings reflect that. But if NBC isn’t going to hang with their bizarre-but-brilliant hits, they shouldn’t waste their cash ordering projects from people like Sarah Silverman.
3) Canning it won’t necessarily solve anything. The shuffle NBC will execute for midseason shifts “Whitney,” which currently airs during the Thursday night block, to Wednesday — and pairs it with the new Chelsea Handler sitcom. (Current Wednesday offering “Up All Night” moves to Thursday.)
Suddenly, Wednesday is all about sassy ladies with laugh tracks — and if audiences reject it, NBC will be left with a hole in their schedule. “Community” could and should get a crack at Wednesday, away from the pressures of “Big Bang” and perhaps paired with one of the more modern shows NBC has on the shelf, like “BFF.” Its savvy fans would be able to follow the move.
4) It’s brimming with the next decade’s marquee talent. With the exception of comedy legend Chevy Chase, every cast member of “Community” is on his or her way up. Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, Daniel Pudi — they’re all getting passed feature scripts right now, and Joel McHale is on the verge of world domination.
5) Bob Greenblatt has the chance to be a hero here. When Greenblatt, a veteran of the premium world, joined NBC, the industry practically wet itself over the prospect of more cred-infused network programming.
Well, push has officially come to shove. If NBC thinks long-term and opts not to cancel “Community,” Greenblatt’s art-trumps-all rep will be solidified — and NBC will enjoy a moment of triumphant relevance.
6) And he gets to not be a villain. Nobody wants to be the guy who sent “Freaks and Geeks” or “Arrested Development” to its grave.
In this day and age, “Community” memorials would be passionate, rapidfire and unrelenting — kind of like Abed dissecting a bad action film.
If you didn’t get that reference, this is all your fault.
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