My last post about Community ended with a hopeful “Welcome back Dan Harmon. Welcome back Community“. Although the show had been almost-cancelled several times over the years, there were several reasons why fans could be optimistic about its future, for a change.
The show had returned for an unlikely fifth season, which had included some of the series’ best episodes, and the show’s creator had been re-hired, in a move which was unprecedented in the history of television. Ratings were decent, reviews were positive, and NBC had even adopted the fandom’s #sixseasonsandamovie hashtag for the show’s official marketing campaign, which suggested that a sixth season and a movie was actually possible.
Then it was cancelled.
It was a bit of a shock. NBC had got our hopes up and then cruelly dashed them. But there was a glimmer of hope. Sony Pictures Entertainment, which owns the show (NBC just aired it and paid some of the production costs), was reportedly desperate to find the show a new home elsewhere. It was a race against time – the cast’s contracts for the show expired in a few weeks, and there weren’t many options.
Netflix was pestered with requests by fans, but they decided not to have it. Hulu, which owned the online streaming rights to Community in America, seemed like an obvious place for the show to continue. However, with a week to go before the cast’s contrasts expired, Hulu made a statement saying that they would not be picking up Community for a sixth season.
At this point, everyone had given up hoping for more Community and were slowly accepting that this quirky, clever little comedy was finished.
It was great that it had managed to get this far. No-one had really expected it to last this long anyway. The whole ‘six seasons and a movie’ thing was just a silly joke from the show that fans had turned into a message of support for the show itself, and used as a rallying cry for when the show was in trouble, which had been quite often.
The phrase became particularly prominent when fans flooded social media with the hashtag #sixseasonsandamovie after Community was abruptly pulled from NBC’s television schedule halfway through its third season. Being taken off air usually means ‘cancelled’, but the show’s most dedicated (ie: slightly obsessive) fans protested wherever they could. The hashtag trended worldwide every Thursday (when the show should have been on the air), flashmobs were organised outside NBC’s headquarters in New York City and, after a couple of months, the show returned to the airwaves.
Unbelievably, it lasted for two more seasons after this. It had ended on a high note. The last episode didn’t quite work as a series finale, but it was much better than season 4’s god-awful final episode. Let’s just be grateful it got this far.
The expiration deadline came and there was still no news. Not that anyone was really expecting any. It was done. It was over. Community had overcome some crazy obstacles in the past that other shows would have never managed to get past, but it would take something truly insane and out of left field to save it now.
Then Sony Pictures made an announcement. The show would be returning for a sixth season. Hulu had, in fact, made a generous offer to them, but Sony had declined and gone for another source which had made an even more generous offer that Sony just couldn’t say no to.
But who was this source? If not Netflix, or Hulu, then who? Amazon Instant? Crackle? Sony’s new Playstation TV service? Crunchyroll (hey, you never know)?
Community was returning for a 13-episode sixth season, with no reduction in budget, and with every main cast member from season five returning (except Jonathan Banks), on Yahoo.
Yes, Yahoo. Yahoo Screen to be precise, Yahoo’s free online streaming service.
Yes, apparently Yahoo has an online streaming service. Who knew?
To say that people were a bit surprised by this would be an understatement. Sony later confirmed that a movie was almost certain, and that Yahoo was interested in doing even more seasons in the future. This was an extremely clever move by Yahoo, as now millions of people know about their Screen service and are grateful to them for resurrecting a show that they care about and giving that show a chance to end properly.
So ‘Six seasons and a movie’ is somehow becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The joke it originally came from in the show was about the fans of a low-rated show that was obviously going to get cancelled defiantly insisting that it would continue for a long, long time. Then reality imitated art, as Community‘s fans defiantly insisted that it would continue for several years despite all signs pointing to certain cancellation.
But then it did continue. It got pulled off the air, and then put back on. It’s creator was fired, then rehired after a lacklustre fourth season. Two cast members left the show, but the episodes dealing with their loss were two of the best that the show ever did, and the show has managed to carry on without them without losing any of its wit, cleverness, or charm.
Now, after it finally was cancelled, it has returned from the dead, in a place no-one even knew existed. And there’s a distinct possibility of it carrying on longer than anyone ever imagined or even jokingly expected.
This fucking show.
The behind-the-scenes story of Community is just as nuts as the show itself. There have been several ups and downs, last-minute saves, and incredibly-unlikely twists and shocks.
But now, things seem safe. If it continues to be as good as it was in the fifth season, this sixth season could end the show on a high note. Community has toyed with introducing significant changes into its characters lives and doing an episode that could act as a series finale, but it’s often decided not to do that in case it got renewed for another season. If this is treated as the final season, before the movie wraps everything up, then it could be a great ending.
Yeah, Yahoo’s interested in doing more than six, but it’s not ‘Seven seasons and a movie’ or ‘Twelve seasons and a movie’, it’s six. This is probably it. Really this time. Let’s not get greedy now.