This should’ve just been titled “In Case You Missed Community,” since apparently few enough of you are watching NBC’s cult-beloved sitcom that it may be about to get the axe. First of all: FOR SHAME. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. INTERNET RANTING RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.
Now that I’ve encapsulated the general reaction to this news (oh, and “I’ve given up on humanity!” That’s a popular one too), allow me to put forth a few thoughts on this distressing development. First off, it’s not for sure. As the always-on-point AV Club folks point out, the show has been removed from the midseason lineup, not necessarily cancelled, and the show’s entire current season will still be shot and aired. That’s an important distinction; plenty of shows have received the same treatment before, especially from NBC. Hell, last year Parks & Recreation didn’t even start until February. That aside, it’s definitely worrisome, especially when Community has struggled with ratings even in a cushy 7 p.m. (Central) timeslot, averaging under 4 million viewers weekly. As many have said, that’d be enough to get a show cancelled on most other networks, but luckily for us, NBC is in serious trouble right now, to the extent that a show with such a devoted following can cling to life.
That’s not to say Community is safe. In promising that all 22 episodes of the third season will be aired, that could mean that NBC will actually air all of them, or perhaps air them over the summer to burn through contractual obligation. I’d like to think that Community has enough of a following to inspire some outlandish show of goodwill and protest (ala Jericho) to get one more season, but then, not a lot of people have taken the more logical route to saving the show: actually watching it. Additionally, though (again) a lot of NBC’s programming isn’t faring much better, Community for some reason hasn’t reached the critical acclaim that’s keeping Parks alive for the time being, at least in terms of award recognition. Even by modern TV comedy standards, Community is a pretty consistently weird show, one which isn’t exactly the most user-friendly for your average TV viewer.
A note on that average viewer: Internet, for the love of Christ, please stop blaming the “average TV viewer” for this. For as much as we can smugly heap blame on Whitney for the degradation of network TV (not wholly a wrong claim, for the record; it’s fucking awful), it’s pulling the ratings to stay alive. There’s a strange dichotomy at work where fringe-friendly comedies like Community, Parks and Louie have become a rallying cry for certain subsects of the larger TV audience to turn into dickish record store clerks, tutting at the mere mention of your enjoyment of anything airing on CBS. (That’s saying nothing of the fact that certain “mainstream” shows like Cougar Town are being co-opted by this crop of viewers, missing the point of broadcast television by a mile.) Whitney is not the harbinger of the apocalypse, folks. It wouldn’t even be getting this much hate if it’d only aired around 15 years ago, honestly. It’s also not the reason Community will live or die. We are. And we can still do something about it, so that the show gets to end at its logical closure point of four seasons. Get ready to start the mass mailing of referential things to NBC. I say we send Greendale Human Being sock puppets.