An Observation, Not Defence, of Community

If you consider yourself someone who is quite partial to NBC’s Community, then the following is probably not news to you. Earlier this week the network released their midseason schedule, revealing that the sitcom had been pulled.

For all of the Community-enthusiasts that hadn’t heard, this does not mean that the show is cancelled. thefutoncritic, on Twitter, reported that all 22 episodes of the 3rd season will still be shot and aired. What it does mean, however, is that the returning 30 Rock will own the 8:00 Thursday timeslot at the beginning of next year, with no indication of when Community will be shown.

The question I pose to you, then, is why? Community is one of the hottest new sitcoms out there, with a following that I can only describe as borderline fanatical, so why is it being taken off the air?

I mean, just look at these good lookin’ kids!

There are a variety of reasons, each of which raise its own sets of questions.

The most important, from what I could tell, was ratings. Community‘s first season was ranked #97 in the ’09-’10 Broadcast Primetime Show Average Viewership with 5 million viewers. It dropped 18 places its second season, down to #115, losing half a million views in the process. Suffice to say, the show is not doing well.

The A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff shines some light on the issue by explaining that:

“Community, unlike, say, Parks And Recreation, is in a format that seems to be deliberately polarizing. If you can’t get on its particular wavelength, it’s going to seem a little cold and clinical to you, and the fact that its fanbase can be a little … relentless certainly doesn’t help matters.”

Basically, it’s a show that not everyone can get into. I’ve certainly talked to a fair amount of people who have tried to get into it and reported back that they just couldn’t. This is a phenomenon I can only explain by comparing the show to the study group itself. Being a part of it is fantastic, something that every member can attest to. Trying to become a part of it, however, is a truly daunting challenge [one that character Ben Chang has not yet completed].

Another comparison [apparently the last one wasn't the only one] can be made between Community and the film Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Both are loved and have large fanbases, yet one is floundering in rating and the other made only a little over half its budget. These are both works that clearly have a set audience, so maybe therein lies the problem.

Their audiences are too small. Yes, there are thousands of TV watchers who adore [worship] Dan Harmon and his show. A quick perusal of any episode’s review on The A.V. Club’s TV Club is evidence of this. These are fans who are so ardently loyal that they harangue the comments section of The Big Bang Theory (though to be fair, TBBT is not a good show). There are people who are all about this show but maybe there are not enough of them.

Perhaps in this case what Community really needs is a shift from quality to quantity in regards to its fans. If the show drops any lower in ratings you can be sure we won’t be watching the study group graduate from Greendale.

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6 responses to “An Observation, Not Defence, of Community

  1. This also brings to mind Firefly and its fanbase’s attempts to save the show. And I think we all know how well that went.

  2. To be fair, the fanbase of Firefly actually rounded up the funding and support that led to closure via Serenity, and to this day there’s still talk of firing up the engines again.
    I think your analysis is right, though. Not a wide enough audience.

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