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If you know anything about broadcast television networks, it won’t likely have escaped you that NBC is not the most popular one out there. Save for the height of football season, NBC rarely, if ever, beats out its competition at ABC, CBS and Fox, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, NBCUniversal’s profits might not quite be where they’d like them, but acceptance that they’re never really going to win the fight for viewers sometimes means that they give shows a chance that would never have survived anywhere else but cable.
Community is one of those shows. Since its pilot, the show has had a slow, but steady decline in viewers and now in its third season, it sits just shy of four million a week on average. If you don’t know, that is not good. I’m not going to go into impressions and universes and what 1.7/5 in the 18-49 demographic means, but simply put, the show isn’t doing very well. In light of this fact, NBC recently made the decision to pull the show from its mid-season schedule, much to the distain of fans, and being one of them, I’m here to give you some reasons that we’re complaining and that NBC should keep the faith.
Pretty much every show on television has another like it. There are countless cop dramas and hospital based love-fests out there, and whilst there are definitely shows set in schools and colleges, not one of them comes close to Community. The show mixes timeless stories about love and friendship that we see every day with high-concept madness like clay-mation mental breaks and alternate timelines based on the roll of a dice. Nothing else on television could go from a chicken finger mafia parody to an all-out paintball war in the space of a couple of episodes and have none of it feel out of place.
Its Cast is Outstanding
Whether or not you like the characters on a show or actors that portray them is largely subjective, but if there was ever a group of people that deserved to be watched, it is these guys. Chevy Chase is a comedy institution and needs little else to be said about him, but the rest of this cast is the definition of up-and-coming. I’ll do everything that I can to sway anyone with this article, so I will shamelessly point out that Joel McHale is an incredibly attractive man and People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive list have noticed too. Add to that the fact that he’s incredibly funny and things only get better.
The women of this show are no Tiny Fey or Amy Poehler, but that’s just because you haven’t heard of them yet. For the men out there, just Google Alison Brie, but once you’re done staring at scans of Maxim, check out some YouTube clips and see that she’s incredibly funny. Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown are just as good if not better, but it’s likely that any major fan of the show is going to tell you to look out for Donald Glover and Danny Pudi.
Troy and Abed are two characters that are impossible not to love. I could write essays on these two, but save me some time and look them up. They’re nerdy beyond belief, they rap, they krump, and they make blanket forts that put the best of us to shame. Between the two of them are probably some of the best lines spoken in recent comedy television history and that’s not an understatement. Jim Rash and Ken Jeong form the main supporting cast and the two of them are easily funny enough to have their own show. Each.
Its Production Team is Phenomenal
Dan Harmon is a genius. The Russo Brothers are geniuses. Pretty much everyone that has worked on this show knows what the hell they’re doing. The writing is of a level that hasn’t been seen since Arrested Development and if you didn’t know, that show has built such a cult fan-base since its cancellation that it’s getting another season and a movie. Its at-the-time under appreciated cast coincidently has also become phenomenally famous. Ever heard of Will Arnett, Michael Cera or Jason Bateman? Is this just history repeating itself? The show is good enough to give repeat director credits to Justin Lin (the man at the helm of the last three Fast and Furious films who could be doing just about anything else with his time) amongst others and there’s a reason for it.
Ignoring the quality of this show, syndication is a big deal for production companies. The basic idea is that rights to air the show, or certain episodes of the show are sold off to other networks, to other countries and so forth. Although you could theoretically syndicate a show with any number of episodes, the more there are, the more money there is in it. The golden number is generally one hundred episodes for large scale syndication and if Community was given a fourth season it would be coming up very close to that mark. While it might not be bringing in the biggest ratings right now, if there are more episodes to syndicate, in the long-run there is money to be made. Sadly, this money goes to Sony, not NBC, so even if they wanted to continue production on the show, NBC might not want to air it.
It’s on NBC!
I pointed out before that NBC isn't doing that well and so, despite its low ratings, relative to everything else on the network, Community isn’t doing that poorly. More to the point, if the show were cancelled, there would be absolutely no reason to believe that it can be replaced with something that is going to do any better. The show airs against massive competition from a little-know show called The Big Bang Theory amongst others, so its ratings are more a symptom of when it airs than what it brings to the screen. Replacing a show with a devout built-in fan-base with a new one is a terrible idea. Moving around the schedule might work, but they’d likely just be pulling viewers from the show they replaced it with. Four million might not be much, but it could always be worse.
Most Important of All...It’s Hilarious!
Comedy is hard. Being consistently funny is hard. Community does it and then some. Unlike its viewer laden time-slot competition, the show never fails to deliver on so many levels. There is overt humor mixed with some of the most subtle jokes you’ll see anywhere. There’s meta humor, there’s slapstick humor and it all falls into a show that has genuine drama as well. It is unparalleled by anything on television right now and everybody should be watching it.
As a closing thought, I’m going to slap NBC in the face with a quote from one of its own shows that, while nothing like Community in style, deserved its cancellation just as little. “I believe that the people who watch television shows aren’t dumber than the people who make television shows. I believe that quality is not anathema to profit.” - Jordan McDeere, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I know that it’s a business and they want to make as much money as is humanly possible, but NBC needs to realize that if they keep good shows on the air, people will pay attention. With the transparency afforded to the world by the internet, people today get to find out exactly why shows are cancelled and in my experience, people hold grudges.
If NBC becomes known for putting quality above all else, it’s going to get a reputation for doing exactly that and people are going to watch its shows. Most of these comedies have young fan bases that have worth to advertisers and those are exactly the type of people that respond to these things. NBC isn’t going to blow away its competition no matter what it does, so why not at least do something worthwhile while propping up the low end of the ratings spectrum.