Fulfilling a hashtag is not a legitimate reason to do anything.
— Andy Greenwald (@andygreenwald) May 8, 2014
I adore “Community.” After missing the first season, I leaped on the bandwagon midway through its second (and my favorite, start to finish) season in a matter of 10 days while stuck at home attending community college. The synergy was way too much. No other show appeased my pop culture sensibilities and possessed the boldness like Dan Harmon’s quirky creation. Its quirks gave the show its charm and also alienation from the general viewing public, resting on a low ratings bubble waiting to pop pop on a magnitude Magnitude could never muster. Eventually, after five seasons, a new showrunning duo, a new new showrunner, same as the old showrunner and casting changes, NBC could no longer legitimate carrying another critical beloved show with a fervent fanbase more than it had. Fortunately, the story seemed to end in a, more or less, satisfying manner, tying off loose ends to prevent reddit riots since today’s TV shows require perfect endings.
So seeing today’s news that Yahoo! would resurrect the show for a sixth season, one step close to realizing the show and its fans’ rallying cry of “#SixSeasonsAndAMovie.” Such news was well received in most Internet corners, including among the aforementioned redditors. This communal television property will exist for another 13 episodes, seemingly more for viewers’ benefit more than Yahoo!’s (even if this gives the company a good deal of buzz concerning its forthcoming original series). I thought such news would bring dissonance between seeing characters and writers I love disappearing and wanting to have the pristine image of the show forever preserved. Now, I’m solely in the latter camp.
For one, it’s a miracle the show even lasted five seasons with its most recent season finale failing to reach 3 million viewers, a failure even by NBC’s standards. Fans of the medium, especially for perennially endangered shows with the prime example being “Chuck,” have to know the business and the players involved, such as NBC’s head honcho Bob Greenblatt. They wanted him to be the savior once again, but simply, “Community” stopped being good for business. Which are the breaks of the game. It happens. The slightly better numbers the show mustered in its prior four seasons wouldn’t legitimate its place on the network even when going against the monster that is “The Big Bang Theory.” Ultimately, I was happy to see the show hang around with some sort of money behind it.
But that’s not why I thought it should have been taking behind the shed where the gates open to an open field of TV show heaven, where “Firefly” is the popular kid and “Terriers” can finally run free, stupid name aside. The show, creatively, concluded. Not from a quality standpoint; it failed to hit Season 2 and 3 heights, but expecting a comedy later in its run to do so is the exception, not the rule. But with atrophied cast members — Donald Glover off to do his own thing, Chevy Chase quitting another gig, John Oliver telling it like it is on HBO — and fewer storylines, after the Season 5 finale, there wasn’t anything the show could give that I wanted. Not to diminish Season 5, but it was a well-taken mulligan after the miscalculated shot into the rough that Season 4 was with David Guarascio and Moses Port helming the vessel, more frequently feeling like a “Community” fan fiction than the actual show. Harmon salvaged his ship and steered it ashore. Incorporating the gem that is Jonathan Banks to fill Chase’s role as old guy with a test (less imbecilic, more crotchety) was key to the creative resurgence. But he can’t return for Season 6, so they’ll either need to operate with their six-person crew, promote Ken Jeong or Jim Rash, find someone else to provide the geriatric comedic beats or forego them entirely.
Most of all, I’m afraid this iteration of “Community” will be a shell of its former, once stellar self. As mentioned earlier, shows need to end well or risk having their whole legacy tarnished. “LOST” fans will never forgive Damon Lindelolf and Carlton Cuse (count me as one of them). Calling the end of “Dexter” a dumpster fire isn’t fair to a vessel that carries our shit. “Seinfeld’s” glorified clip show drew a ton of viewers but isn’t held in the highest of regards. “Community” will forever remain a favorite; the only question is to what degree. In this case, to answer Neil Young’s question, it’s better to burn out than fade away. “Freaks and Geeks,” “Firefly,” “Friday Night Lights” are beloved because they didn’t overstay their welcome. Though people pine for more, living fast and loose while presenting something new to TV is a legacy in and of itself. Harmon is the only man for the job to end “Community” in a palatable way, but the longer it takes, the difficulty increases and the chance of disappointment rises with it. Tune in this fall; I will be — nervously.