The Legend of ‘Community’: Why the web is fighting for society’s rejects

Close your eyes. Yes, I know this is all in text, but just go with it. Close your eyes and think back to your childhood, where the holiday season was filled with claymation puppets going on adventures and movies where singing and dancing would bring about the perfect Christmas.

Now think about NBC’s Community. Claymation? Check. Singing and Dancing? Check. Abed as Batman? Okay, it’s not Christmasy, but it’s still awesome. Community is a show that started out as one guy trying to pick up a hot girl by inventing a study group, but three years later we have a family that regularly and astutely shapes and lovingly mocks pop culture. A show that allows us to sit in while they fight amongst themselves, pick on each other’s weaknesses, tease mercilessly, get kidnapped by a crazed Colonel Sanders-alike while aboard a space ship simulator, and at the end of the day, grow closer and closer.

Now open your eyes (how you read that all with your eyes closed is beyond me). The cold hard reality is that Community has officially been benched. When every other show returns from it’s winter break, Community’s spring semester has been rescheduled to a date yet to be determined, if it’s determined at all.

For me? A spring without the adventures at Greendale Community College is the most depressing present I have ever received. Worse than socks, worse than a bitey puppy, worse than knock off Power Rangers a year after they were so over. With no known return date, and not much information being supplied by NBC other than, “it’s just benched”, Community fans are understandably anxious about what the next few months will bring for Troy, Abed, Annie, Britta, Jeff, Shirley and Pierce. And this anxiety is being reflected in the beginnings of yet another Fan Campaign to Save Our Show.

Catherine Boyd, violinist and sudden activist tells us about her Save Our Show plan, which involves a flashmob in New York City this afternoon, “I was actually planning on coming up to 30Rock on November 30th, wearing lights and carrying #savecommunity signs. I tweeted and tweeted, and nobody responded. I felt like I was being meangirled, or  was annoying people as a newbie/nerdy/socially awkward/high volume tweeter, or that maybe it was a stupid idea and nobody wanted to do it. Finally, @EvilTroyAndAbed found the flashmob idea on the blog again and asked if anyone wanted to do it. @Sararoseex3 said yes. Once there were two of us, the ball was rolling.” 

On the popularity of her campaign, Ms. Boyd says “We are live tweeting #OChristmasTroy and I’m encouraging people to send videos from all over the world. We have an international fan base, and they are beautiful people.” She ads that “the press pickup from NY Daily News, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, and The Hollywoood Reporter has us in a lather.”

The Save Community Flashmob isn’t just an act of the heart, though Ms. Boyd painstakingly detailed all the open subplots that she hoped would be resolved before saying, “There should be a veto button for cancelling epic shows” (I’m sure Troy and Abed agree). No, this is a cerebral mission, well thought out, detailed, and planned, “I’d like for the fans to interact directly with NBC/Sony, and come up with a creative finance model to help save the show. Most of us watch the show on laptops, and (obviously) few of us are Nielsen households. Nielsen is an outdated system. There are other revenue streams besides ad sales, and I want NBC to start tapping into those streams with us. If ANY of them offer a monetized thing for us, we will do it. I actually want to help NBC!”  

Obviously this is not the first time a popular/beloved yet low rated, show has been tossed onto the chopping block. The most famous success story of a saved from obscurity show is Family Guy, a show that had been cancelled for years before a revival of interest on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and reinvigorated DVD sales led to FOX, for once, realizing that a mistake had been made. (One can only hope the person who sacked Firefly has since been sacked.) Other shows who had fans rally to rescue and succeeded have been: NBC’s Chuck (who actually managed to get Subway invested enough to help pay for the third season) CBS’ Jericho (fans sent in boatloads of peanuts in an attempt to bribe executives into purchasing an additional half season, or perhaps passively threaten any peanut allergic execs), the show was still cancelled later on, though. Fox’s Futurama saw a return to tv thanks to massive DVD sales and a very invested Comedy Central four years later, and WB’s Roswell, who must have inspired the Jericho fans to go the food route, with fans mailing in tons of hot sauce bottles.

What Community has in its favor right now is the swiftness of the fan response and the fact that, for all intents and purposes, the show is in fact officially NOT cancelled, and NBC has been rather consistent in it’s insistence that they are keeping it. This is good news, but what’s even better is the inspired campaigns by Ms. Boyd and others like her, people behind flashmobs, letter writing blitzes, and even a possible blanket fort at NBC headquarters that Ms. Boyd told us about.

It’s because of these acts, the fact that the show is a critical darling, and NBC’s general lack of shows that have either impassioned fans or positive critical buzz that likely insures that NBC will bring Community back eventually. But now is not the time to get cocky and make assumptions. Flash mobs are a fantastic start, but until it has a premiere date, fans will need to continue to make our irritation with NBC known in a peaceful, non-Modern Warfare way. Personally, I’m hoping that NBC sets their phasers to “love me” and Community goes down in infamy as the show that was saved by paper cut-out evil goatees. Or by sending in packages of zombie inducing mystery meat…

Join the cause and sing our anthem.

Aki Murphy

Written by (@blessedprime)

When not hosting her own segment for Pineapple Radio, a Psych fan podcast, or playing bass for a cowboy rock band A Life in Reverse, Aki spends most of her time doing a fantastic impression of a chicken with her head cut off. Her hobbies include catching up with her… More »

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