Community is a great show because Dan Harmon doesn’t give a fuck. He’s turned the half-hour sitcom format into a half-hour sitcom laboratory. He has dared people to watch, and those who have (like myself) have been rewarded. He has also dared NBC to cancel the show, which they appear to have effectively done.
This is not a tragedy. This will dominate certain corners of the Internet for a few days and maybe longer, if Arrested Development is any indication. But given the sheer difficulty of getting and keeping a show like Community or Arrested Development on the air, today’s a day we should celebrate what we have instead of mourning what we’ve lost.
Arrested Development was a great TV show. I watch the entire series about once a year. I’m not the only one, and it’s the ability to consume the show in its totality that leaves fans wanting more, and feeling personally aggrieved that they don’t have more. They think TV executives don’t know shit. Well, the TV executives put the show on the air in the first place. They know something.
Same deal with Community. Even in its first season, a friend and I thought it didn’t stand a chance of a long run, especially if it got weirder and better, which is exactly what happened. The supersaturated talent in the cast alone assured its destruction, the same way Arrested Development sank by giving everyone something to do, all the time. These were complex, intricately layered shows that needed to be followed in their entirely to be understood on a minute-by-minute basis, which differentiates them from something like Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock or The Office, which have also suffered their own ratings problems at various times but could be understood in a self-contained context. You could watch it and get it. Not so with Arrested Development and Community. You were all in or all out.
They’re allegedly making new Arrested Development mini-episodes and a movie, as I’m sure you know. I’ll watch them, but I’m not jumping out of my chair. Remember Michael Jordan on the Wizards? Greatness fades. Sign online petitions for Community if you must, tell your friends if you feel so compelled, but don’t think you’ve really been screwed. You’ve been given a gift. Watch some old episodes and enjoy them, and before you know it, another great show will break through the absurd system with rules that ensure its very demise. It’s America. We always make more TV. Take solace in it.