Following days of speculation, Dan Harmon has broken his silence on the possibility of a sixth season for “Community,” and his answer is: “Eh.”
More specifically, he writes on his Tumblr, “When Sony called me on Friday with the news, there was brief discussion at the end of the call about the concept of the show living elsewhere, and I was definitely in the ‘eh’ column.” (See the moving obituaries for its final-for-now season here.)
Partly, Harmon admits, his diffidence is a defense mechanism. “I’m scared to tell you how little a difference I think my enthusiasm will make,” he admits. “There are lots of reasons a ‘Community’ resurrection could be difficult. So be prepared for that.” But it’s also a reaction against a culture where fans now feel they can pull just about any unprofitable cultural product across the verge — and where the entertainment megaliths that produce those products count, to an extent, on that reaction.
I honestly think you can totally sit back and relax for this chapter. I know you don’t feel relaxed but I mean you don’t have to worry that someone on this planet isn’t aware of this show’s value to its audience. There are actually astronauts on a space station right now saying “We get it, you love Community” in Chinese. You have done your thing.
If you want to know the God’s honest truth, part of my “eh” was coming from the unsettling thought of your passion for campaigns being once again exploited by this rather unfair, somewhat backward system, one that now treats you like it’s your responsibility to keep a show alive, like a corporation is doing you a favor by feeding you low grade opiate through a regulated tube. Like you owe them an apology when they can’t measure or monetize you to their satisfaction. You deserve better. I love you guys, and at its best, “Community” is me saying that over and over again, saying let’s get less mad at ourselves and each other and more mad at the inhuman systems that keep us down and divided. “Maybe it should have said less of that and more jokes.” Shut up, voice of my grade school principal that also coached and umpired softball because shrieking “steeeeeeerike” at children was his sole recourse to virility.
Variety reported yesterday that Netflix, which previously resurrected “Arrested Development” and “The Killing” was definitely not interested in taking “Community” one step closer to six seasons and a movie, the key difference (or one of them) being that the former shows were available, and presumably performed well, on the streaming service, while “Community’s” previous seasons were kept on Hulu, in which NBC holds a minority stake.
That doesn’t mean “Community” is dead for good, but is does strike a blow against the idea that a small but intensely loyal audience can always revive a show that failed for five years to connect with a wider audience. Say what you will about how NBC handled the show: They gave it longer than just about any series with comparable ratings. But now that the network is in first place rather than last, cult status wasn’t enough to keep it on the air.