Community Is Important, And Not Just Because It's Great

When NBC announced its midseason lineup yesterday, Community was not on the schedule; it's being set aside to make room for 30 Rock. Spectacularly unfunny snoozefest Whitney will move to Wednesdays, and Chelsea Handler's new comedy, Are you There, Chelsea? — based on her book, Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea — will air after that. (Apparently you can't say vodka on primetime TV). 30 Rock will air at 8 on Thursdays, followed by Parks And Recreation, The Office and Up All Night. Though Community has not been cancelled, some worry it may not return. And the general consensus among fans — on Twitter, at least — is that NBC Britta'd the entire situation. Perhaps network execs are attempting to put-together a fun lady-hour of TV by pairing Whitney and Chelsea together. But in doing so, they have shelved one of the most diverse shows on television.

Community is a weird, quirky, self-referential, meta, often-improvised and pop-culture-reference laden show that writers, bloggers and creative-types seem to love. But the rest of America? Perhaps not so much. Last week, 13 million people watched Modern Family; 15 million watched The Big Bang Theory and 13 million watched Two and a Half Men. Community pulled in just 3.84 million viewers. That's fewer than Whitney, fewer than that new Fox show Allen Gregory.

But in terms of what it brings to the table, Community is a rare beast: Wry, witty, nuanced, hyper-kinetic, thoroughly current. And diverse. There are white guys, sure. But also women, black people, actors of Asian descent and a range of ages. On Community, along with Parks And Recreation, The Office, and, to some extent, 30 Rock, men, women, people of color work and white folks all work alongside each other, without a hint of tokenism or pandering. It's all about sharply drawn characters who bring the funny — a quality that knows no race or gender. In the 1970s, shows like What's Happening!! and Good Times reflected an underrepresented group in society: Working poor black Americans. Community speaks of a different, more current America, one in which it's less about where you come from and more about where you're going. The very premise of the show — that a motley crew of individuals band together as a group in the name of education — touches on an aspect of the American dream. Community's strength lies in its utter unpredictability, wackiness and in-jokes; by being so inclusive, racially and gender-wise, it transcends color and sex and becomes about people. And how weird they are. And how we can be thrown together with folks we have absolutely nothing in common with, yet form (dare I say it?) a community. The Way We Live Now is by creating our own communities — online, in schools, at work. It's a shame that more Americans don't watch the show, and it will be a shame if it gets cancelled. But there's always a chance that the "is it getting cancelled?" buzz will draw in curious people. Because the fans that the show does have are die-hard. As Questlove of The Roots tweeted,

whoa whoa whoa.....what are you talking about #Community getting cancelled???!!! i can't....live w/o...#Community.

‘Community' Benched: Joel McHale, Dan Harmon And Fans React [WaPo/Celebritology]
‘Community' Benched, ‘Prime Suspect' Gone Missing In NBC Midseason Schedule [WaPo/The TV Column]
Why Community Hasn't Been Canceled … Yet [Slate]
Community Benched in NBC Mid-Season Shuffle [Vulture]
NBC Overhauls Prime Time, Benching ‘Community' And ‘Prime Suspect' [NYT]
NBC Benches Community, Britta'd Up Their Whole Schedule[UpRoxx]