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After years of campaigning, tweeting, and generally taking over the Internet with their rally cries, Community fans might finally be getting that highly-anticipated, long-prophesied sixth season. According to Deadline, Hulu has begun talks with Sony, who produces the cult hit, about acquiring more original episodes of the show after it was canceled by NBC earlier this month. The talks are still in their very early stages, and a deal is nowhere close to guaranteed, but that hasn’t prevented Community fans from whipping themselves into a frenzy over the possibility. Creator Dan Harmon has also promised to return if the show does, stating, “I’m not going to be the guy that re-cancels cancelled Community.”
The dedication of Community‘s fans has helped keep the show on the air for most of its run, so it’s no surprise that they’re determined to spend one more year at Greendale, no matter where the show moves. But while there are still plenty of reasons to give the show another shot, and lots of questions left to wrap up — Will Jeff end up with Britta or Annie? Are Rachel and Abed still together? Did Troy and Levar Burton manage to escape from those pirates? — resurrecting Community might not be for the best in the long run. Perhaps it’s finally time for fans and characters alike to graduate and move forward with their lives.
The fifth season had a lot of obstacles to overcome, from the firing, departure and re-hiring of Harmon to several key cast members leaving to finding a way to keep the premise intact after the characters graduated at the end of Season 4. Both the fans and writers viewed it as a re-building season, designed to get Community back to feeling like its old self again. And while there were many aspects of that reset that were successful, the show never quite managed to flow the way it used to, and there were plenty of problems that seemed to suggest that it might be time for Community to begin wrapping up its stories.
The departure of Donald Glover and Chevy Chase has had a major impact on the study group’s dynamic, as well as on the show as a whole. Without Pierce to be the unpredictable, over-the-top antagonist, the show had to invent more and more ridiculous ways to pit the characters against each other and the people around them to generate conflict. Without Troy, there was nobody left to balance Abed, and the frequency and absurdity of the jokes in every episode rapidly declined. While the addition of John Oliver‘s Professor Duncan and Jonathan Banks‘ Professor Hickey went a long way towards filling the holes left by their absences, both actors have starring roles on high-profile shows that will no doubt conflict with their ability to appear on Community next season, and their loss will only make the dramatic shift in dynamic and tone more obvious and more difficult to overcome.
Pierce and Troy’s absence wasn’t the only major problem the fifth season had. Many of the plots seemed to be repeating themselves — Greendale’s in danger, it’s saved by the study group, it’s in danger again; Chang is evil, now he’s reformed, no wait, now he’s evil again; Jeff likes Britta, then he likes Annie, then he likes a random guest star, now he’s back to Annie, now he’s going to stay single — and the gimmicks that were once creative and interesting now seemed uninspired. Community mostly seemed to be spinning its wheels in its fifth season, and the writers seemed hesitant to commit to taking the plots in different, unexpected directions the way they used to. Even Harmon’s return wasn’t enough to get Community back to its old self. Though his work on the fifth season managed to right a lot of the wrongs of the season four “gas leak,” it still didn’t feel like the show had regained whatever spark it has lost over time. If anything, the latest season of Community seemed to suggest that the show has finally run out of steam.
Every show eventually hits a point when it becomes time to wrap things up, and it’s impossible to sustain the concept or storylines or the writers just run out of new, wacky situations for the characters to wind up in. Community is a more high-concept, inventive show than most other sitcoms, and eventually, that began to weigh things down. There’s a chance that a sixth season could give Community the kick it needs to wake up, but it seems more likely that it will just make the show’s fatigue more obvious. The last two seasons have struggled to recapture the show’s essence and what made it so special, but if Harmon couldn’t bring it back, a sixth season probably won’t manage the trick either. Is it really worth getting a sixth season of Community if it’s no longer truly Community?
Over the course of the show’s run, we’ve watched our favorite characters grow, change and mature. They’ve had epic paintball battles, survived campus-wide apocalypses, and supported Cougar Town through a cancelation scare, move to mid-season and the transition to a new network. But the end goal has always been graduation, accomplishing their goals and moving on to the real world. Eventually things have to come to an end, and maybe it’s time for Community to do just that. Five seasons is an impressive run, especially for a show as weird and self-referential as this one. So maybe instead of hitting an arbitrary goal that we’ve assigned an incredible amount of importance to we should celebrate the time we spent with the study group, and move on along with them.
Whether Hulu decides to pick up the show or not, at least Community got the run that The Cape never did. If that’s not justice, we don’t know what is.