The future is looking grim for the beloved cult show Community, which was recently cancelled by NBC after finishing its fifth season. After its cancellation in May, Sony vowed to find a new home for the series, in particular citing the online streaming service Hulu as a potential location for the series to transition to.
“We, more than any other studios, fight for shows that we believe in,” Sony Pictures Television co-President Jamie Erlicht told The Hollywood Reporter. “This show had a remarkable history. There are real conversations we need to have with everyone as soon as we get back. We’ve been on the receiving end of some phone calls, but we really need to get together with the Community team and have real conversations and figure out the future. If there’s any show that should have a future or could have a future, it really feels like Community is the one.”
Now Entertainment Weekly is reporting, based on tips from anonymous sources, that talks between Sony and Hulu about the show “have largely stalled.” The publication says that Sony has another buyer in mind for the series and that Hulu still “wants to be part of the conversation.” Sony needs to speed up whatever conversations are happening, as the actors’ contracts are set to expire at the end of this month, at which point stars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Glover, and Alison Brie will be free to pursue other projects.
Community already managed to beat the odds simply by staying on television for as long as it did despite its poor ratings, only drawing a 1.1 among viewers ages 18-49. The series performed generally well with critics, receiving a rating of 69 among reviews aggregated by Metacritic. “Community is mercilessly snarky and also surprisingly charming, which is not easy to pull off,” said The New York Times.
Community, whether or not it gets picked up by one online streaming service or another, will likely be remembered as one of those shows that was too smart and experimental for the average viewer, which made it too costly for the network to justify keeping it around but gained it a dedicated cult audience that will likely only grow with streaming “reruns.” The show has been compared to Arrested Development, another series that performed terribly while it was on air due to jokes that were just too weird for most people to get, but which gained a massive cult following the aftermath of its cancellation, which resulted in it being picked up, years later, for a fourth season by Netflix.
Arrested Development’s fourth season got a mixed response from fans, in part due to its format, which told the characters’ stories in separate episodes rather than featuring the funny ensemble interacting together for the chemistry that made the original so appealing. A streaming service version of Community could benefit from less rigidity than is found on traditional networks, and could be more successful than Arrested Development’s fourth season by making sure all the actors could actually fit it in their schedules to work together.
Whether the series will be given that opportunity remains to be seen. An insider who spoke to TVLine about the negotiations said: “Sony does not give up easily. A lot can happen in one week.”
More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- Will ‘Community’ Return to Air on Hulu? Should It?
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