The darkest timeline may be coming to an end. Sony Pictures Television co-president Jamie Erlicht told The Hollywood Reporter that Community, canceled three weeks ago by NBC (surprisingly in first place among networks for the first time in what feels like centuries), may be coming back on Hulu.
“We, more than any other studios, fight for shows that we believe in,” he told THR. “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.”
Community, known for its acerbic wit and postmodern tendencies, only pulled in a 1.1 rating among the integral 18-49 demographic, though factoring in streaming the ratings grew to 1.5, still not very good but considerably better than what the struggling show is used to.
Arrested Development, which had Community-level low ratings in the mid-aughts on Fox, was canceled after three seasons and a retrospective ire bloomed among the many fans who only heard of the show after it was canceled. (In all fairness, Fox did keep the show longer than most networks would have, given its abysmal ratings.)
When Arrested Development returned last year on Netflix, with an additional 15 minutes of runtime per episode and a circuitous, sinuous narrative plicated and overlapping with the various characters’ stories (most of which rarely interacted, whereas the original series was all about familial clashing), fans were ecstatic. When they finally got through the season, they were disappointed. Netflix’s Arrested Development was a vastly different creature from Fox’s Arrested Development, and though it has its own style of luminescent brilliance, viewers were let down.
If Community comes back and Harmon, always willing to experiment, changes anything, will the viewers be disappointed or embrace the change? This is all just speculation, though: In a recent blog post, Harmon said the season’s revival was “definitely in the ‘eh’ column,” adding, “For a million reasons, some selfish, some creative, one logistic, five sexual, three racist (in a good way) and, oddly, nine isometric.”
Community‘s third season is one of the most radical, hilarious, experimental pieces of network television since Moonlighting literally deconstructed itself on air thirty years ago. The Harmon-less season four was, as you probably know, quite bad, but the kind of bad that’s hard to remember the next morning. The newest, and ostensibly last season was a return to glory, though it was considerably tamer than season three (understandable, given NBC’s willingness to give Harmon the axe like *SNAP* that).
The only question, other than Harmon and the gradually-diminishing cast’s willingness to return, is Hulu’s subscription fee. Will more people watch Community online, at their leisure, for Hulu Plus’s ten-bucks-a-month price? It’s certainly cheaper than paying for TV, but people may be stingy and unwilling to pay for Hulu if they already have Netflix (though the Criterion deal is a mighty sweet incentive).
Stay tuned for more news. Same Bat Time, same Bat Channel. #SixSeasonsAndAMovie