Not even the famous Community hashtag #sixseasonsandamovie could prevent NBC from putting the show on hiatus, moving it to Fridays, firing its creator, ordering only half of Season 4, and then delaying the premiere for months. Twice.
But the buzz around the fandom’s first con, CommuniCon, may finally push the series to the forefront of NBC’s—and more importantly, Nielsen’s—attention.
The geekgasmic comedy has been unable to nab ratings despite a strong online fanbase and critical acclaim. It was just voted E’s “Best Comedy” for the second year in a row, and an episode from last season was nominated for a Hugo. But despite the fact that ratings have plummeted for the show every single year, that hasn’t stopped Community’s fanbase from becoming one of the Internet’s largest. The widespread Internet love has worked, up to a point: During last year’s hiatus, the famous #sixseasonsandamovie Twitter push boosted the second post-hiatus episode to a whopping 4.75 million views.
But it still hasn’t been enough to guarantee that Community would actually make it to that fabled six season, and as Season 3 closed out the spring with dismal ratings, fans were hit with a double whammy: The show was booted off Thursday nights to the dreaded Friday death zone timeslot (though it was later restored to Thursdays), and beloved creator and showrunner, Dan Harmon, was fired.
Though NBC declared its love for the show, actions speak louder, and as fans reacted with vehement outpourings of outrage and grief, one of them, Gillian Morshedi, decided to take a little action of her own.
“The idea for CommuniCon started on Twitter,” she told the Daily Dot. “I started tweeting about the show right after the third season hiatus was announced, and became twitter friends with a lot of other fans pretty quickly... we'd reference the pipe dream of all getting together every so often.”
After the firing of Dan Harmon, Morshedi looked at what was happening to Community and its fandom and realized they could all use a reason to hang out:
“The third season was a really difficult one, with the hiatus, and not knowing whether a fourth season would happen, and then finding out about Dan right after the finale. A lot of us felt really exhausted and defeated, and it motivated me to try to put something together that we could all look forward to, and that would remind the writers, cast, and crew how much we love the show and appreciate them.”
CommuniCon is already appropriately meta: It will take place at the actual location where Community is filmed. The fictional Greendale Community College is actually Los Angeles City College, where many of the exteriors in Season 1 were filmed, though things could change, including the location, if interest in the con is unexpectedly large. Right now things are fairly small-scale: a two-day meetup on Feb. 9-10, two days after the premiere of Season 4, with hoped-for appearances from Harmon and possibly members of the cast and crew. Think of it as a giant, two-day Dreamatorium.
Though the schedule doesn’t include any of the more infamous goings-on at the fictional Greendale, such as paintball wars, raves, and the zombie apocalypse, it does have other enticements for Community fans, such as “Giving Dan Harmon a microphone and getting out of his way for a while.”
“I would also really love to involve members of the crew, as well as some of the actors who play smaller recurring roles,” Morshedi told the Dot. “Additionally, there will likely be involvement from the people behind the SixSeasonsAndAMovie art show that took place in L.A. this summer, as well as the developers of the Journey To The Center of Hawkthorne game.”
It all sounds streets ahead. But will a few thousand fans gathering in one place be enough to save Community? Probably not; but between this and other fan campaigns, it’s likely that the steady buzz for the show that has brought in numerous viewers over the years could rake in at least one or two more Nielsen families.
“#3andahalfseasonsandaconvention,” Harmon tweeted last week to promote the con. Even if this fan gathering isn’t enough to save Community, it will still be a great way to celebrate the show before the show’s currently expected cancellation at the end of this year.
And if Community fans don’t Britta this, they could just find themselves with the best reason of all to keep the party going next year: Season 5.
Illustration by Ben Deguzman