There was a period of time when being a fan of Community could bring you a lot of stress. The show, doomed to the opening slot of NBC’s once-prestigious (and since abandoned) Must-See Thursday Night comedy lineup, barely eeked along in the ratings from the beginning. Thinking about its cancellation always seemed like a ‘when’ rather than an ‘if,’ and it often left viewers in constant anxiety about the delightfully weird, frequently meta, and always subversive little show.
Part of the reason it did survive for so long, (five seasons on NBC, and a sixth on Yahoo! Screen, which has also since been abandoned), was the show’s love affair with its audience it courted over social media. The way it interacted with fans, even incorporating their feedback into storylines, was unprecedented. So much so that showrunner Dan Harmon would throw out a hashtag on Twitter and it would be trending within minutes.
One hashtag that fans themselves lifted from the season two episode “Paradigms of Human Memory” has since become the now-infamous #SixSeasonsAndAMovie. It became a rallying cry for its rabid fanbase, a seemingly impossible goal for a show that constantly struggled to find a Nielsen audience.
Last night, Alison Brie, who played reformed Adderall addict Annie Edison, posted a photo on Instagram with her Community co-stars Danny Pudi and Ken Jeong, which was captioned “Fun with friends!” along with the show’s de facto hashtag. After some internet sleuthing (e.g. clicking through the rest of Brie’s Instagram feed), the three were out seeing an early screening of Ibiza, a movie that co-stars Gillian Jacobs, who played Britta on Community.
While there’s been lots of talk about Community fulfilling its destiny with a full-length film since the sixth season concluded in 2015, there’s no evidence that there’s one in the works (at least… not yet). Harmon has been openly proactive about the idea, and earlier this year series star Joel McHale seemed to imply that it was certainly possible. Though McHale also points out that they’d have to work around Donald Glover’s schedule, as he’s become something of a megastar since his character, Troy Barnes, left the show partway through the fifth season to sail around the world with Levar Burton. Since then, Glover’s created the revolutionary Atlanta, becoming a musical sensation as Childish Gambino, and is starring as a young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Star Wars movie Solo.
Glover’s success notwithstanding, the several hundred comments from hopeful Community fans show that they’re still holding out for one last trip to Greendale’s study room. And if there’s one show that’s proven, time and again, that it can thrive solely on social media buzz, it’s this one.