'Community' fans wait on pins and needles for "#sixseasonsandamovie" announcement

During the second season of NBC's "Community," the writers decided to do a bit of mocking cross-promotion of the network's "The Cape." The show's pop culture powder keg, Abed, is immediately obsessed with the show. Meanwhile, every other character realizes that the show, literally about a vigilante cop with a magic cape, is likely doomed for a swift cancellation. In response, Abed triumphantly declares that "The Cape" will have "six seasons and a movie."

A rallying cry was born.

"The Cape" predictably came and went; a victim to low ratings in an age where the superhero genre had long cooled on television. However, it was not as if "Community" was in a much better position to rub it in their faces. "Community" has never been a particularly big ratings smash, surviving on the backs of a fanbase that is as loud as it is small. It also did not hurt that it is on an anemic NBC, which continues to see dismal ratings outside of "The Voice" and NFL games. The ratings may be small, but unlike so many other NBC comedies that have come and gone since "Community" premiered in 2009, they are reliable.



It is this reliability that has made "Community" a perennial last resort for NBC, waiting until the very last moment at the end of the season to renew the show every year since it started. It is because of this that the "six seasons and a movie" line became such a pervasive part of the show's fan vocabulary; they realize the show's ratings will not sustain its existence forever, but getting this far would be an amazing feat in its own right.

After the firing and rehiring of creator and showrunner Dan Harmon as well as the departures of two principal cast members (Chevy Chase and Donald Glover), the show that was never supposed to return for a second season is now on the tail end of its fifth. The ratings continue to be on the low end of NBC's network average, where it has served as counter programming against the CBS mega hit "The Big Bang Theory."

For those who have ritualistically panicked during the month of April as networks renew returning shows for the upcoming season, very little seems different for Community fans ... with one exception. It is finally on the verge of what seemed impossible when fans made it the number one trend on Twitter several Thursdays in a row in 2012: six seasons and a movie.

"#Sixseasonsandamovie" has become a brand upon itself, and it would be foolish to think NBC has not considered the marketing cache it carries. There is a small but definitely realistic chance fans will be deprived of their lusted over final stretch of episodes (and a movie), but at this point, it seems unlikely. Season five has seen a creative resurgence for the show that is making fans regret only wishing for six seasons. Perhaps they should revise their demands to, as former "Community" writer Megan Ganz once joked, 12 seasons and a theme park.

Reach the reporter at zheltzel@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @zachheltzel

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