After seven years off the air, the cult classic sitcom "Community" has its long-awaited movie finally announced, and fans are excited.
From writer and producer Dan Harmon, creator of other popular shows such as "Rick and Morty," "Community" is a 2009 sitcom that premiered on NBC. Following a group of students attending a fictional community college, the series starred an ensemble cast consisting of Joel McHale, Alison Brie, and most notably Donald Glover. “Community” was critically acclaimed for its meta humor, homages to popular films and subversions of sitcom tropes.
Despite having concluded in 2015, "Community" fans rallied behind the slogan, "six seasons and a movie," a call for a feature-length film. After years of speculation, the film was announced to be coming to Peacock in September 2022. The movie will see the return of cast members such as McHale and Brie, with Harmon acting as an executive producer.
Oftentimes, the return of previously beloved sitcoms is met with mixed reception. A notable example is the 2003 Fox series, "Arrested Development." Despite having been acclaimed prior to its cancellation in 2006, the fourth and fifth seasons of “Arrested Development” saw mixed reactions when the series returned in 2013 and 2018, respectively, on Netflix.
Peter Murrieta is a professor at the The Sidney Poitier New American Film School. To Murrieta, excitement for the return of "Community" is rooted in the show's troubled production, which limited the series' length.
"'Community' was never the darling of pop culture when it was on," Murrieta said. "Unlike with 'Friends,' the audience who watched it felt starved for more because of its many issues."
Similar to "Arrested Development," "Community" suffered from consistently low ratings each season despite its cult following. NBC had canceled the series following its fifth season. Although revived on the short-lived Yahoo! Screen streaming platform in 2015, several members of the original cast had left the series by that point, including Glover. The show was canceled once more by Yahoo!.
For others, it was the show's subversive elements that made it so enduring and stand out from other sitcoms, making it an exception to the phenomena experienced by shows such as "Arrested Development." One such individual includes Udayketan "Uday" Mohanty, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering.
"Whether it was the 'will they or won’t they' or a clip show, 'Community' always found a way to take a popular trope and turn it on its head," Mohanty said. "It felt very ambitious compared to other similar shows."
Alongside its subversive writing, "Community" was also known for its cinematic, high-concept episodes. These ranged from episodes covering campus-wide paintball wars to the characters taking animated form in a stop-motion Christmas special.
For Mohanty, this quality allowed the series to become increasingly thrilling, a parallel to his own university experience.
"When I first started school, things were fairly run of the mill," Mohanty said. "But through joining clubs and taking part in intramural sports, college became a lot more exciting. Likewise, 'Community' became more interesting as it embraced the high concept storylines over the slice-of-life stories."
For Hermance Luff, a senior majoring in sustainability who first watched the show back in 2016, it was the chemistry of the characters that made the show so appealing.
"It is one of the only shows I watch that makes me forget they are actors acting," Luff said. "The chemistry of the actors is also something that sets this show apart."
Similarly to Mohanty, Luff also discussed the parallels between her own college experience and those of the characters in 'Community.'
"The social dynamics presented are more-or-less how college feels a lot of the time," Luff said. "I think the ability for many to relate to this show is another strong reason for the upcoming movie."
Despite its cancellation in 2015, "Community" witnessed a resurgence in popularity when the show landed on Netflix in April 2020. This, along with a virtual reunion special in May 2020 consisting of most of the original cast, led to increased calls for a film.
From cancellations to cast exits, "Community" was a series defined by a tumultuous run. Regardless, the series maintained its strong cult following due to its clever writing and fleshed-out characters, making many excited for its return.
Whether or not the "Community" movie will live up to expectations, or be regarded as a disappointment similar to the return of "Arrested Development," is yet to be seen. But one thing is certain: fans are excited to finally see the phrase 'six seasons and a movie' be fulfilled.
Edited by Claire van Doren, Wyatt Myskow and Grace Copperthite.
Amir Imam is a reporter for the Echo, providing a unique lens for The State Press and ASU to view pop culture and media through. His articles have covered major projects being done by professors, news in pop culture, and events relevant to students.