Yesterday NBC shocked and dismayed fans of their show Community when they released their midseason schedule and the sitcom was nowhere to be found. NBC swears it will return at some point in the spring, but even if it does, this does not bode well for a season four. So what happened? Why does this critically beloved show continue to struggle? We have three explanations.
1. No Welcome Mat
Community is an endlessly clever show. Clever not necessarily always in a funny ha-ha way, but in a tricky, canny way. It's full of asides and narrative callbacks and subtle yet intricate references in a way that really no other show is. And that's all well and good, it's what makes the show the show, but good grief did it become awfully impenetrable awfully fast. It didn't take long for all of the quirk and cutesiness and sly winking to pile up into a wall that was likely too high to climb for many a new viewer. And it certainly doesn't help that that wall is slathered in a coat of daunting smugness. Again, the show is fun and witty once you figure your way into it, but it takes a while, and many a fickle TV viewer just isn't willing to put in that time. The show needs (needed?) to be a little less into itself, a little bit less of an inward-facing nerd knot, if they hope (hoped?) to bring in new viewers. We're not saying the show has to dumb itself down, it just has to be more welcoming, it needs a least a few occasional access points. A deliberately obscure Star Wars reference followed by a self-satisfied smirk just isn't going to cut it.