After five years, it's time to drop the pretense that Community is an underdog on network television. As it approaches a syndication-worthy number of episodes, the once-constant fear that the show would be cancelled seems like a ghost story Annie might tell Abed just to rattle him rather than a legitimate concern. While not official, its renewal for a sixth season appears to be nigh, and even the show itself acknowledges this fact: "We'll be back next year," Abed says in "Basic Sandwich," the season five finale that aired last night. (The cruel twist of fate, of course, would be for now to be the time NBC decides to pull the plug. The show remains on the cancellation bubble.).
This on-the-verge-of-ending fear has been so palpable that the past three season finales have felt more like series finales instead, operating under the assumption that yes, this could in fact be the curtain. The final episode of season three was titled "Introduction to Finality" and the lamentable season four finale was "Advanced Introduction to Finality". Community fans seem perpetually in the midst of a "save our show" campaign, hashtags (#sixseasonsandamovie, #savegreendale) and all. The show has never been given an easy time when it comes to renewals from NBC, which gives credence to Harmon and the crew always preparing for the worst, but the show just hit the 97-episode mark. That's many more than most of NBC's recent comedies, and many more than most shows on network television get these days (not to even mention cable, though low episode counts there are purposeful). The lovable losers label works for the characters on the show still, but no longer for the show itself: Community is very much a winner.