Community of Cancelled TV Shows

May 9, 2014 was a grim day for the television industry, as NBC cancelled the fan-favorite comedy series, “Community,” after five seasons. With the exclusion of the Dan Harmon-less fourth season, the show remained as one of my favorites since it first aired, and the news of its cancellation was heartbreaking, but also not surprising.

There were two big reasons why “Community” met its demise, and one of them correlates to its zany structure.

The show was infamous for its use of meta-humor, pop culture references, and parodies of famous movies, TV shows, along with the assortment of clichés both of them have produced over time. Though all of this humor is ingenious when compared to the types that are found in other comedy series’ airing today, it was a definitive acquired taste.

Television of allusions depends on one’s knowledge of what the show is making reference to, which unfortunately not every viewer is going to be aware of. It is a saddening reality because this aesthetic is one of the most pleasing to experience on the silver screen, but its ongoing weirdness is too much for some people to handle.

The second reason for “Community’s” cancellation, and what it easily the biggest one, is its low ratings. Ratings are the main juggernaut for TV networks determining the continuation of their shows, and today it’s used very unjustly. Even for all the critical acclaim and cult fanbase that “Community” had generated, NBC took it off the air solely because of that reason.

However it’s not just “Community” that has faced this slap-to-the-face treatment by big-name television networks; it goes for the industry as a whole since its inception.

The most notable culprits of this treatment are the Big Four networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX), all of whom cancel at least one great show off the air after each television season comes to a close. It’s sickening to know that this still goes on today, as it isn’t the sole thing that should merit a show’s cancellation.

As unpopular as they may be with mainstream audiences, critics’ reviews of various programs should be accounted more than they are right now. Though networks use blurbs of certain critics’ positive reviews to promote either the series or season premiere of one of their shows, the networks don’t seem to put them to any other good use.

The voice of a critic is critical in persuading people to view something they think is worth watching, so if they succeed in their goal of doing that, then they should play a better hand in influencing the continuation or cancellation of a show.

Another aspect that deserves a better hand in the cancellation debate is of course, the fans. In the past decade, people have shown devotion that hasn’t been seen before to try to save their shows from being cancelled. Remember the millions of people that staged massive “blackouts” across the country in an attempt to save “Flash Forward” from being cancelled? And of course there was the Occupy NBC movement that fans of “Community” conducted to grant the show a continuation past the end of its third seasons.

As outlandish as some cases of people’s devotions to a certain show can be, they all share one important thing: passion. From a network executive’s point-of-view, this is the most severely underappreciated facet in regard to keeping a show on the air. The fans speak loud and clear for what they love, and the self-centeredness of network heads prevent these communities from earning a representative voice. If networks continue to ignore the viewers that love one of their programs, then the repetitiveness of the industry producing one mediocre show after another is going to increase overtime.

When the word “cancelled” is announced for a popular TV show, we’re still left in disbelief for why it is taken off the air. Whether you’re “Twin Peaks” or “Freaks and Geeks,” it is agreed that quality is better than quantity in ratings. As long as we keep fighting against the networks, our voice will be heard on a collective level, and it will eventually merit our opinion on the continuation of our favorite shows.

 

Tyler Christian is a third-year film and media studies major. He can be reached at tmchrist@uci.edu.