Noah Sunshine || Senior Staff Writer
Community, for many, is a sore subject — it limped along for five seasons as NBC’s wit alongside goofball shows like Chuck and just creeping in the shadows behind TV juggernauts like 30 Rock. Ratings were never stellar, but the show embedded itself in pop culture through massively viral memes and cutting self-awareness. It wasn’t enough for NBC, and the show was dropped after five seasons and the loss of two of its biggest talents, Chevy Chase and Donald Glover (also known as the extremely talented rapper Childish Gambino).
Even though it never attained huge commercial success, it embodied true cult status, and the media interviewed Community’s stars practically weekly to ask about reunions, reboots, or a death-defying return to prime time. Questions were met with positivity and mystery, since not even the stars knew what would happen next.
Thanks to shows like House of Cards igniting the TV-on-streaming market, Community suddenly became marketable again as a show with a following and in need of a home, and internet giant Yahoo! picked it up last year. Earlier this month, Community dropped its first new episode in years.
Originally about a disbarred lawyer, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), attempting to get the undergrad degree he never got, the first four seasons saw Winger form a study group of diverse origins (referenced often in the show to parody its own “political correctness”) and navigate the armpit of highered known as Greendale. Instead of accepting over-the-hill status when everyone graduated, Season 5 brought Jeff back as a professor, and everyone else back as students after finding little success with their new degrees. It would have been a cop-out if it wasn’t made abundantly clear that the show knew how much of a cop-out it was. Instead, viewers were just relieved Community limped on.
Can Season 6 survive the continued cop-out on a shiny new inter-network? In a word, yes; three episodes and two new characters in, Season 6 still has the magic the show was born with. It still has jokes so subtle, you won’t get them until your third viewing, still features some of the strongest talent on TV, and still is so wryly aware of its own ridiculousness that it remains endearing and exciting. Yahoo! made the choice to release the season episodically instead of all at once (like House of Cards), and Community feels like it’s a bona fide show again.
Those that missed the earlier seasons can find 1-5 on Hulu Plus, and their 22 minute romps through classic TV tropes and obscurely satisfying pop-culture references can deftly entertain enough on the second and third time through to be worth the subscription cost. Once those are done, Season 6 streams free on Yahoo! Screen, their up-and-coming original programming service, airing a new episode every Tuesday.
Noah Sunshine is a senior staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.