Community Season 6 Was Destined To Fail (Sorry Yahoo!)

The 2010s saw a strange boom in canceled shows getting second lives on different platforms. Thanks to fervent online fandoms, shows that did not blow the roof off ratings-wise could still generate enough noise to show various companies that there was still more to be done with the characters they loved. Typically, it was Netflix sweeping in to save shows. "Arrested Development" got two new seasons on Netflix seven years after NBC canned it. "Lucifer" got three. "You" got one and has another on the way, and "Manifest" is getting a new season in the near future. Hulu and Prime Video also have taken second chances on shows like "Veronica Mars," "The Expanse," and a forthcoming "Futurama" revival. We even saw Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" get saved by fellow broadcast network NBC.

One revival stood out from the rest, and that would be the Dan Harmon created sitcom "Community." After five seasons of a fairly tumultuous behind the scenes production of a truly phenomenal show, NBC decided to cancel it, cutting off the #sixseasonsandamovie mantra the show had created at the knees. Sony Pictures Television, who produced "Community," knew there was still an obsessive group of fans (including me) who would continue to devour the show. So, it started shopping the series around. Netflix: No. Hulu: No. Prime Video: No. Another network: no. "Community" was not a cheap show to produce; its nature was that of experimentation, and while that is why so many people loved the show, it is also why it was hard for companies to justify the cost vs. value. That is until an unlikely hero emerged. One no one saw coming. One a lot of people didn't know existed. The platform that agreed to give "Community" the sixth season to partially fulfill that hashtag was Yahoo! Screen.

There's a reason you either forgot that was a platform or didn't even know it was one to begin with. Things ... did not go well.

Biting off more than they could chew

Yahoo!, the place where you used to have an e-mail address 15 years ago (or still do if you are me), had long had a video section of its site after the creation of YouTube (which its competitor Google eventually bought), but in 2011, the company decided to rework its video section into Yahoo! Screen and focus on creating original web series. "Burning Love," a parody of reality dating shows created by Erica Oyama, was probably the most successful series. While they did star name actors and had some production value, the shows were still very much web series. Episodes would last anywhere from 5-12 minutes long, which in the early 2010s was supposedly all people could handle watching online video. While the shows had their fans, they were not necessarily the most viral pieces of media, especially since Yahoo! as a search engine and e-mail platform was already on the decline.

In 2015, Yahoo! Screen got a little overambitious. It decided to make full-on, proper television shows with half-hour running times and everything. The platform had the sitcom "Sin City Saints," starring Malin Åkerman, and the sci-fi comedy "Other Space," created by Paul Feig. This is also when the decision-makers behind the scenes took a leap of faith by bringing "Community" back from the dead, believing that the hardcore fans of the show would flock to the service and give it a new life. This, as you can probably guess, did not happen. Sure, some "Community" fans did come and watch the show, but if they were anything like me, they would just go there to watch "Community" on the day a new episode would show up. I was not browsing around Yahoo! Screen's catalogue to check out all its shows and give them more ad revenue. 

Yahoo! Screen tried to hitch its entire service on a show that was incredibly niche rather than bring in a show to a platform that was already successful. Yahoo! ended up having to write off about $42 million and canceled all its shows. In an earnings call from 2015 [via Variety], former Yahoo! CFO Ken Goldman said of the cancellations:

"We thought long and hard about it, and what we concluded is (for) certain of our original video (series), we couldn't see a way to make money over time ... We're not saying we're not going to do these at all in the future. But what we are saying is, in three cases at least, it didn't work the way we had hoped it to work, and we've decided to move on."

Yahoo! Screen never made another series. "Community" may have gotten its sixth season, but it killed a streaming service in the process. If you are going to go out, might as well do it in a blaze of glory.

A financial failure doesn't mean an artistic one

A lot of people who care about film and television have this strange compulsion to equate the quality of a project with its box office, ratings, and engagement. If a movie is a flop, it must not have been any good. If nobody watched the show, it must have been because it was bad. Season 6 of "Community" may have been on a streaming platform few people knew existed, but that does not mean that it was not brimming with creativity. season 5 of the show had to spend a lot of time reorienting "Community" back to its roots after creator Dan Harmon was re-hired as showrunner after getting fired after season 3, as well as contend with departing cast members Donald Glover and Chevy Chase. That season featured a lot of great stuff, but figuring out a new status quo was a little difficult.

With season 6, they had figured all that out. Even though they lost another cast member in Yvette Nicole Brown, they were able to find another fascinating dynamic between the remaining members of the "Greendale 7," as well as bringing more into the fold Jim Rash's Dean and Ken Jeong's Chang. They also struck gold with two new cast members in Keith David and Paget Brewster. In particular, Brewster's Frankie injected such a wonderful energy to the group that never felt like she was trying to compensate for a missing former cast member. It was as if she was always meant to be apart of the show. As she says in the show's finale, Frankie was a "humble outsider that came in and nailed it."

Does season 6 match the heights of the show's season 2 peak? No, but almost no sitcom ever has. That is a near impossible bar for someone to reach. Season 6 was a major improvement on the previous season, though, and the series finale served as a far funnier and more poignant sendoff than the wishy washy season 5 finale ever did. If you never watched season 6 because Yahoo! Screen just eluded you, go give it a look. It's on Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. You're bound to have at least one of those.


Season 6 was able to knock out one part of #sixseasonsandamovie, but "Community" fans have been waiting with bated breath for the movie. Since this show's end in 2015, the state of that film has been in constant flux. As recently as last year, Dan Harmon has said the "gears are turning" on the "Community" movie, but who knows if it will actually ever happen? The large cast is filled with busy, successful people, and wrangling them all together would be a little tricky (particularly one: Donald Glover). When the show popped up on Netflix for the first time, interest in the show certainly seemed to be revitalized, but that also happened to be April 2020, which turned out to be the perfect time for a long-running TV show that people could devour with so much time on their hands to hit a streaming service. If Netflix sees that enthusiasm has lasted, perhaps they will give them the go-ahead in a deal with Sony Pictures Television. I'm not counting on it.

The series finale ends with a title card that reads "#andamovie." While I'm skeptical, I hope it happens. "Community" is a show that means a lot to me and so many others. It was a show for people who looking for a sense of belonging and could find it (like me), and I would love to spend another couple hours with these characters.