by Ashley Thomas

In the fall of 2009 Community aired on NBC and while the show about a community college received glowing reviews from media outlets, its ratings were flat. Though their ratings were not great the network decided to give it a second chance.

Fast forward to next season, the ratings are not improving and NBC is beginning to lose faith but that all changes when episode 21 of the season airs. A one-off line about a beloved failing NBC show, The Cape, getting six seasons and a movie became something bigger. It even saved the show.

After NBC announced their fall schedule in the spring of 2011, fans of the show went into panic mode. Their beloved, quirky and often meta humored sitcom was not on the list of returning shows. So what does any fan of a television how do? They flock to social media.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 11.06.37 PMFans and cast began tweeting their outrage and heartbreak with hashtags such as “#savecommunity and #sixseasonsandamovie.” They made petitions, tweeted the show’s sponsors and sang a Community themed Christmas carol outside of NBC headquarters. The website College Humor also jumped on board making a PSA with help from the show’s cast.

The campaign worked. The show got renewed for a third season and the fans could finally relax and watch their show drama free, or so they thought. Tensions began to rise on set between the show’s creator and show runner, Dan Harmon, and cast member Chevy Chase. Voicemails were leaked and the other actors were asked about Chase’s actions on set instead of their show.

Even through scandal the show survived and was picked up for a fourth season. The cast also still refused to pick sides but the same could not be said about NBC. The network fired Harmon and hired two new show runners to take his place. The ratings fell and the show was once again in danger of getting the axe but fans once again rioted. They continued the hashtag, #sixseasonsandamovie, on all forms of social media and some fans even formed a #sixseasonsandamovie art exhibit in Los Angeles. The show also put the saying in yet another episode as a little Easter egg to the fans.

The show once again survived to see a fifth season and fans rejoiced. At PaleyFest Harmon told reporters, “We’re on our fifth year of near-cancellation. The only thing weirder than getting a sixth season would be not getting a sixth season.” Harmon apparently jinxed it because NBC canceled the show shortly after fans made #sixseasonsandamovie posters.

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Luckily online platforms saw the loyalty and outspokenness of fans on social media and Yahoo! Screen bought the rights the day before the actors’ contracts were set to expire.

Thus Community’s social media presence, particularly the infamous hashtag, demonstrates an excellent social media win because not only did it work to renew the show once but it helped them to achieve their six seasons, even though it will be on a new platform.

Michelle Jaworski, writer for The Daily Dot, seemed to put it best that at some point, “#sixseasonsandamovie became less about renewing the show for another year than about actually making it to six season and a movie.”

Even though the campaign was an obvious success, it’s now constricting because if the show does get a movie than where will they go from there? One of the writers once suggested the motto ten seasons and a theme park and while it’s meant to be humorous she had the right idea. They need to either broaden their hashtag or create a new one entirely in order to keep up their highly successful social media campaign. But whatever happens, Community will undoubtedly go down in history as the little engine that could all thanks to social media.

References

Dodds, E. (2014, March 28). Community Has Outgrown “Six Seasons and a Movie.” Retrieved from http://time.com/41776/community-six-seasons-movie/

Jaworski, M. (2014, May 9). Six seasons and a movie: A history of how ‘Community’ beat the odds. Retrieved from http://www.dailydot.com/geek/community-saved-fans/

Lynch, J. (2015, January 14). With Support From Yahoo, Community Now Looks to Go Beyond ‘6 Seasons and a Movie.’ Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/television/communitys-comeback-yahoo-will-include-ad-support-162357

Maske, K. (2011, November 15). Six Seasons And A Movie: The Stages Of ‘Community’ Grief On The Internet Retrieved from http://uproxx.com/webculture/2011/11/six-seasons-and-a-movie/#page/1

Prudom, L. (2014, July 24). Comic-Con: ‘Community’ Cast on the Move to Yahoo, Six Seasons and a Movie. Retrieved from http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/community-yahoo-season-six-movie-comic-con-1201268681/

Thielman, S. (2014, June 30). Community Is Getting Its Six Seasons (No Movie Yet). Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/television/community-getting-its-six-seasons-no-movie-yet-158677