Both Community and Happy Endings face impending cancellations by NBC and ABC respectively. Neither show has performed well in the ratings nor both have been given multiple chances to escape the axe in previous seasons. In Community’s case, the departures of creator Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase have hurt its odds even further.
As we saw last year with Cougar Town and will see with Arrested Development in May, ratings challenged but beloved shows don’t necessarily end after they’ve been unplugged from the cruel matrix of network television. Cable networks and Netflix have shown a willingness to take on shows with built in cult audiences. This is no guarantee by any means, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Community is certainly the more interesting case of the two. The show’s fan base is easily the most rabid since Arrested Development and the fan campaigns started two years ago. The hashtag #sixseasonsandamovie has worked in the past. We haven’t really seen the full effects of Twitter on these types of cases, but I wouldn’t rush to rule it out.
Happy Endings will likely face the more gruesome demise of the two. The show lacks the kind of powerful fan base that’s kept Parks & Recreation and Community out of relative danger (until now) despite low ratings. In ABC’s defense, the network has aired multiple “save Happy Endings” commercials in an effort to stir the kind of reaction that Community pulls in social media.
There’s also the problem that neither one of these shows are particularly attractive to new viewers. Both shows rely heavily on gags that are only funny to longtime viewers, making them unappealing to new networks. Cougar Town was in a similar boat, which worked out well but this is a factor that should not be ignored.
Arrested Development’s revival should not be looked to as a blueprint for a few reasons. The show’s star power (Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Will Arnett, plus producer Ron Howard) outguns both Community and Happy Endings. The role of services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video have provided Arrested Development with new fans in the years that followed its cancellation. Neither one of these shows have that luxury.
Happy Endings is not going to be back on ABC. Whether it moves to TBS, Netflix, or even dark horse like Amazon remains to be seen. Community could in theory show up on NBC, but I wouldn’t count on it happening. This might actually be for the best, since NBC’s handling of the show has been quite subpar over the past two years.
The important thing to remember is that television shows get cancelled. As Arrested Development, Cougar Town, Family Guy, and a few others (key emphasis on the few) have shown, sometimes they come back. The best course of action is to find a new show and carry on. There’s plenty of great television out there.