Why Six Seasons and a Movie?
For all those that watched the season 3 finale of Community, you would have seen the #sixseasonsandamovie text appear at the close of the episode. But why use that Twitter hashtag instead of something more straightforward, like “thank you” or “(not) the end?” Well, Community is anything but straightforward. In the second season “Paradigms of Human Memory” episode, “six seasons and a movie” was first uttered by Abed Nadir in response to Jeff Winger’s assertion that The Cape would not last longer than three weeks on the air. At the time, it was just a throwaway joke insinuating that a niche show like The Cape could have the same degree of mainstream success as a show like Sex and the City. The Community audience would find themselves in the same situation as Abed just months later.
Towards the end of 2011, NBC announced that it would be putting Community on hiatus with no concrete return date. While not an outright cancellation, the possibility was still present. Television networks continue to rely on the archaic Nielsen ratings system to gauge audience interest. It became imperative that the fanbase prove to NBC that there was a sizeable enough audience without Nielsen boxes that were watching the show via nontraditional means. In order to do that, they needed to make a lot of noise.
The Community fanbase is one of the most passionate groups of people you will come across. What separates them from Trekkies, Whovians, and Twihards, is that their object of interest has yet to reach mainstream success. Community has actually been closer to the brink of cancellation than they would like to know. And yet, it’s that type of underdog-chip-on-the-shoulder-back-against-the-wall mentality that drives the fans to do what they do. The “six seasons and a movie” phrase was quickly appropriated as a rallying call to make it easier to organize activities like wearing fake goatees or arranging flashmobs to sing a song from the show or contributing more than 30000 comments on a single A.V. Club episode review article. In PixelDrip’s case, we wanted to organize an art show that gathered incredible fan artwork from all over the globe. Dan Harmon and company certainly aren’t blind to any of this. They actively encourage it! There’s a cyclical relationship between the show and its fans. Not only do they have mutual love and admiration, but they also inspire each other into becoming something better.
Since the show’s March 15th return and announcement of a shortened season 4, the Community fanbase has reverted back to using old standbys like “cool, cool, cool” and the writers have created new hashtags like #thefallofchang. But none of those phrases will reach the significance of “six seasons and a movie.” That simple phrase is all at once a throwaway joke, a benchmark of success in the entertainment industry, a trending hashtag, a wink to the fans, a rallying cry, and a season/series capstone. A show as deeply and densely layered as Community can’t just end with a fade to black. It has to end with an explosive flash of white to the phrase that represents the unlimited potential of the show and its relationship with the audience.