Hulu and Community producers Sony Pictures Television are in talks for a sixth season of the comedy series, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The news comes weeks after NBC canceled the community college comedy after five seasons.
"You can't get to six seasons and a movie without six seasons," Sony Pictures Television co-president Jamie Erlicht told THR on May 14, a week after NBC canceled the series. "We, more than any other studios, fight for shows that we believe in. This show had a remarkable history. There are real conversations we need to have with everyone as soon as we get back. We've been on the receiving end of some phone calls, but we really need to get together with the Community team and have real conversations and figure out the future. If there's any show that should have a future or could have a future, it really feels like Community is the one."
Added SPT co-president Zack Van Amburg: "If Dan Harmon feels that this is the darkest timeline, then we'll figure out very quickly how to turn that around. So we need to get to our partner and we've had some really interesting conversations and a few incoming phone calls, which was really nice."
A Community revival would not be out of the question considering the show's constant near-cancellation status over its five-season run. SPT packaged Community with The Blacklist and helped get a fifth season pickup at NBC despite sagging ratings. For its part, Hulu airs current episodes of the series the day after their original broadcast, with Community ranking as one of the site's best performing TV series.
The recently concluded, Harmon-helmed fifth season averaged a 1.1 in the adults 18-49 demo and 3 million total viewers, both off slightly versus season four. But with DVR factored in, the series grew to a 1.5 rating and 3.7 million total viewers -- both modest upticks for a show that was used as a midseason replacement for the second time.
The series did not seem to immediately benefit from Comedy Central's launch of the show in syndication, which started in the fall before its midseason bow on NBC.
Harmon, meanwhile, addressed the show's future a week after its cancellation in a lengthy blog post. The outspoken showrunner -- who was replaced for Community's fourth season -- admitted to feeling "eh" at first when studio SPT floated the idea about Community living elsewhere: "For a million reasons, some selfish, some creative, one logistic, five sexual, three racist (in a good way) and, oddly, nine isometric." (???) But after several days, Harmon promised that he "won’t be lukewarm" about a revival should it become a serious conversation. "I said ‘eh’ on a Friday afternoon, I will change it to a ‘sure, let’s talk’ on Monday morning and Sony can do their thing,” he wrote. “I’m not going to be the guy that re-cancels canceled Community.”
Harmon was careful to temper fan expectations about a Community return. "I’m scared to tell you how little a difference I think my enthusiasm will make," he wrote. "I know fandom, when it gets this deep for this long, becomes almost religious, including the urge to stone the less than faithful. But there are lots of reasons a Community resurrection could be difficult. So be prepared for that."
Community has been a perennial bubble series during the course of its five-season run. The series was one of only two comedies to return to NBC's schedule for the 2014-15 season (Parks and Recreation was the other). NBC's decision to cancel Community left Parks as its longest-running comedy heading into the 2014-15 season. (That series, like Community, was held back for midseason, where the series will bow out with a 13-episode final run.)
For their part, Harmon and the cast have been vocal about the possibility of a sixth-season pickup. Speaking at PaleyFest in March, star Joel McHale joked: "We know there's going to be a sixth season or else you'll probably show up with pitchforks and torches," with Harmon saying the only thing weirder than getting a sixth season "would be not getting a sixth season."
Meanwhile, Harmon's animated Adult Swim comedy Rick and Morty already has been renewed for a second season.