According to tvbythenumbers.com and collider.com, Community’s episode last week was not a hit. Not that Community normally rates exceptionally high – it has a lower viewership than a lot of the other big shows of the same 8:00 PM time slot. Every Thursday, Community battles against The Big Bang Theory, American Idol, and the Vampire Diaries. In numbers, Community is closest to the show Vampire Diaries, which I suppose signifies that the two both target a specific niche, whereas Big Bang and Idol have over five times as many viewers.
It’s curious, then, that Community succeeds at all.
However, what makes a show successful is subjective. Is it the producers, the writers, the actors? A great concept, intriguing story line, perfect time slot, or the network? Or is it the “wild card“? But CNN insists that what really makes a show stick is its ability to take a well-established genre and add a zesty twist. And Community’s zesty twist is that it never lacks its twisted zest.
So, it really is that simple: people like Community because it is a strange show that exists to be strange.
But it is a niche show, and as such, the Nielsen ratings, in my opinion, don’t do justice to the exquisite tastes of the Community fanbase. The Nielsen ratings rely on how many people out of the entire social group aged 18-49 watch a show, and a niche show, which purposefully neglects to target people en mass, should be expected to score lowly. Because of Community’s wild card, their acclaimed quirkiness, Community fears its demise.
Once again, Community places the meta card on the table: Greendale Community College is constantly a hot mess struggling to prove itself as a school. Greendale prides itself on accepting any and all human beings while offering everything under the sun. The list of class offerings comprises of one ridiculous course after another, and most are unbelievable. In short, Greendale succeeds because of its strangeness, even though that same strangeness is what threatens its existence.
So, the key to Community’s success is simple: never stop doing that thing that will probably force it to cease. Ironic. No wonder Community has a niche fanbase.