After five turbulent seasons as NBC's neglected comedy stepchild, Community finally found a home for its coveted sixth season (and a movie, perhaps?) on the streaming network, Yahoo Screen. There, creator Dan Harmon's unique vision and comedic style isn't hindered by constant executive oversight and meddling. Instead, Yahoo appears simply content to let Harmon do his thing.
Yahoo's hands-off approach is clearly working. Despite more major changes to the core cast, Community's sixth season has been well received. And thanks to its switch from broadcast television to the world wide web, it's audience has never been bigger.
During a recent episode of his podcast, Harmontown, Harmon talked about Community's viewership on Yahoo Screen, saying:
"Everybody in the world watches Community, now we know, now that we're not being measured by Nielsen ... Surprise, surprise, you know, Yahoo knows how to count the clicks."
Harmon doesn't share exactly what those numbers of clicks might be, but that Yahoo has the data and it's "two or three" times more than he would have guessed. "I always knew," he adds, "there was like way more people watching this s**t than what ever that .9 represented."
Obviously, there was always an audience for Community, and Yahoo is proving that if you let Harmon make his show, they will come (and click and watch).
While discussing this week's most recent episode of Community in a postmortem on Yahoo, Harmon reflects on feeling less restricted and how that's led to a stronger show. Specifically, Harmon talks about how Community is better when it isn't planned.
"As much as I like a lot of season three’s episodes, the things I didn’t like about season 3 are the things that were planned in advance. Because that was the season where NBC demanded that we pitch the entire season to them before they decided if there would be a season 3, so we had to come up with all these arcs.
I get better results — slightly better results — by not planning stuff. So we talk about what Jeff would be going through at this stage; we talk about those concepts at the beginning of the season. What we don’t do is say, okay, by episode 3, he’s going to go from being this to that. We just keep those characters in that area.
So, for instance, we’re seeing Jeff struggling with the idea that — whereas he began this series as the character that thought he was too cool for school — he is now, most certainly, the least cool among them and is doomed to stay there forever because he has no other options. Everyone else is relatively younger and has relatively more options. His worst nightmare has become a reality, in a sense. So we’ve been watching Jeff struggle with that. We don’t know what the resolution to that is at the beginning of the season; we just decide that that’s going to be the theme of his emotional state for the season."
It appears that at least for now, allowing Harmon the creative control he was clearly lacking while at NBC has paid off for Yahoo. And, generally speaking, fans seems to agree.
What have you thought of Community season six so far? Has being on Yahoo Screen given the series a creative resurgence? Let us hear from you in the comments below!
Community season six is available for streaming every Tuesday on Yahoo Screen.