I posted this letter to Reddit and was directed to The Hollywood Reporter, which states that NBC might be making this move to allow for a greater marketing push when Community does arrive. While this doesn’t change everything—I feel that the timing of NBC’s announcement was still poor, and my point about losing the trust of the community still stands—it does provide a potential valid reason for NBC’s decision that I had not anticipated. Time will tell if this will actually happen, but for now I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m leaving the letter as-is below, excepting a few modifications for clarity and grammatical accuracy, for the sake of honesty and openness on my part.
To Whom It May Concern,
Before I started watching Community, I had no concept of network loyalty and no allegiance to first-run broadcast television. Growing up, I would rent DVDs of TV show seasons or watch multi-episode runs on syndication networks. I didn’t feel at any loss if I missed a show that I liked while it was airing, and (quite often) would put off watching any of it until the season had moved to a more convenient format so that I could watch several episodes in a row.
Community changed my perspective on the value of broadcast television. The unique brilliance and quality of the show, combined with the dedicated fanbase surrounding it, drove me to keep current with the show and watch it live whenever I had the opportunity. I kept watching, not only to know what happened next, but also to stay abreast of the new cultural context the show was establishing among fans both online and offline. Because of Community, I started watching the other shows in your Thursday night lineup, such as Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, and Up All Night. I thought of Thursday nights as one time in my week that I would uniquely try to clear my schedule to be able to enjoy some quality programming.
Community also made me uniquely loyal to your network. As I stated previously, I didn’t have any conception of network loyalty growing up—I was familiar with a few shows, and I followed them from a distance, but I did not care about the network that produced them. Community not only made me aware of network brands, but made me an ally of yours—I felt that you were supporting some truly innovative and incredible art, and, as such, I was drawn to giving any show you funded a chance, because I knew that you took a risk to make Community a reality.
In the end, NBC, you made this show happen. No matter how great an idea is, no matter how passionate of a creative team one might have, you simply cannot create a show of this scope without significant funding. Crowd-funding cannot produce a 22-minute weekly TV show for half a year. That might change, but for now you have the opportunity to gain my loyalty through your funding decisions.
The series of gaffes NBC has committed concerning Community over the last several months, culminating in the indefinite postponement of Community a week before its premiere, has made me realize that you lack respect not only for your show but also for the viewership that values it so greatly. I read your press release. Quite honestly, I don’t believe your argument for shelving Community. You gave Community next to zero advertising power last season, leaving it as a half-second still in your Thursday-night-lineup advertisements. I would have to assume this meant that you did not think any substantial audience cared about Community. If this is the case, why would the show have any sort of audience power to be worth putting “in your back pocket”?
And if you do realize the draw this show has, why would you treat its fanbase so flippantly? You’ve been building buzz about the premiere on your Facebook page since July 9th. That’s nearly three months’ worth of announcing and reminding your fans to tune into the show on a specific date before silently and suddenly putting it on the shelf a week before that date. At the risk of stating the obvious, such a move completely and totally violates your audience’s trust, and they would be justified in holding anything you say about this show or anything else you air under great suspicion.
In sum, NBC, Community makes you relevant to me. I have a hectic life. I don’t watch that much television. To be blunt, I don’t care enough about SNL, The Office, or any of the shows you air Mondays - Wednesdays to set aside time to watch them if you are going to betray my trust about your commitment to this show. I have many other avenues of entertainment that are far more convenient for my schedule, and I do not have time for a network that seems to view me and my community as an insubstantial pawn in some view-count shell game. You are losing many, many potential patrons of your network through this move, including myself, who are not only withdrawing from your Friday night scheduling but from your network altogether.
Community matters to us. If you wish for us to give your network our patronage, please treat us with a modicum of respect.