This Week in Comedy: NBC sitcom woes, Community returns!

By Katherine Wurtz,
NBC drops Parks and Recreation and adds Community to their struggling schedule.

NBC quietly announces unexpected ‘hiatus’ for sitcom Parks & Recreation while simultaneously giving the green light to Community. This week has everyone wondering, is the network slowly slipping into sitcom senility?

NBC’s hasty announcement, given last Friday to pull Parks and Recreation has created quite a stir with some wondering if the series is on its last legs. Further, this has NBC wondering if their high hopes for this season’s comedy trio, which, in addition to Parks includes Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show, is a lost cause.

What has not been addressed, however, is that NBC has been struggling, not just this season, but for years as Entertainment Weekly points out. The network's signature comedy block has fallen 17 percent since last year, and 57 percent since 2009.
Not long after announcing their decision to pull Parks, NBC also decided to bring back primetime underdog Community. You can read additional coverage here.

After losing two comedy series in addition to the new, but cancelled drama Ironside, NBC is filling up air time with tried and true comedy…Saturday Night Live reruns of Christmases past.

So, should you be worried about the future of Parks? As the Nielsen data shows, probably not.

Parks brings consistency, even if it is a small fraction in comparison to the audience of CBS rival sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which brought in almost 18 million viewers this past week.

The people have spoken and NBC has not listened, resulting in embarrassing scheduling issues and poor, spineless comedy all across the board. Continuing last week’s discussion over the SNL diversity issue could be an eye-opener. Casting has consistently delivered a stereotypical, recycled form of funny by shunning the new and sticking with the old.

The network’s saving grace? Community. It embodies everything and anything the network has lacked in expectation, but by prioritizing ill-received comedies with the likes of Sean Hayes, what do they expect? A revolution? If Hayes were capable of pulling his own show’s weight, he wouldn’t have needed Debra Messing in the first place.

Community is incredibly popular with a small, but loyal fan base. The network is smart for reintroducing the series. The cast is contagious, and most importantly, relatable, which is the inherent foundation of a successful show. Cast favorites include SNL alum Chevy Chase, who delivers iconic congruity with his much greener co-stars, including Donald Glover who is originally known for his collegiate sketch comedy group. Community incorporates natural, ‘born ready’ talents with classically trained actors such as actress, Gillian Jacobs, a former study of the Julliard School. Using good storytelling, a modern landscape and a non-stop hilarious cast of diverse characters and comedians alike, no production could ring truer of the changes in primetime comedy.

Clearly, NBC knows where comedy is going, but doesn’t know how to take the ultimate leap of faith. Putting priority on what has historically brought in the ratings has turned into a Shakespearean tragedy. The peacock’s feathers have been ruffled, but if the network thinks a safe pass is going to save them, they need to revisit the numbers.

With sitcom comedy in jeopardy, we can always rely on Jimmy Fallon’s puppy predictions to produce a solid, hearty laugh. We look forward to Fallon taking over for Jay Leno in the coming months.

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