This was not unexpected given that Parks & Recreation does okay after The Office and Community has become The Show in its second season (not the most popular show, not even the one that will win Emmys, but the one that has the most buzz around it), but NBC has taken both of those comedies off the bubble and renewed them for 2011-12.
Bob Greenblatt’s statement that Community is “a solid foundation for Thursday night” sounds ominously like he’s planning to keep it at 8 on Thursdays, which I think would be a bad sign, not for the show (which has proven it can do just enough to survive anywhere, at least while NBC has worse problems) but for the network’s willingness to be aggressive and not settle for low ratings in important time slots. Though you could argue that, especially if Idol remains on Thursday next season, NBC’s chances of regaining any kind of leadership on Thursdays are pretty much gone and they should concentrate on trying to find hit shows on other nights. Whatever; the network will have plenty of holes to fill and a show like Community, with a small but indestructably loyal (and demographically-desirable) audience, is perfectly capable of filling them.
The reputation of Community, as I said, has developed very quickly from a sort of charming cult show into the most worshipped comedy since, probably, Arrested Development. (And it looks like it will end up making more episodes than Arrested Development ever did.) Modern Family creator Steven Levitan said a while back that he “like[d] some aspects of Community,” causing Dan Harmon to get really angry at what he saw as a damning-with-faint-praise insult. This season Levitan has been effusive about how great Community is, and it’s gone from a show that was neglected by the Emmys to one that many showrunners worship — it’s the show they wish they were making.
I preferred the first season, or rather the second half of the first season. I theoretically love it when shows do different types of episodes every week, and one thing I’m grateful to Community for is that it’s showing the importance of the individual episode as a unit, at a time when many shows have given up on it and go into full-fledged soap opera (or in the case of sitcoms, two or three little stories woven together with no real unity of approach). But I just found it funnier last year. My reaction to a lot of the “big” episodes sometimes winds up being silent admiration (except for the Christmas episode, which I didn’t like); the “little” episodes are usually the ones that make me laugh, even when (like “Mixology Certification”) they’re not particularly jokey.
Obviously the show deserved to be renewed and I’m glad it was. I wonder if the show’s new status in the industry will be reflected in the Emmy nominations — or if it’s still not popular enough with some voters (older voters, perhaps? voters who find it too gimmicky?) to get over the hump. We’ll see; I’d expect Modern Family to dominate again, since like Community (and 30 Rock) it represents much of what insiders think a sitcom can be at its best, and it has the advantage (from an Emmy-winning point of view) of being a hit.
As to Parks & Recreation‘s Emmy chances, I have even less of a clue; it’s my favourite current sitcom but while it did get a nomination for Amy Poehler, it’s not clear just how far its reputation has spread, and its late start this season might not help. Rob Lowe probably raised its profile a bit, but I would still expect some Showtime thing to get the nomination instead.