The world of TV is littered with examples of much-loved but underwatched shows that aired for a season and disappeared, but few have had as strange a life as “Community,” the pop culture-obsessed show about a group of misfits at a community college. Perpetually near cancellation, the show has seen the departure of various cast members, and the firing and rehiring of creator Dan Harmon. After NBC finally pulled the plug, an unexpected savior popped up in the form of Yahoo, and the show returns today with new episodes.
Series star Gillian Jacobs (Britta) says she’s not too worried about the change in venue. “Post-‘House of Cards,’ you’d be silly to be nervous, especially at a place like Yahoo, that has the resources to really support the show,” she says. “You look at the other programming they’re doing — they have good taste! I mean, they liked us, so they have great taste.”
The show will be introducing two new characters, played by Paget Brewster and Keith David. “Paget’s character is very much in charge of keeping us in line, and we are an unruly crowd, so I think that’s a potential source of conflict. Keith’s character maybe intimidates Britta slightly,” says Jacobs.
The return of the show means viewers get to see all kinds of new journeys for the characters, and meet Britta’s parents, who are played by Martin Mull and Leslie Ann Warren (or Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlett, if you’re “Clue” fans).
“As a ‘Clue’ fan, I was really excited,” says Jacobs of the casting. “We’re starting to see a little bit more of the characters’ outside lives, help inform who they are, why they are, what the hell happened to Britta to make her Britta.”
She’s referring, of course, to the various characters’ tendency to call her “the worst” all the time, for her buzzkill tendencies. Would she ever want them to stop calling her that?
“No, I’m branded with that! It’s a point of pride now, to be the worst. No, that’s like a tattoo, I can’t.”
Last minute reprieves
“Emotional roller coaster” might be the best way to describe working on “Community.” Jacobs says she had hoped NBC might sign up for another season of the show because “we had come so close and cheated death so many times on NBC.” When the network finally passed, “A lot of people told me ‘Community is dead,’ you must move on, so, trying to be an emotionally healthy person, I moved on, and then at the very last minute, this deal came through,” says Jacobs.