Community has had an incredibly hard time staying on the air as it is, going through the firing and then rehiring of creator Dan Harmon, all surrounding a fourth season that most fans, including Harmon himself, weren't all that wild about. The fact that it's returning for a fifth season seems almost miraculous, and is probably better evidence of just how few shows NBC has in their lineup than any faith that Community will suddenly become a hit.
With Chevy Chase completely off the show fans have already been adjusting to new dynamics within the study group, and now another familiar face will be missing more than half the time next season. Vulture reports that Donal Glover has worked out a deal with the show's producers that will have him appearing in just five of the upcoming season's thirteen episodes. He's not storming away out of anger the way Chase was-- Glover is hoping to focus more on on his music, performing as Childish Gambino. He's already the rare comedic actor who manages to have a completely legitimate music career, so you can't exactly blame him for wanting to keep that ball rolling.
At the same time… couldn't he have just waited a few more months? Even the most optimistic fans assume this is Community's last season, and it's not like Glover couldn't have continued making music while planning a big tour for next summer once the show has wrapped. And Community relies more than many other comedies on the strength of its ensemble, putting the entire cast in the study group room and allowing them to play off each other. How can you even have Abed without Troy to back him up? How do you deal with the challenges that the end of Season 4 set up-- namely, having Jeff graduate-- without one of the main characters around to help out?
Community has always managed to work its way around problems way bigger than this one, so it's not like we don't have faith. This isn't a darkest timeline-style stab in the gut… but it does seem to be one more challenge for Community to overcome in what's probably its last go-round on our TV screens.
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