Right before the credits roll on the last episode of Community’s sixth and final season run, the hashtag “#andamovie” is displayed on a blank screen. This is an acknowledgement from creator/showrunner Dan Harmon and the series’ writers that the beloved sitcom has almost fulfilled a long-running request from its passionate fanbase.
For “six seasons and a movie” or alternatively the hashtag “#sixseasonsandamovie” has been Community’s fans rallying cry for through its run and even beyond its latest (and seemingly final) cancellation after six seasons. In fact, #sixseasonsandamovie remains a popular hashtag across social media feeds today, over five years after the final episode premiered.
So where does the phrase “six seasons and a movie” come from? And how did it come to be the de facto chant for legions of Community fans? The answer lies in the show itself…and also on a hilariously ill-fated, little known 2011 NBC series. Allow us to explain.
The words “six seasons and a movie” were first uttered by Community character Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) in season 2 episode 21 “Paradigms of Human Memory.” In keeping with the show’s creative deconstruction of television tropes, this entry is a take on “clip show” episodes in which aging sitcoms replay the hits of episodes’ past to buy some time during the grueling network television production schedule. “Paradigms of Human Memory,” however, doesn’t feature clips from other Community episodes but rather features memories that the main characters have of the past two years when the cameras weren’t rolling on them.
One such memory involves Jeff Winger (Joel Mchale) experiencing severe agitation over Abed’s latest pop culture obsession. Abed, as he is wont to do, has become fixed on a new TV show. The one in question this time around is NBC’s superhero drama The Cape. Abed is playacting as the show’s lead character, a hero who uses a cape and the power of illusion to project super strength and fight crime. Abed is a bit clumsy as The Cape though and as he attempts to attack Jeff with his cape in the cafeteria, he instead knocks all the food off of Jeff’s tray.
“The show’s gonna last three weeks!” Jeff yells in anger.
“Six seasons and a movie!” Abed cries out as he runs away.
And just like that, Community fans had their calling card. If the pop culture master Abed Nadir says that the ideal run for a TV show is six seasons and a movie then the ideal run for a TV show is six seasons and a movie damn it.
Though viewers could be forgiven for thinking that the ridiculous-sounding The Cape was an invention of the show (after all Community conjured up other fake TV shows for Abed to love like “Cougarton Abbey” and “Inspector Spacetime”), The Cape was somehow a real NBC series. In the show, David Lyon starred as Vince Faraday, a Palm City police officer who is left for dead and rises again as crime-fighter The Cape. Eventual Community actor Keith David starred as circus ringleader and Faraday’s trainer Max Malini. James Frain starred as his arch nemesis Chess.
NBC previously enjoyed success in crafting its own comic book mythology in Heroes, and one could forgive them for trying again. In fact, it’s my official position that more networks should be bold in attempting to develop their own comic book-y superhero IP. The Cape, however, just didn’t cut it on any level. Abed was way off in his hope for six seasons and a movie. Jeff was a bit closer in his guess but didn’t give the show enough credit. It ended up lasting for 10 episodes (with one airing online) rather than three. In any case, “six seasons and a movie” ended up being its lasting contribution to pop culture.
Six seasons and a movie stuck to Community like glue because it was catchy and applicable – but also because fans had so many opportunities to use it. Partially due to Harmon’s difficult behavior behind the scenes and partially due to NBC’s incompetence, Community found itself on the bubble between renewal and cancellation frequently. The hashtag “sixseasonsandamovie” started popping up online in relation to a “Save Community” campaign shortly after the show’s second season concluded. Then the campaign and hashtag came up again in the middle of season 3 when NBC neglected to mention when the series would return from a winter hiatus. The hashtag persisted between seasons 3 and 4, during which Harmon was fired and new showrunners were brought in. Then the hashtag returned for the next season hiatus and when Harmon was eventually brought back. Finally, a sixth season was ordered for the doomed online streaming venture Yahoo Screens and Community finished the TV part of its six seasons and a movie obligation.
Still, we stand here years later with the “#andamovie” portion yet to be fulfilled. Harmon and the cast have occasionally expressed interest in doing so but as is often the case with good television shows, the talented folks involved found themselves quite busy with other ventures after it concluded. Ultimately, that might be ok as the enduring meme of “six seasons and a movie” itself may have been more impressive than an actual movie anyway.