That above photo comes courtesy of Charley Koontz, who plays the spectacular Fat Neil in “Community.” He was on set filming “one of his favorite episodes” when he snapped the above picture and posted it on Facebook. I don’t know who is directly responsible for the chalkboard message, but the pop-culture allusion and the bitterness suggests Dan Harmon, who — when he’s not writing episodes of the most brilliant show on network television — can typically be found drunk-tweeting animus toward the NBC from a bubble bath or wallowing in self-pity. That’s what overly-sensitive, temperamental geniuses do. Dan Harmon is the comedy-show equivalent of “Sons of Anarchy’s” Kurt Sutter.
But here’s some real talk, some truth juice, some brutal honesty: It’s not NBC’s fault, nor is it the fault of Nielsen Ratings. Yes, Nielsen boxes are antiquated, and an absolutely ridiculous indicator of what people — especially the prized 18-49 year old demographic — actually watch. In fact, the networks are even beginning to realize that. They are making the slow transition to Rentrak’s set-top boxes. But you could combine all the Hulu, Netflix, illegal downloads, NBC.com, and DVR viewers of “Community” and it still wouldn’t amount to more than six, maybe seven million viewers. “Community” is not a network show; it doesn’t belong on NBC. Hell, it’s too good for NBC. It’s hilarious, ambitious, and experimental — three things that are rarely associated with the networks. The only reason it’s managed to last as long as it has is because NBC doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground, and the small but devoted viewership of “Community” and “Chuck” (who buy DVDs) makes those shows almost as profitable as the network’s flagship show, “The Biggest Loser.”
Indeed, Harmon (and we) should be thankful that NBC is as dysfunctional and ratings-starved as it is, because “Community” is only popular in a very small universe. Alison Brie is not adorning the covers of supermarket tabloids, Joel McHale is probably still better known for “The Soup,” and two-thirds of America probably doesn’t even know that Chevy Chase is still alive. The reason that “Community” is even as popular as it is in a very small universe is because of websites like this one, Uproxx, Pajiba, The AV Club, and Hitfix won’t stop talking about it. Alison Brie GIFs aren’t exactly burning up Yahoo News, nor are they splashed across HuffPo three times a week. Hell, three horny dudes on Tumblr are probably responsible for 80 percent of all of them (thank you, horny dudes!).
So, what’s the point? The point is this: F**k the Nielsen ratings. Fat Neil is awesome. And thank Tebow there are just enough devoted, hard-core, boob-obsessed appreciators of great goddamn comedy on a site like this to keep “Community” running as long as it has and more or less ensure that it will come back.
Oh, and here’s another shot from Koontz’s Facebook page, presumably from the “Community” dressing room.
(Huge Hat Tip to Michael C., a college buddy of Fat Neil, who alerted us to the photos)