Both Deadline and Vulture are reporting that Sony Pictures Television has entered into “conversations” with streaming service Hulu about one more, 13-episode season of Community, presumably to debut sometime in the fall or winter of the next TV season. As Vulture notes, “conversations” are very different from “negotiations,” which would imply a deal is likely to close. But at the very least, somebody is talking to somebody about bringing the show back. The chief advantage to Hulu resurrecting the show right now is that it would still have the actors under contract for less money than it would cost to hire them in a few years (most likely). The chief disadvantage is that a series in its sixth season is likely going to be quite expensive for a streaming service that almost certainly has a lower operational budget than its two main competitors (Netflix and Amazon) and pretty much every TV network. Also, as A.V. Club contributor Myles McNutt notes, these sorts of reports are often floated in the press as a kind of negotiating tactic. They sometimes result in the unlikely resurrection of The Killing or Breaking In, and they sometimes result in nobody wanting Pan Am, the poor thing. (For another example, recall the frequent rumors from last year that USA was going to resurrect Happy Endings, until that, uh, didn’t happen.)
There are a number of reasons why Hulu would want to resurrect the show, but most of them boil down to the instant shot of credibility the network’s original programming would get from providing another season of a beloved yet canceled cult comedy. Netflix’s arrival on the scene was marked by how it outbid several other outlets for House Of Cards, but it was solidified by the fact that it resurrected Arrested Development, even if neither project has been as critically acclaimed as Orange Is The New Black. Similarly, every time it seems like Hannibal might be canceled, the rumor mill heats up suggesting that Amazon would love the series, as it would give the service a ready-made critical success. Earned credibility lasts longer than purchased credibility, but it’s not like the latter doesn’t exist. On the other hand, as we outlined here, Hulu is pretty much the only place where Community could be resurrected, and it’s not quite clear how much the service would want to spend—or could spend—on acquiring the series, when it could be spending that money on its own development slate.
So don’t celebrate just yet, but at the very least somebody at Sony has talked with somebody at Hulu about the possibility of Community coming back, even if it was just in the form of a note reading, “DO YOU WANT TO RESURRECT OUR SHOW, CHECK YES OR NO” passed to the site while mean old Mr. Greenblatt had his back turned.