When news broke last weekend about Whitney’s untimely passing, I had a simultaneously morbid and uplifting thought: “After losing the star and namesake of one of its primetime sitcoms, will NBC bring back new episodes of “Community?”
Alas, as you no doubt know, it was Whitney Houston who died…not Whitney Cummings. And while I have nothing against the comedienne and alleged TV star (besides that damned laugh track), Cummings’ self-titled show is part of the logjam of quality television that compelled the Peacock Network to put its edgiest, most critically acclaimed and social media revered property on indefinite hiatus.
What’s that? NBC has pathetically bad ratings? No one watches *any* of its scripted programming? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
With rabid fans salivating about the fate of their favorite pop-culture infused show, I was certain that NBC would do the right thing and find “Community” a timeslot. Yet, as the weeks and months have passed since the initial hiatus announcement, the sitcom’s prospects seem more and more dire.
And so, if “Community” truly has fired its final paintball gun, we must think about those who will suffer the most – the actors. Which of the seven key players has the career stamina to fight on and continue shining in the bedazzled limelight of the business they call show? And which are destined to be nostalgic answers on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card?
In descending order (from “guaranteed success no matter what” to “you may want to get that GED after all,” I present the cast of “Community” and their likelihood of future Hollywood employment:
7. Joel McHale – quite simply, the dude is a star. Anyone who watched “The Soup” knew years ago that McHale is a happy-fun-time bloke who oozes charisma. Good looking without being threatening, he also has a quick wit and awesome hair. No, he’s not George Clooney, Brad Pitt or yours truly, but McHale will have little trouble finding work for the foreseeable future.
6. Alison Brie – at first blush, Brie doesn’t look like much of a Hollywood heavyweight. But her roles in not one, but two adored shows (insert inevitable “Mad Men” reference here) have proven that (insert inevitable “more than a pretty face” cliche). She has taken Annie Edison from the shy, mentally unstable girl of Season One to a woman with soul, depth and grown-up charm. There aren’t many actresses who can so artfully walk the line between sweet and sexy…and that’s why Brie will be working consistently for years (you know, until she turns 30. Then, it’s plastic surgery or Tuesday night book club with Sherry Stringfield).
5. Chevy Chase – the cast’s only star when “Community” debuted, Chase’s fame derives from work performed before most of the sitcom’s fan base was ever born. Maybe he’s often overrated as a comedic lead, but as a supporting player, he’s top notch. Besides, as long as those “Caddyshack” residuals keep rolling in, Chase can afford to choose only the plumpest of roles. Hopefully, that means he’ll finally commit to the long-awaited sequel to “Cops and Robbersons.”
4. Donald Glover – initially written as a one-dimensional ex-jock, Glover’s Troy Barnes has transformed beyond the lovable simpleton with a heart of gold. No less of a pop culture authority than Rolling Stone has declared Glover to be a triple threat, and hey – my friend’s older brother used to read that magazine so it *has* to be true! Plus, perhaps more than any of his cast-mates, Glover has embraced the meta appeal of “Community” through various social media star turns (not to be confused with Star Burns).
3. Danny Pudi – TYPECAST ALERT! TYPECAST ALERT! Pudi plays a *very* specific character – he’s got brown skin and a disability (Abed has Asperger’s, right?). Such a mix can often be the recipe for one-hit wonderism, but Pudi has enough ethnic ambiguity (he can play characters from the Indian subcontinent AND those from the Middle East!) that he should be able to find post-“Community” work. Plus, he’s so damn likeable that Pudi will find an audience…even if it’s not as wide as the ones enjoyed by some of his peers.
2. Yvette Nicole Brown – once you’ve seen one sassy black woman in Hollywood, it’s likely that you’ve seen them all. But Brown isn’t just a stereotype…did I mention she can sing too? What’s that? You’d be surprised if the sassy black woman couldn’t sing? Now who’s being racist? The truth is that while Brown hasn’t shown much acting depth on “Community,” she did epically dress up as a Pulp Fiction’d Samuel L. Jackson…and that counts for something in my book.
1. Gillian Jacobs – shockingly, the “Community” cast member with the lowest career upside is the pretty blonde girl. It’s not that Jacobs in untalented, but unless a future script calls for a “slightly younger Elizabeth Shue type,” she has no discernable talent to set her apart from thousands of other actresses in Hollywood. That means if you’re a fan of Gillian Jacobs AND Cinemax After Dark, 2018 will be a VERY good year for you.
Sorry, Britta, but you really are the worst.
Any social media expert/ninja/guru worth his or her salt will tell you that engagement is the key to getting results out of online activities. And yet, at the end of every work week, the Twitterati collectively engage in one of the least personalized and most automated of interweb interactions.
I’m talking about #FollowFriday. And I want out.
Last Friday, as my stream was flooded with #FF messages, I tweeted out a thought:
Honest question: does anyone ever follow people recommended in #FF tweets? It's devolved into a silly game of quid pro quo, right?—
Matthew Smith (@MatthewSm1th) February 03, 2012
Millions of people are tagged each week in #FF posts. That sounds like a nice idea, but most of the Tweets are really just a list of names without context. If I want to know who you’re following, I’ll visit your profile page. I believe that – for many of these users – #FF is a ruse by which they fish for reciprocation; after all, it’s impolite to not return a compliment (or at least say thank you). #FollowFriday – once a way to learn about new users on an emerging social media platform – has devolved into a system in which people solicit ReTweets and mentions without generating useful content.
Of course, not every #FF is a selfish act masquerading as benevolence. My friend, Jen Price, tweeted at me that she enjoys the practice. “When #FF is done well, with a reason for following, I find new people to follow. I appreciate the introductions to new folks.”
Jen is right…when people share details and make introductions, #FollowFriday can be a valuable tool. It’s just that 99% of #FF messages ignore that basic common sense. I’ve seen some people use the hashtag #WhyIFollow, while including a bit about the person. Ephraim Gopin has been known to use the hashtag #YFF (the Y is for WHY) and do the same thing. Aren’t these tactics more helpful?
Even after acknowledging the small numbers of folks who do it “right,” the sheer majority of bad #FF Tweets has pushed me to the breaking point. I appreciate each and every time I’m mentioned in someone’s #FollowFriday tweet, but please know that I will never again publicly thank you or RT your mention. It’s not that I don’t care…it’s not even that I don’t think you legitimately enjoy the content I generate. It’s just that I think there’s a more genuine way to point your audience in my direction, especially if you think my Tweets, blog posts and/or ideas would interest them.
Groucho Marx once famously said that he would never be part of any club that would have him as a member. The #FF Brigade is actively evangelical and would accept anyone with its ranks…isn’t that reason enough to be wary?
What do YOU think? Do you participate in #FollowFriday? Do you RT your #FF mentions? Why or why not?