This has been a transitional season for NBC’s comedy department, with the network seemingly abandoning developing hip young shows like Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, and Community to focus on more traditional, broadly-appealing sitcoms like Go On and The New Normal (with much better results, ratings-wise). NBC Entertainment Jennifer Salke spoke to TV Guide today about the changes to the network’s comedy strategy:
“We just want a different brand. We don’t want a narrow brand in the sense of some of those shows that we inherited here, which we’re huge fans of, [but] have a very narrow audience… It would be easy if we hated those shows, but we actually love those shows… The people attached to these shows are big parts of our business moving forward. We’re also not arrogant to think we have the answers, so let’s get rid of all that stuff and put in a bunch of other stuff. We have to do this piece by piece, and try to protect those shows as much as we can in the process.”
That may not sound like great news for Parks and Rec and Community fans. Both shows face an uncertain future at the Peacock Network, whereas The Office and 30 Rock wind down in the spring. At least Jennifer Salke seems to be patient with these low-rated but beloved shows. On the topic of The Farm, the canceled Dwight Schrute Office spin-off, Salke explained, “We love Rainn. But The Farm felt like a step towards an even narrower version of what those Thursday night comedies have been for us. A very specific audience would be checking that show out, and that feels too narrow for what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to do big, breakout ideas that are incredibly unique, that invite more than just a few people into the tent.” It should be interesting to see how ratings for the rest of this season play out for NBC’s comedies, as they’ll dictate which direction the network takes for next year, whether it be a more Matthew Perry-y direction or a more Dan Harmon-y direction.