I've seen arguments in the "Community" thread about season four being a dreaded watering-down of the material. Fans of the show are rightly concerned that the absence of showrunner Dan Harmon will damage the content. I get that, and I agree.
What I DON'T get are assertions that the numbers will be down because "Community" has lost its showrunner. This is a sort of internet myopia that never stops, even if it isn't ever justified. "Community" is a big show with new-media types who consume video games, internet content and DVD's, and so their viewers are nonetheless pretty plugged in. And the ratings are sure to drop because of the shift to the Friday Graveyard slot.
But a couple of million people watch "Community" every week. How many of them can name the original showrunner? How many of them will recognize Mr. Harmon's name? How many of them know anything about showrunners? Not many. Like other broadcast network shows, the bulk of "Community"'s viewership does not know and does not care about Dan Harmon. Many will see the move to Fridays and think, oh, I won't bother. The vocal internet voices who claim they won't watch this show without Harmon? A vocal, but tiny, portion of this show's audience.
I see this everywhere. A recent podcast debating if the public is aware of "Man Of Steel" villain Zod (they ain't). An audience for Kevin Smith's new Hulu show aware of Smith's aggressively unpleasant comments towards critics (ain't). Even box office discussions fall apart because of this. Obviously, people want to get a leg up on prognostications, but most moviegoers are only aware of a movie's impending release maybe two or three weeks before it comes out, via TV ads. Trailers are nice, but instantly forgotten, and few people would check out the latest hot teaser online if it weren't for that movie-loving guy at work who usually has few other compelling interests (and isn't always someone as erudite as yourself).
I hope this doesn't come off as combative, but this is such silly BS, and I see it all the time from usually smart people. I think there are a lot of great internet writers out there, and I cringe when they write pieces addressing "fanboys" and "naysayers" when the bulk of any mainstream movie or TV show's support comes from casual viewers who are not fanatical and who, by and large, enjoy most all the art they consume (most likely because of palettes that lack diversity, but still). The "core" audience for something completely mainstream is never going to be comment thread nerds from the AV Club, or Pitchfork, or even the Yahoo message boards.
Am I talking crazy here?