I love television, but it seems television doesn’t love me anymore. I was raised by TV single-mother often worked two jobs, and babysitters didn’t last long because I was a rotten bastard. Television was my father and it has been with me since birth. Of all the TV I have watched over my 34 years on this planet, I have had a lot of favorite shows, but recently one program made me declare it to be the greatest sitcom of all time. That show is NBC’s Community. The humor, the characters, the hidden visual gags, everything about it was smart and hip and “streets above” everything else on television. When it was in danger of being cancelled earlier this season I joined the online chorus championing its beauty and rallied to have it brought back. The Save Community effort was small but vocal, focused mainly on Tumblr, and Twitter, it got the word out enough to not only bring the show back but garner a fourth season. The rallying cry #sixseasonsandamovie even made its way onto the season finale in the form of an ominous Chuck Lorre-esque place card.
After a solid season of great episodes that turned the sitcom formula on its head by serializing it and not ignoring past events. Community brought a continuity to situation comedy that mirrored its nerdy love for comics that most of its fans shared. Each episode lead to the next, in a beautiful tapestry, that made this past Thursday triple bill all the more rewarding for fans. We went to sleep Thursday night content and peaceful. Only to be awoken from our dream, NBC had already announced that a fourth season was coming, despite an awful show killing move to Friday nights. Then at 7 PM Friday night they dropped the real bomb that will ultimately kill the show and guarantee that #sixseasonsandamovie never happens; they unceremoniously replaced the show’s creator and mastermind Dan Harmon, as show runner. Harmon who was at times even more vocal and out spoken than the actors on the show, was the brains and heart behind the wonderful characters we had all fallen in love with. While the amazing cast gave life to his words it was Harmon’s voice that we truly loved. He remained in constant contact with the rapid internet fan base which kept his creation alive. The show was filled with nods and winks to us, letting us know that the conversations we shared online mattered to him. He was notorious for his onset rewrites and demanding vision, his fights with actors, and his furious drinking. It was still shocking that he was dropped from something that was so uniquely his. After the news broke he spoke out again on his Tumblr page, leaving us this;
HEY, DID I MISS ANYTHING?
A few hours ago, I landed in Los Angeles, turned on my phone, and confirmed what you already know. Sony Pictures Television is replacing me as showrunner on Community, with two seasoned fellows that I’m sure are quite nice – actually, I have it on good authority they’re quite nice, because they once created a show and cast my good friend Jeff Davis on it, so how bad can they be.
Why’d Sony want me gone? I can’t answer that because I’ve been in as much contact with them as you have. They literally haven’t called me since the season four pickup, so their reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business. Community is their property, I only own ten percent of it, and I kind of don’t want to hear what their complaints are because I’m sure it would hurt my feelings even more now that I’d be listening for free.
I do want to correct a couple points of spin, now that I’m free to do so:
The important one is this quote from Bob Greenblatt in which he says he’s sure I’m going to be involved somehow, something like that. That’s a misquote. I think he meant to say he’s sure cookies are yummy, because he’s never called me once in the entire duration of his employment at NBC. He didn’t call me to say he was starting to work there, he didn’t call me to say I was no longer working there and he definitely didn’t call to ask if I was going to be involved. I’m not saying it’s wrong for him to have bigger fish to fry, I’m just saying, NBC is not a credible source of All News Dan Harmon.
You may have read that I am technically “signed on,” by default, to be an executive consulting something or other – which is a relatively standard protective clause for a creator in my position. Guys like me can’t actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet, we’re still allowed to have a title on the things we create and “help out,” like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff.
However, if I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn’t have any power there. Nobody would have to do anything I said, ever. I would be “offering” thoughts on other people’s scripts, not allowed to rewrite them, not allowed to ask anyone else to rewrite them, not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay, etc. It’s….not really the way the previous episodes got done. I was what you might call a….hands on producer. Are my….periods giving this enough….pointedness? I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of Community without me, but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying “it has to be like this or I quit” roughly 8 times a day.
The same contract also gives me the same salary and title if I spend all day masturbating and playing Prototype 2. And before you ask yourself what you would do in my situation: buy Prototype 2. It’s fucking great.
Because Prototype 2 is great, and because nobody called me, and then started hiring people to run the show, I had my assistant start packing up my office days ago. I’m sorry. I’m not saying seasons 1, 2 and 3 were my definition of perfect television, I’m just saying that whatever they’re going to do for season 4, they’re aiming to do without my help. So do not believe anyone that tells you on Monday that I quit or diminished my role so I could spend more time with my loved ones, or that I negotiated and we couldn’t come to an agreement, etc. It couldn’t be less true because, just to make this clear, literally nobody called me. Also don’t believe anyone that says I have sex with animals. And if there’s a photo of me doing it with an animal – I’m not saying one exists, I’m just saying, if one surfaces – it’s a fake. Look at the shadow. Why would it be in front of the giraffe if the sun is behind the jeep?
Where was I? Oh yeah. I’m not running Community for season 4. They replaced me. Them’s the facts.
When I was a kid, sometimes I’d run home to Mommy with a bloody nose and say, “Mom, my friends beat me up,” and my Mom would say “well then they’re not worth having as friends, are they?” At the time, I figured she was just trying to put a postive spin on having birthed an unpopular pussy. But this is, after all, the same lady that bought me my first typewriter. Then later, a Commodore 64. And later, a 300 baud modem for it. Through which I met new friends that did like me much, much more.
I’m 39, now. The friends my Mom warned me about are bigger now, and older, bloodying my nose with old world numbers, and old world tactics, like, oh, I don’t know, sending out press releases to TV Guide at 7pm on a Friday.
But my Commodore 64 is mobile now, like yours, and the modems are invisible, and the internet is the air all around us. And the good friends, the real friends, are finding each other, and connecting with each other, and my Mom is turning out to be more right than ever.
Ah, shit, I still haven’t called my fucking Mom.
Mom, Happy Mother’s Day. I got fired.
Yes, Mom. AGAIN.
What this means for the future of the show is that it will never be the same. Perhaps the new show runners can bring the show into the classic sitcom mold that will garner more mainstream viewers and keep it alive. More than likely they will kill the quirky vision that Dan Harmon founded and alienate its hardcore fan base. They will destroy all that we love and make Community nothing more than an average show with sub-par humor no one can laugh at. With the show killing timeslot, this will be the death knell, which ends one of the smartest, greatest, most adventurous shows on television. No more episodes based on 16 bit Nintendo games, no more continuous story threads that evoke a lifelong love of television tropes, this my friends is the end. I wish I was in L.A. to visit Harmontown which is held once a month at the Nerdist Theater in the back of Meltdown Comics. I highly recommend a visit if you’re nearby I’m sure the next one will be memorable.