“Community” is one of the best shows on television right now. There has never really been a show like it, before or since. And that unique voice is the product of the cleverly demented mind of its creator, Dan Harmon. Harmon has been able to re-contextualize the tropes of sitcoms and put them through a filter of pop-culture knowledge for three seasons now, each more ambitious than the last. Unfortunately, that unique voice has been silenced, since a few weeks ago Dan Harmon was fired from the show.
Many insiders claim that the main reason Harmon was nixed was to make the show more “accessible” to mainstream audiences. However, that weirdness and lack of “accessibility” is exactly what makes the show what it is. Harmon has always tried to tell oddball tales with a sense of story and pathos; it’s that same loving care for the absurd and wacky that makes “Community” stand out.
However, there are other reasons cited for Harmon’s firing, including his demanding and difficult personality. There are horror stories of writers leaving on a regular basis, due to multiple 24-hour writing sessions. There has also been the very public feud between Harmon and Chevy Chase, one the show’s stars, culminating in a leaked phone conversation of Chase chastising Harmon for his behavior and conduct. It’s also been reported that he continually goes behind schedule and over-budget for high concept episodes, like an action-packed paintball episode or an episode shot entirely in Rankin Bass-esque stop-motion animation.
No matter what, it won’t be the same show. Those expensive concept episodes and its oddball sensibility are “Community,” and without that it’s just a show about a group of eccentric people. And while I love the characters enough to continue watching, I’ll always think about what Harmon would have done with the new season and wonder, “What if?”
The only bright side is that the last episode of Dan Harmon’s run, “Introduction to Finality,” is a sweet swan song to his reign, and if “Community” starts sucking ala post-Steve Carrell “The Office,” then I can just pretend that episode was the ending.