Late Friday night, Vulture reported that Sony Television (the company that produces Community) had hired David Guarascio and Moses Port (previously of Happy Endings) as the new showrunners of Community, leaving Dan Harmon with a diminished role. Their justification was partially about creative differences (Sony and NBC wanted Community to at least try to appeal to more people) and partially about what it was like working with Harmon. A person close to the show explained, “Dan is brilliant at ideas, but he’s terrible at [management].” Specifically, Harmon is given a lot of the blame for much of Community’s writing and production staff turnover. The flipside of course is that Harmon was the mad genius responsible for the show’s ambition, tone, and je ne sais quoi.
Sony’s hope was to have Harmon return as a writer and/or consulting producer; however, after Harmon posted his response on Saturday, it was pretty clear that that wasn’t going to happen. Harmon explained that Sony hasn’t spoken to him since the season 4 pick-up last week and, partly because of that slighting, he has no intention to return to the show with a smaller role. This excerpt gets to the heart of it:
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.
Dan Harmon is such a large part of what makes Community what it is so it’s a shame and it sucks and it was very much just a business decision for Sony and NBC.