Last week, former Community writer Megan Ganz took to Twitter to call out Dan Harmon for what she found to be hypocritical behavior, given the sexist treatment Ganz received from Harmon while he worked as her boss on the NBC sitcom. “It took me years to believe in my talents again, to trust a boss when he complimented me and not cringe when he asked for my number. I was afraid to be enthusiastic, knowing it might be turned against me later,” Ganz said at the time in a thread of tweets prompting Harmon to acknowledge his past behavior. While Harmon did respond to Ganz’s tweets – saying he was “filled with regret” and wished there were a way to “fix it” – it wasn’t until the latest episode of his podcast Harmontown dropped that Harmon not only ran through all of the ugly details of what he did to Ganz but delivered an apology that Ganz has since publicly accepted.
Listen to the full episode here (Harmon’s apology starts around 18:40), or read a full transcription of the moment below, followed by Ganz’s response:
The most important advice I’ve gotten is from women I respect that do what I do that are respected and that spoke to me privately and said “You know, if you’re true to your word and you are sincere about how you want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, please talk about how you’ve been part of the problem. That’s truly the most helpful thing you can do.” Please appreciate, if you’re listening to me, that the tightrope I have to walk here is I want to make this a normal part of the process, because it should be healthy and easy and graceful. It should be a thing that can be done and doesn’t have to create civil war and hysteria, that doesn’t make people get re-victimized and attacked. You’re not doing me any favors at all – you’re only hurting everybody, especially me – if this topic causes you to attack anybody involved. You may think it’s in my defense, you may think it’s in defense of fairness – I ask you to think about what you think “fair” is. That’s enough disclaiming. I have really really had to think about this and decided I need to talk about it … In 2000-whatever-whatever – I can’t remember, 2009, 2006, 2000-something-something – I had the privilege of running a network sitcom and I was attracted to a employee. I really wanna be careful about that language. I think a huge part of the problem is a culture of feeling things that you think are unique and significant because they’re happening to you, and saying things like “I had feelings for” and “I fell for” and all these things. I mean, the most clinical way I can put it in fessing up to my crimes is that I was attracted to a writer that I had power over because I was a showrunner, and I knew enough to know these feelings were bad news. That was easy enough to know. I knew that they ran the risk of undercutting people’s faith in my judgment, her faith in her talent, the other writers’ respect for me, the entire production, the audience. I knew that I wasn’t doing anybody any favors by feeling these things. And so I did the cowardly easiest laziest thing you could do with feelings like that and I didn’t deal with them, and in not dealing with them, I made everybody else deal with them – especially her. Flirty, creepy, everything other than overt enough to constitute betraying your live-in girlfriend to whom you’re going home every night, who is actually smart enough and respectful enough to ask you, “Do you have feelings for that young writer that you’re talking about, that you’re paying all this attention to?” And saying to her, “No,” because the trick is, if you lie to yourself you can lie to everybody, it’s really easy. And so that’s what I continued to do – telling myself and anybody that threatened to confront me with it that if you thought what I was doing was creepy or flirty or unprofessional, then it’s because you were the sexist. You were jealous, I was supporting this person, I’m a mentor, I’m a feminist. It’s your problem, not mine. You’re the one that actually is seeing things through that lens. And so I let myself keep doing it. And it’s not as if this person didn’t repeatedly communicate to me the idea that what I was doing was divesting her of a recourse to integrity. I just didn’t hear it, because it didn’t profit me to hear it, and this was after all happening to me, right? And so, after a season of playing it that way, I broke up with my girlfriend, who I had lied to the whole time, while lying to myself. [I] lied to her about why I was breaking up with her because I thought that would make having inappropriate feelings for a coworker appropriate if I wasn’t involved. I want you to be the one to examine this and every step of the way decide for yourself where I’m making mistakes. I don’t want to explain to you what I’ve learned. I want you to look at this, and I want it to sound relatively unremarkable to you because that’s the danger. I broke up with my girlfriend, then I went right full-steam into creeping on my employee now it was even less inappropriate after all. Now I wasn’t in danger of being a bad person. And then after that season, I got overt about my feelings after it was wrapped and said “I love you,” and she said the same thing she’d been saying the entire time, in one language or another: “Please, don’t you understand that focusing on me like this, liking me like this, preferring me like this, I can’t say no to it, and when you do it, it makes me unable to know whether I’m good at my job?” And because I finally got to the point where I said to her, “Oh, I love you” – because that’s what I thought it was when you target somebody for two years – and it was therefore rejected that way, I was humiliated, and so I continued to do the cowardly thing and continued to do the selfish thing. Now I wanted to teach her a lesson. I wanted to show her that if she didn’t like being liked in that way, then oh boy, she should get over herself. After all, if you’re just gonna be a writer, this is how “just writers” get treated. And that was probably the darkest of it all. I’m gonna assume that when she tweets about it and refers to trauma that that’s probably it, because I drank, I took pills, I crushed on her and resented her for not reciprocating it. And the entire time, I was the one writing her paychecks and in control of whether she stayed or went and whether she felt good about herself or not, and said horrible things, just treated her cruelly, pointedly. Things that I would never ever ever have done if she had been male and if I had never had those feelings for her. And I lied to myself the entire time about it, and I lost my job, I ruined my show, I betrayed the audience, I destroyed everything, and I damaged her internal compass. And I moved on. And I never did it before, and I will never do it again, but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had any respect for women on a fundamental level. I was thinking about them as different creatures, I was thinking about the ones that I liked as having some special role in my life, and I did it all by not thinking about it. So I just wanna say, in addition to obviously being sorry – but that’s really not the important thing – I wanna say I did it by not thinking about it, and I got away with it by not thinking about it. And if she hadn’t mentioned something on Twitter, I would’ve continued to not have to think about it, although I did walk around with my stomach in knots about it. But I wouldn’t have had to talk about it. And the last and most important thing I can say is just: Think about it. No matter who you are at work, no matter where you’re working, no matter what field you’re in, no matter what position you have over or under or side-by-side with somebody, just think about it. Because if you don’t think about it, you’re gonna get away with not thinking about it, and you can cause a lot of damage that is technically legal and hurts everybody. And I think that we’re living in a good time right now, because we’re not gonna get away with it anymore. And if we can make it a normal part of our culture that we think about it and possibly talk about it, then maybe we can get to a better place where that stuff doesn’t happen. So that’s it. Please don’t hurt her. Please don’t make this worse on anybody but me, and let’s move on. I’m bad at ending things.