“Community” creator Dan Harmon’s startling openness with his fans on Twitter, Tumblr and via his podcast/live show Harmontown is one of his most endearing and problematic qualities. It’s allowed those who like his work a closeness and an insight into his process and mindset that’s rare, and it’s gotten him into trouble more than once when something he shared in an essentially public forum the kind of opinions usually only muttered between friends. Harmon was officially reinstated as showrunner of “Community” earlier this month, which meant that he had to actually watch the 13 episodes that make up season four, when he was fired and replaced by David Guarascio and Moses Port. Harmon shared his thoughts on the season on Harmontown, and while he admitted Guarascio, Port and company tried their best, he was not gentle with regard to how he felt about the results:
I guess I already knew this, but apparently, I’m quite a genius. I think I feel pretty comfortable expressing any kind of “Eh, not my cup of tea” about it because — this has been expressed a thousand times over — it’s obviously not somebody doing what they do and trying very hard to make people happy. It is very much like an impression, and an unflattering one. It’s just 13 episodes of “Oh, I’m Dan Harmon! Durpy, durpy, dur! ‘Die Hard’! Dur!” I feel like I’m going back to work tomorrow morning, and I just feel like, “Do I talk like that?” Man, watching those characters without me there is just not fuckin’ cool, man. It’s like flipping through Instagrams and watching your girlfriend just blow a million [other guys].
Harmon walked this back on Twitter, saying “I feel bad if I made anyone feel bad with my comments in harmontown. It’s a dirty, personal comedy podcast, not charismatic for quoting,” then adding “I like making stuff that pleases people, I like being honest about my feelings but I hate hurting other people, especially ‘Community’ fans.” But his comments, and a later part in the podcast in which he sidestepped his way into an ongoing internet discussion/battle by jokingly comparing season four to “watching your family get raped on a beach,” led to a longer apology Harmon posted on his Tumblr this morning in which he issued mea culpas to the fans, to everyone who works on the show, to the season four writers, anyone offended by rape jokes and so on. A sample:
I am first and foremost sorry to ‘Community’ fans that got paid nothing to stick by ‘Community’ and get us to a fifth season only to hear the incoming showrunner say some stuff that felt very un-‘Community.’ Even if my goal had been to hurt someone, it would never have been you. What I said was disrespectful to your love for this show, love that I sometimes erroneously equate with validation of me as a person. I am unwittingly and unfortunately infamous for the amount I care about your opinion. I often say that I write in an attempt to “make people like me.” I’m realizing what makes me unlikable is that I haven’t made the leap from “caring what people think about me” to “caring about people.” And let’s face it, if I’m doing this at 40 how cool am I going to get before I die.
But I do know, every minute of every day, that I owe you folks what I consider to be my life and guarantee you that every time I’ve pissed you off it’s been on accident. And to keep from hurting you, I’m going to try thinking about you before saying things into microphones. I’m usually okay at it when I’m talking to actual press, because there’s a big visual reminder in the form of a cube on a mic or monkey in a diaper on the table. But when you’re listening to Harmontown, or, worse yet, reading transcripts from Harmontown, you’re catching me in unforgivably human moments. Obviously the solution is to stop talking about my job in my podcast until production is safely complete. That will protect the show you love, and your love of it, from the creator with the Mouth from PR Hell. I will do this. But more importantly, I am sorry.
And once again, Harmon’s unfiltered qualities lead him to offputting lows and redemptive confessional highs — and, despite the harshness of what he said about the show when he wasn’t there to run it, it’s always refreshing to hear someone in the industry actually openly say what’s on their mind, as ill-advised as it might be. But we’ll give the last word to Megan Ganz, who was a writer for “Community” seasons two, three and four before leaving to join “Modern Family.”
What’s weird is that we tried to do a beach rape episode but Sony wouldn’t pay for exteriors.
— Megan Ganz (@meganganz) June 18, 2013