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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: An interview with the dean of COMMUNITY

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: An interview with the dean of COMMUNITY

Dan Harmon, the hit sitcom’s creator, talks to Salon about comedy, agony, paintball, The Simpsons and Glee

By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play Contributor

NBC’s Community (Thursdays, 8 p.m./7 Central) is one of the most deceptively light shows on network television — a seeming spoof of pop culture and pop obsessives that’s as densely imagined as the world of The Simpsons, and that has a lot more on its mind than movie and TV quotes and self-referential devices.

Last week I interviewed the show’s creator, Dan Harmon. Our wide-ranging conversation covered many of the expected areas: his sense of humor, his influences, behind-the-scenes production anecdotes, and hints of episodes to come. But it also delved into more elusive and heady issues: the role of pain and humiliation in comedy; the question of how self-referential a show can get without destroying our ability to sympathize with its characters; and the influence of The Simpsons and — yes, really — Gilligan’s Island on Community. It’s also the only interview I’ve ever done with a TV showrunner who casually dropped the word “vestigial.”

Now that we’ve waded into the show’s third season, I wanted to ask you what sort of reaction Season 2 got from the show’s fans. This series is closely watched and obsessively scrutinized.

I guess my perspective on fan reaction is distorted because I don’t scour the Internet for objective appraisals of the show. I pretty much sit on Twitter, which is about 99 percent positive emotional energy slung at you by fans in 140-character bursts. That’s why it feels secure to me, because it balances my self-loathing and fear. I can kind of work in a vacuum. To me the reaction to the second season is about the same as [Season 1], which is people saying “It’s great,” mainly, and one guy per month going, “You’re fat!” and “Your show is stupid!”

If you were asked, “How much of a spoof is this show, or how serious is it?” would you even have an answer?

You can read the rest of Matt’s interview with Dan Harmon here at Salon.

A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for and the founder of Press Play.

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