NBC’s ‘Community’ fallout: Dan Harmon talks exit, being ‘liability’

For the first time really sine Dan Harmon was dismissed from “Community” following the end of season 3, the show’s creator finally has opened up a bit about his exit, and once again did his best to explain that this was something that really did not have anything to do with the voicemail scandal with Chevy Chase that played out in the press earlier this spring.

Speaking on G4’s “Attack of the Show,” Harmon was certainly self-deprecating in calling himself a “jerk,” and he also quipped that he actually was the one who gave NBC the idea to fire him since he joked about it happening all of the time. Really, the reason he saw his exit somewhat coming was because of the fact that the network runs a business first and foremost, and that making money would eventually outweigh being a critical darling:

“If 20 people call you a horse’s a–, you buy a saddle … I feel like I’m a good person and a professional, a very able leader of men. I also feel like I’m 25 … Maybe I am just a jerk. To people who work above me I am a liability that isn’t worth the benefit. It’s a low-rated show that’s not generating much revenue.”

Harmon did not address the rumors that his show frequently ran over-budget with some of its high-concept episodes, but he did say that he started thinking outside the box near the end of the first season — at that point, he thought as though the show was probably going to end up being canceled, and he really just settled for trying to get good reviews. Ironically, this move is what really allowed “Community” to develop the fandom that it now has. After all, we saw in this past season a tribute to “Law & Order,” a blanket fort war, and the Greendale 7 all trying to win Pierce Hawthorne’s estate via a video game. We would have never seen these ideas during the first half of season 1, which was when the show was trying to be more mainstream.

Harmon also had a few other interesting comments when it came to ratings — suggesting that some of the biggest mainstream shows require you to turn a certain part of your creative brain off, and also saying that Nielsen ratings are more now a tool to measure how many people are seeing advertisements versus how many people are actually watching the show. (He’s well aware that “Community” has one of the largest viewing audiences out there online, but this doesn’t help ad buyers for television.)

Season 4 of the comedy is set to premiere in October, even though Harmon will no longer be at the helm. He has a credit as a “consulting producer,” but by “consult” we don’t know if this means helping out on scripts or telling them want brand of gel to put in Jeff Winger’s hair.

Be sure to watch the full interview below — regardless of whether or not you think Harmon is a creative genius, pompous jerk, or a little bit of both, it provides great insight into the TV business and how showrunners often work to compromise with a network. Be sure to also check out some of our spoiler dish for “Community” season 4 over at this link!

Photo: NBC

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