After Community ended its third season last May, it was widely assumed it would be the show’s last. Surprisingly, though, the show was renewed for a shortened fourth season over the summer. But not long after the news was announced, the show’s creator and mastermind Dan Harmon was fired unceremoniously. The good feelings brought on by the renewal were quickly squashed by the inevitable downward spiral the showrunner change would bring, leading many to think Community season four would become the type of sitcom the show mocks. And while I was originally part of the crowd that couldn’t believe NBC would fire Harmon, I’ve begun to change my ways. Not only that, I also think Community season four will be perfectly fine with Harmon gone.
Community has always fought battles with forces inside and out – Chevy Chase and NBC, respectively. Fans of the show, myself included, were always quick to jump on Chase for his frequent temper tantrums and hostility towards the show, yet that’s exactly the same thing Harmon did while he was there. Harmon may have been a creative genius that took the show in brilliant directions for its second season, but he was also the same guy who purposely made season three as inaccessible as possible just to spite the network that was always breathing down his neck. Sometimes that paid off well, but quite a bit of season three was sloppy and convoluted. For a guy that obviously cared about the show as much as he did, purposely sabotaging your show just to give the network a “screw you” doesn’t show all that much care towards your insanely loyal audience. Sure “sabotage” is a strong word, and he still managed to tell the stories he wanted to tell, but it’s ridiculous to say that Community wouldn’t have had a better season had Harmon focused on the fans instead of a grudge match.
That’s also why it makes perfect sense that he was fired. Harmon admits that he did a very poor job of communicating with the network, and even if they should have left the show alone, since Harmon really cared for what he was doing, he needed to try his hardest to keep it on the air. Sure, NBC is a crazy network that will randomly fire a show like it was flicking a Cheerio off its shirt, but you have a far better chance of keeping your job and your show on the air if you’ll actually talk to them. But to be fair, I’m speaking on most of this without having actually been there. Harmon could have desperately tried to communicate with the network, and most of this could be on NBC, but from what is widely accessible this doesn’t seem to be the case.
So let’s get down to brass tacks – do I think that without Harmon the show will be awful? No. Do I think that without Harmon the show will be great? Possibly. Do I think that without Harmon the show will be a step above regular sitcoms while not reaching the greatness its second season showed it could? Definitely. But keep in mind that’s exactly how season three was while Harmon was in charge. Many people have obsessed over Harmon’s departure so much they’ve forgotten about all the complaints thrown at the last season he was in charge of.
The reason why I think the show will carry on is despite Harmon’s rule, many people go into the production of a show. The cast of Community gets the characters and could elevate any subpar material they’re given. And even though the show lost some writers and directors with Harmon, they’ve kept Andy Bobrow (writer of “Pillows & Blankets”), Megan Ganz (writer of “Basic Lupine Urology”), Tristram Shapeero (director of most of season three), and plenty of other people who truly care for the show and its well being. Heck, they’re even losing Chevy for a few episodes this season, and that is definitely not a bad thing.
Yes, the show could come back and be terrible and I could be wrong about all of this. But it will more than likely come back and be really good. The biggest obstacle this season has to overcome is the fans that will have to choose whether or not they can put aside their grudge for the network and watch. For most of this I’ve neglected to mention NBC, but make no mistake – they’re a bunch of douches. They’ve pushed the show back almost half a year so that their seasonal episodes will be airing all over the place, and frequently kicked the show when it is down. But they’ve also renewed the show for a fourth (and if the chairman of the network is any indication, a possible fifth) season. For now, fellow Community fans, it’s not time to worry. It’s time to cheer on that, despite the many setbacks, we’re getting another season of the show we love. I’ll be reviewing the show weekly when it comes back, and I look forward to hopefully loving thirteen more episodes of the Greendale 7. You should too.
(That being said, Megan Ganz has left after this season, and so could most of the staff, so if it does get a season five, then we’ll need to worry.)