It’s almost been 24 hours since the news of Dan Harmon’s forced exit from Community hit the interwebs and it’s a sad day indeed. While this sentiment has already been said, I would like to comment on the news by saying this move probably assures that Community will never hit the creative genius that it’s shown sustained flashes of before. The best shows (Louie, Mad Men, Arrested Development, etc…) are almost always steered by the unique, creative force of one person (take that hive mind!) and now that person—along with an alarming amount of the show’s writers, has been removed from Greendale’s campus. However, even as we stew in the darkest timeline, I feel there are a few silver linings worth mentioning.
1. The Community season three finale works well as a series finale
Not only was the most recent episode a back-door finale, it was a really good one. It was full of laughs and ended by placing all of the characters in new and exciting places while tipping its hat at the journey we’ve been on so far. So even if the show comes back as a shell of its former self, the Community fan community can easily look back at Introduction to Finality as the unofficial ending, just as Scrubs fans ignore season 9. Harmon’s exit paired with Community‘s renewal means that, in an ironically depressing way, fans can have their cake and eat it too: the show might still be good enough to enjoy and the beautiful corpse is still in play as well.
2. Dan Harmon went out like a Badass and will create again
While Harmon is admittedly not good at other aspects of his job, his skills as a writer are unquestionable. What’s even more certain, however, is that Harmon now has a cult-audience that seems to share similar creative values with him. It’s been reported that one of the major reasons behind Harmon’s firing was his refusal to make the show more broad— one of the main factors in the show’s consistently low ratings. Provided he doesn’t lose this philosophy, like some cult, comedy writers apparently have, he’s going to get a chance to do it again— hopefully with a cable network where the ratings pressure won’t be so high.
3. The new showrunners are actually really talented
If Harmon’s exit was a must, it would have been ideal if an experienced writer with the show took over, but this wasn’t the case as the show has been hemorrhaging creative staff for weeks now and second-in-command Chris McKenna had no interest in working on the show without Harmon. Still, new showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port are both very talented and come from the similarly quick-paced Happy Endings. The situation is still shitty, but it is better than cancellation.
In all likelihood, the audience’s rejection of a Harmon-less show (combined with the show’s new position in the Friday Night Death Slot) will probably lead to a quick demise. I predict the show will air about five episodes, before being pulled and having the rest of the season burned off quietly on some obscure nights. But, if I’m wrong, and the show’s quality is high enough to keep the fan community’s passion near its current level, it should succeed in getting at least full 22 episodes next year and possibly a Season Five. Sadly, #sixseasonsandamovie seems more unlikely than ever.