NBC has tried to soft-pedal the news a bit, and it's surely a surprise to nobody who's been paying attention as the whole situation unfolded, but Community co-creator Dan Harmon, who was replaced last night as the show's primary architect, has taken to his Tumblr blog to let fans hear his side of the story. That story, unsurprisingly, doesn't have a happy ending.
No pun intended.
Harmon, for his part, likened NBC and Sony Pictures Television (who exhibit and own the show, respectively) to schoolyard bullies who, rather than bloodying his nose, used shady tactics like sending out a press release after close of business on a Friday to escape the inevitable controversy of firing a showrunner.
"Do not believe anyone that tells you on Monday that I quit or diminished my role so I could spend more time with my loved ones, or that I negotiated and we couldn’t come to an agreement, etc.," Harmon wrote. "It couldn’t be less true because, just to make this clear, literally nobody called me." He says that, in the absence of any contact from the network or Sony after the show was picked up for season four, and having heard that new showrunners had already been chosen, he began packing up his office days ago.
As fans of the cult-favorite show have feared, Harmon suggests that there will be some major changes ahead for the ratings-embattled Community.
"I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of Community without me," Harmon wrote, "but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying 'it has to be like this or I quit' roughly eight times a day."
It's a very definitive perspective on his new role, which downplays NBC's claims that he would still be involved in the day-to-day operations and tells fans that while a consultant position is standard operating procedure for a producer in his position (Aaron Sorkin always had a nominal title on The West Wing, for example, even after NBC ousted him from that show), it doesn't mean anything and carried with it no actual input on the show.
"Guys like me can’t actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet," Harmon wrote. "We’re still allowed to have a title on the things we create and 'help out,' like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff."
He added that "The same contract also gives me the same salary and title if I spend all day masturbating and playing Prototype 2. And before you ask yourself what you would do in my situation: buy Prototype 2."
The fact that the change apparently took place at the Sony Pictures Television level is telling, as it suggests that even if Community were canceled on NBC and picked by by another network (or, as has often been speculated, by Netflix), Harmon would likely not return to the show because Sony owns the show (except, apparently, for Harmon's own 10% and probably some portion belonging to his co-creators Joe and Anthony Russo). Still, some fans have pointed out that Thursday's season three finale, which was filmed before anyone was sure whether the series was coming back and therefore gave something resembling endings to the cast, is as good a sendoff as Harmon was likely to get.
Harmon is currently developing Rick & Morty, a half-hour, animated family comedy for Adult Swim.