Community's woes are not all NBC's fault. There's been no shortage of internal strife as well. Of course we've all heard about Chevy Chase's dissatisfaction with the series, as the notoriously difficult actor doesn't voice his displeasure with the material — the best he's had in years, mind you — with an indoor voice. Chase's curmudgeony, diva behavior has tainted the show's sunny, group-love image, though I doubt it's ultimately really had much effect on its general health. No, credit for the internal component of the show's struggles probably must go to Chase's arch-nemesis, show creator Dan Harmon. Here's another notoriously hard-to-handle guy who was so demanding and exacting about his vision that he ultimately got fired for it. Harmon seemed like an arrogant, stubborn visionary who nearly sank an entire show out of some mulish sense of pride.
Harmon's big exit from the writers room this spring created a huge, possibly show-killing hole in the series, which had always been guided firmly by Harmon's determinedly particular vision. What would the ship do without its captain, especially when the captain was the only one who really knew how to sail the boat he built? Well, NBC brought in a pair of new guys to run things, apparent masochists who are bravely but stupidly willing to subject themselves to the tortures of the show's myriad obsessive fans. In an interview that ran in The New York Times today, David Guarascio and Moses Port tell Dave Itzkoff that they actually turned down the showrunning gig twice before accepting it. And we don't blame them! Coming on to work on troubled Community in its fourth season, with the fans ready to pounce and NBC switching out expensive lightbulbs for cheaper ones and replacing Danny Pudi with a cardboard cut out, sounds like a pretty miserable job. But they are braver folks than some, this Guarascio and Port, so they're doing it anyway.
They insist that they're not going to pander to try to get a bigger audience, but that they also can't simply cater to the whims of the show's hardcore followers. That's a narrow tightrope to walk, and I fear they might inevitably stumble too far in one direction. At this point, I'm surprised anyone wants to work on this show. Sure Guarascio and Port could pull off an amazing revitalization project — essentially fixing up a park that's popular with junkies but few else while still keeping the neighborhood feel — and win tons of praise, but that's risky. They quite simply could be out of a job in a matter of weeks. Which is scary! Especially scary when you consider that it's not just the ratings wonks they have to contend with, it's the people who actively cheerlead and evangelize for the show. How can they possibly pull that off?
Really, we view Community's possibly imminent demise as a good thing. It had a beautiful, innocent infancy, but became sick pretty early in its childhood and has suffered ever since.. As we've no proven modern techniques to cure such an ailment, it might be best to just let it die in peace and go to heaven, where it can play with Twin Peaks and My So-Called Life, other beloved but troubled shoes with rabid followings that too quickly departed this earth. It's the humane thing to do for all involved and, well, if we're honest we wouldn't mind reading some sad/angry reactions from fans on Twitter. We know it's mean, but just ask NBC: trolling those weirdos is kinda fun, too.
Whatever happens, we say good luck, Misters Guarascio and Port. May this difficult travail be blessedly short-lived. It will be better for you in the long run. And for us. All of us will finally be free.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.