Just a day after Community's fantastic three-episode finale-ganza, bad news has befallen the comedy: Creator and showrunner Dan Harmon will not be back for Season 4. Rumors have been swirling about Harmon's possible future (or lack thereof) with the show, but they just didn't seem real because who would leave a job like that? The cult comedy was renewed after a massive fan outcry, so why wouldn't its creator be jumping on board?
We may never have the answer to that question. UPDATE: Read Harmon's side of the story here—he says he didn't know about NBC's decision, and that he was fired. Well, that's a bummer. When will we get an explanation from NBC and Sony?
It's amazing that Harmon's vision lasted as long as it did, if you ask me. I love Community and think that it should be mandated by the FDA as a daily supplement, but even I understand that it's a miracle the show has been on television for three years. Behind the scenes, I'm sure there was a lot of pressure from NBC to make it appeal to a broader audience, but what's the point in sticking around for a diluted version of your vision? What's weird is, we saw Dan Harmon's vision over the course of the first three seasons.
Does Dan Harmon leaving suck? Yes, it does. But is it also awesome that he stayed on for three seasons? Yes, it is. Some people just aren't cut out for network B.S.
Regardless, here's the good news—and I promise you it's good news, even though most of you will treat it like a stepfather situation: Moses Port and David Guarascio will step in as showrunners. A lot of you might not know those names, but they are the guys behind one of my favorite comedies of the last decade, The CW's vastly underrated Aliens in America (seriously, that show had more heart than a cardiologist convention). Aliens in America and Community have a lot in common in their basic tone, which is "legitimate heartwarming comedy." Just last week, Port and Guarascio were behind the Fox pilot El Jefe, and they've served as writer/consultants on Happy Endings. Honestly, I've been dying to see their next project, and if I could choose anyone to take over, it would probably be these guys. That's the good news.
The bad news? Harmon and his infinite well of absurd genius are gone. Same goes for Harmon's fellow executive producers Neil Goldman and Garret Donovan, who've left to run the show at Fox's very un-Community-esque Ben and Kate. But things could be worse. Will Community be different in Season 4? Maybe. Well, probably. But honestly, this news isn't the series' be-all-end-all. There are a lot of people calling this situation the end of Community, but that's just doomsday cynicism. Community's characters and tone are fixed; hopefully the new regime knows what to do.
Oh, and please don't think this happened because of Chevy Chase, because it didn't.