‘Community’: The Toxic Secrets Behind NBC’s Feel-Good Sitcom
The 2009-2015 sitcom Community might be the biggest cult show produced within the last 20 years. Thanks to being obsessively quirky and using numerous meta approaches in each episode, this was definitely not a typical sitcom.
Well, creator Dan Harmon may have had no choice but to go more extreme in the creativity. After all, a comedy about a community college is going to sound automatically dull and full of tropes.
Instead, the show ribbed pop culture from a meta-perspective thanks to a talented ensemble cast. While the show is still loved today, it had far too much toxicity on-set than it deserved.
Take a look at what went on behind-the-scenes of Community, and whether some of those incidents were just overblown.
Dan Harmon was at the root of much of the discord
While the main cast mostly got along great (other than with one star), it was showrunner Dan Harmon who seemed to create the most on-set chaos. He also caused some problems off-screen, especially when his past misdeeds came back to haunt him.
The biggest problem is that Harmon has admitted to being an alcoholic while producing the show. As a result, it led to him acting erraticlly during filming, including falling asleep on the set and berating network executives along the way.
Things got so bad, NBC fired him from Community by the show’s third season. They had to hire him back two years later because the show floundered without him.
Even worse is Harmon seemed to have harassed a female staff writer, latter of whom confronted the producer on Twitter later. Their discussion there was startling, if also brutally honest thanks to Harmon taking responsibility for his past actions. Today, he still talks about his past mistakes, if enjoying success with his other hit creation: Rick and Morty.
Chevy Chase was also the source of many problems
As respected as Chevy Chase is as a comedian, his experiences on the show left a bit of a sour taste. When he first signed to the show, it felt like it was going to help revitalize his career during a time when his movie career had sputtered out.
Once dealing with the reality of long days shooting, Chase started to feel like it was too much work. Besides, he was also unhappy with the writing, including the direction of his own character: Pierce Hawthorne.
Maybe Pierce was a little too much like the real Chevy Chase, hence why he took offense to the writing at times. Chase and Harmon locked horns often due to these creative clashes.
At one point, Chase spouted the N-word on the set in front of co-stars Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown. Whether he was really joking or not is hard to tell, making many of Chase’s antics oddly meta on their own.
Reviving ‘Community’ on Yahoo! Screen was a major mistake
Remember when Yahoo! and their early streaming service Yahoo! Screen picked up Community for a sixth season after NBC’s cancellation? This might have created more toxicity than anything since it seemed more than a little unnecessary.
If fans loved seeing the characters for one more season (minus Chase who left after Season 4), the online ratings were appalling. The show already received low ratings when on NBC due to its cult status.
Yahoo! simply was not ready for prime-time back when Netflix was already starting to dominate the streaming landscape. Unfortunately, the entire enterprise cost a whopping $42 million, forcing Yahoo! to take a significant loss.
Some cast members faced anxious unknowns
It was already a risky move acting in a sitcom that was breaking a lot of rules. Chances of cancellation at NBC were constantly on the edge as well. Cast members like Alison Brie and Donald Glover both faced considerable anxiety over what their futures would be amid all the turmoil.
Both did not have to worry, obviously. Now only the stars of the show will always look back at Community as sheer creative hell, while outsiders will continue to lap up its daring approach.