The ‘Community’ Movie Could Expose Dan Harmon’s Worst Habits

Conflicting reports about the state of the ‘Community’ movie script may be a reason to worry about Harmon’s writing process
The ‘Community’ Movie Could Expose Dan Harmon’s Worst Habits

It’s been 19 months since Peacock announced that they were finally greenlighting the prophecy-fulfilling Community movie, and we still don’t believe that Dan Harmon has finished the script. If the show’s production is any indicator, he’s guaranteed to have a rough draft done by the premiere.

Ever since NBC first threatened to end Community more unceremoniously than how they canned The Cape, the rallying cry of “Six Seasons and a Movie!” has focused the show’s avid online fandom on the ultimate goal: a feature-length send-off for the cult-beloved series. In this dream, the whole cast returns to their roles — except for Chevy Chase, of course — and the suits and stiffs who clashed with series creator Harmon throughout the show’s run cede full creative control to the storytelling savant. On September 30, 2022, NBC’s streaming service told the Community fandom that our dream was (almost) about to come true, and we rejoiced. Then, we went back to doing what we had been doing for seven years prior to the Community movie announcement: We waited.

Since that glorious September morning, Community fans have received the welcome news that Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown, the two biggest names left out of the initial Community movie cast list, are, in fact, planning on appearing in the project. We’ve also heard that there is a tenuous story outline for the film, which, according to Glover, will be about a Greendale reunion that is filmed by now-successful director Abed Nadir. Joel McHale even claimed that the film will begin shooting this summer, or even this week

As for the all-important script? Just in the past couple of months, Glover has claimed that he’s received a finished screenplay but hasn’t read it, then Harmon corrected Glover and said that the script certainly isn’t complete but is “almost done,” then Alison Brie said she read the script “and it’s so funny,” but she somehow doesn’t know what happens to her character Annie Edison in the film. 

From the outside, it seems like no two members of the core Community cast and crew have the same idea for how this goddamn story is going to go — so it’s just like old times.

During the making of Community, Harmon was notorious for constantly rewriting scripts, and he often forced his actors to learn different lines on the day of shooting as he pushed production hours well into overtime. This, along with many, many other factors ranging from substantial to petty, contributed to the storied decline in Harmon’s relationship with Chase as Harmon’s obsession with fine-tuning every scene up until the last possible moment brushed against Chase’s desire to do his job, say his slurs and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

As is the case with most of his faults, Harmon is hyper-aware of his tendency to overwork his own scripts and has publicly flagellated himself for the bad habit on more than one occasion. Back in September 2023, Harmon told The Hollywood Reporter that he hopes to break out of the old cycle of constant rewrites and clinical perfectionism on the road to the Community movie, saying, “I don’t want these now-superstar people, like Emmy-winning Donald Glover, who are bothering to gather out of loyalty to this thing, to come back and once again be getting blue pages run down by an intern that totally contradict what they spent all night memorizing.” 

That, of course, is a goal that only the Community movie’s writer can achieve, and if the TV giant fails to fix his creative process for the production of a feature, the consequences may be even more severe than getting fired from his own show only to return a season later. Compared to television, films are made on a much larger budget in a much tighter production schedule, and timing has only grown more dire with the explosion of the cast’s careers following the initial conclusion of Community

More will be riding on Harmon’s decision-making and meticulousness now that he only has one shot to get it right, and the pressure of delivering on a film that’s been nervously anticipated for almost a decade may exacerbate Harmon’s own anxieties, thus intensifying the bad habits that they create in his writing process.

In a separate conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Harmon talked about the stress of sticking the landing with the Community movie, admitting, “I hate to say how terrified I am to do it wrong, because there’s a part of me that knows that that fear cannot possibly result in a good thing.” 

Without checking with a single member of the Community crew, I’d wager that none of them have ever been frightened by a finished script.


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