The Brightest Timeline: Dan Harmon Returning to Community

Slate's Culture Blog
June 3 2013 12:33 PM

The Brightest Timeline: Dan Harmon Returning to Community

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Community creator/showrunner Dan Harmon

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Over the past year, Community has provided numerous off-screen surprises. First, its showrunner and creative center Dan Harmon was ousted from the show after internal conflict with NBC back in May of 2012. Then, the date Oct. 19 became a running joke for Community fans after the show’s Season 4 premiere was pushed back to February. Chevy Chase, a frequent source of tension on the set, left the show midway through filming. And after a less-than-stellar (and shortened) Harmon-less season with generally unimproved ratings, NBC raised eyebrows when it decided to renew the show for a fifth go-round.

As if all those twists and turns weren’t enough, this weekend brought the most unexpected development in the series’ rollercoaster history so far: Community will be Harmon-less no more, with the series’ creator returning as showrunner, along with former writer and executive producer Chris McKenna. Harmon himself confirmed the news on Twitter over the weekend, crediting one of the show’s stars, Joel McHale, as the reason for his return.

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This is the biggest curveball yet for fans of the show—and likely the most joyous news they could hope for. Harmon’s apparent enthusiasm now is a far cry from his acrimonious departure—and while he may have had to swallow some of his pride to return to those who ousted him in the first place, it seems notable that NBC recognized how far off track the show became without him involved.

Now more questions arise. Will Chase return as well? Probably not: Harmon also tweeted a list of “deal breakers” for his deal with Sony Pictures Television, and named all of the main cast members except for Chase, with whom he has had a very contentious relationship. Will Community be able to reclaim its former glory? Even with Harmon back, will fans be willing to stick around for a fifth season?

The answers to those questions are, obviously, less certain. But whatever the results, we have a reason to look forward to more Community again. And even if we don’t get six seasons and a movie, at least there’s restored hope that the study group can go out on top.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.