Dan Harmon says TV shows are like hamburgers or crack
Fired "Community" creator and show runner Dan Harmon says making television is about "pacifying" viewers, and that he'll bring "less ideas" to his next show.
Harmon, speaking about his firing in May in G4's "Attack of the Show," said he may have brought too many ideas to "Community," which has struggled in the ratings but received critical praise and a devoted online following for its twisty narratives, pop culture homages, and frequent shifts in tone.
He conceded that he may be difficult to work with, and that his approach to TV doesn't endear him to executives. He was replaced for the show's upcoming fourth season.
"If 20 people call you a horse's ass, you buy a saddle," Harmon joked with guest host Marc Maron. "I feel like I'm a good person and a professional, a very able leader of men. I also feel like I'm 25… Maybe I am just a jerk. To people who work above me, I am a liability that isn't worth the benefit. It's a low-rated show that's not generating much revenue."
He joked that NBC begged him not to leave, but he had to do renovations on his house and walk around in his bathrobe.
Harmon said NBC allowed his show to go in sometimes strange directions, because, "They're in the Emmy business. They respect the idea of it being a critical darling as opposed to a ratings juggernaut."
But he said he was still disappointed to be regularly trounced on Thursday nights, ratings-wise, by CBS' "Big Bang Theory."
Harmon compared television shows to crack — in that it gives users a short, intense high — and hamburgers, in that they should appeal to a wide audience. He said a TV creator's job, in part, is to pacify viewers who "live in a giant concrete and steel honeycomb" and watch as an escape.
"What else are you going to do, go roller skating?" he asked. "In television, you're engaged in the pacification of the masses, but I think that the masses need to be pacified. They deserve it. I think that if you pacify them well, you can clap yourself on the back and go, 'I'm a good pacifier. … I got sucked on.'"
He also said his next foray into television won't have as many ideas as "Community."
"My idea is to have less ideas, because I want to be successful in television," he said. "I turned off 90 percent of my brain… for the first season of 'Community.' I was able to disguise myself as a person who just wanted to make television and do a good job. And slowly, I got itchy."
He may also make a multi-camera show, he said, to prove that the format can succeed as long as it has well-rounded characters.
Watch the interview: