First, it looked like a goner. And then, it was a safe bet for renewal. And now, fans of NBC's Community have something else to worry about: prickly actor Chevy Chase and prickly showrunner Dan Harmon are more or less going at each other hammer and tongs at this point.
See below for a brief time line of the unpleasantness, pieced together from press reports, a Huffington Post interview with Chase, and various dirt diggers who are now owed a drink by Adweek. Here's hoping they can patch things up: Harmon's writing really is something special, even if it doesn't resonate with Chase, while Chase rounds out the ensemble in a way no other actor could—even if Harmon doesn't like him.
- Chase, tired of apparently being fed scripts piecemeal, walks off the set during a critical scene in the final episode of the current season, leaving a hole in the season finale.
- Harmon, upset at Chase, leads at least part of the cast and crew in chanting "F--k Chevy" at the wrap party. (Parts of this message board have since been redacted.)
- Chase sends Harmon this voicemail.
- Chase gives The Huffington Post this interview, in which he trashes the show's writing and lets slip at least a couple of lines that Harmon could have written for his character, including this gem: "I think that the two white girls—the two pretty, young girls, Alison [Brie] and Gillian [Jacobs]—they're probably more like people that we can all understand."
- In a weirdly coincidental flourish, a blogger finds the Reddit page linked above the next day and writes a story that sets off the flurry of media coverage of which this article is a part.
And that's where we stand now. Sources say that those with a stake in the show are just hoping it will all blow over, and honestly, if you haven't noticed a disjunct between Chase and the tone of the rest of the scattershot, off-the-wall show, you haven't been watching it. The tension between Harmon and Chase is well-documented and can be seen pretty clearly in this video, but New York magazine's Joe Adalian writes that it's unlikely to affect the show's chances at renewal—except positively. He estimates that even in a worst-case scenario, Chase would leave, the show's budget would decline by a million dollars-ish and the only guy who doesn't really fit into the frame would be gone. (It's worth noting that while a lot of this coverage has been a pigpile on Chase, more than one person speaking on background said Harmon was also more than a little temperamental.)
It's true, of course, that something on the order of three dead horses would have to happen to get the cult-favorite comedy canceled. With syndication rights sold to Comedy Central last month, NBC would be flushing away quite a bit of money if it were to end the show prematurely. Neither reps of NBC nor Sony Television, the show's producer, would comment.
The question remains: If Chase leaves, will the show still retain the fans who claim there's nothing else like it on TV?