Community is Dan Harmon's comedy series on NBC. The series is a joint venture production between Universal Media Studios and Sony Pictures Television. It debuted on Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 9:30 PM. The show later moved to the 8:00 PM slot.
The series centers on Jeff (Joel McHale), a suspended lawyer who is back in school after his college degree is deemed invalid by the State Bar. Chevy Chase will play Pierce, a student at the community college who has been married seven times.
The series debuted on Facebook and was viewable for a limited time, and got a largely positive response, but most comments were complaining about the Geoblock. It has since been released on Amazon Video-on-Demand and Playstation 3 Video-on-Demand.
Fellow Channel 101 alumni David B Lyons, Sona Panos and Dave Seger also work on the series, Lyons as Location Manager and Panos and Seger as Harmon's assistants. The character of Abed is named after Abed Gheith. According to Gheith:
Dan didn't steal my name and likeness.
Actually he really pushed for me to get the role and I went through a rigorous audition process that was both liberating for me as an actor and also heartbreaking to see how the system works.
I got very very far and almost made it but sadly didn't make the final decision.
So, really Dan did what he could and I'm pretty flattered he thinks I'm interesting enough to base a character on. I know that once the show comes on it'll be weird. But it's very very exciting to know I'm a tv character. Specially since I've dedicated a large portion of my life to watching sitcoms.
The Dean of the campus is called Dean "Craig Pelton", a reference to Dean Pelton. Professor Ian Duncan is named after Ian Duncan. According to Dean, Dan said he's just lazy with names. Britta's name is inspired by Dan's friend Britta Phillips, formerly of Luna, currently of Britta and Dean.
Harmon has emphasized the importance of the cast to making the premise of the comedy work. "Casting was 95 percent of putting the show together," he said in an interview. Actor Chevy Chase had long been a favorite of Harmon. Though principally not very partial to sitcoms, Chase was persuaded to take the job by the quality of the show's writing. Harmon saw similarities between Chase and the character he plays on the show. Though Chase has often been ridiculed for his career choices, Harmon believed this role could be redeeming: "What makes Chevy and Pierce heroic is this refusal to stop."Harmon had to warn Chase against playing a "wise-ass" the way he often does in his roles, since the character of Pierce is a rather pathetic figure who is normally the butt of the joke himself.
McHale – known from the E! comedy The Soup – was also, like Chase, impressed by Harmon's writing. He commented that "after reading Dan's script it was so head and shoulders above everything else that I was reading." McHale appealed to Harmon because of his likable quality, which allowed the character to possess certain unsympathetic traits without turning the viewer against him. For the role of Annie Harmon wanted someone who would resemble Tracy Flick, Reese Witherspoon's character from the 1999 movie Election. Originally the producers were looking for a Latina or Asian Tracy Flick, for greater diversity, but could not find any. Instead they ended up casting Alison Brie, known from her role as Trudy Campbell on Mad Men.
The premise of Community was based on Harmon's real-life experiences. In an attempt to save his relationship with his then-girlfriend, he once enrolled in Glendale Community College, north of Los Angeles, where they would take Spanish together. Harmon got involved in a study group and – somewhat against his own instincts – became closely connected to the group of people with whom he had very little in common. "...I was in this group with these knuckleheads and I started really liking them," he explains "even though they had nothing to do with the film industry and I had nothing to gain from them and nothing to offer them." With this as the background, Harmon wrote the show with a main character largely based on himself. He had, like Jeff, been self-centred and independent to the extreme before he realised the value of connecting with other people.
About the creative process behind the writing, Harmon says that he had to write the show as if it were a movie, not a sitcom. Essentially, he says, the process was no different from the earlier work he had done, except for the length and the target demographic.
Filming the show involved a lot of improvisation, particularly from Chevy Chase. About Chase, Harmon said that he "tends to come up with lines that you can actually end scenes with sometimes." He also mentioned Joel McHale and Donald Glover, the actor who portrays Troy, as adept improvisers.
The show's general reviews have been mostly positive, scoring a 69 out of 100 in Metacritic.
The show debuted on NBC with 7.7 million viewers and a 3.7 share among adults 18-49.
- Joel McHale as Jeff Winger
- Chevy Chase as Pierce Hawthorne
- Danny Pudi as Abed Nadir
- Gillian Jacobs as Britta Perry
- John Oliver as Dr. Ian Duncan
- Donald Glover as Troy Barnes
- Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley Bennett
- Alison Brie as Annie Edison
- Ken Jeong as Señor Ben Chang
- Jim Rash as Dean Craig Pelton
- Checy Chase on Community
- Televisionary interviews
- Ain't it Cool News coverage
- Interview with Dan for AV Club Milwaukee