“In 2009, I made a ‘pilot’ which strove to parody the series Dexter and only succeeded in offending,” Harmon wrote in a statement obtained by EW. “I quickly realized the content was way too distasteful and took the video down immediately. Nobody should ever have to see what you saw and for that, I sincerely apologize.”
Adult Swim, the network behind Rick and Morty, also provided a comment to EW. “At Adult Swim, we seek out and encourage creative freedom and look to push the envelope in many ways, particularly around comedy,” a spokesperson for the network said. “The offensive content of Dan’s 2009 video that recently surfaced demonstrates poor judgement and does not reflect the type of content we seek out. Dan recognized his mistake at the time and has apologized. He understands there is no place for this type of content here at Adult Swim.”
The video, titled Daryl, is a five-minute spoof of Showtime’s long-running series Dexter, and was posted to Channel 101, the website Harmon co-founded in 2009. The video follows Daryl (played by Harmon) as he enters a home through a window, removes his pants, and rubs his genitals on a baby doll while partly naked. The logline provided by Channel 101 reads, “Originally made with Showtime, Dan Harmon presents a groundbreaking new show about the darker side of therapy.” Harmon calls the character “a baby rapist with a heart of gold.”
The video, which begins with a warning of “controversial” content, first reappeared on Twitter over Comic-Con weekend. Harmon was in San Diego with his Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland at the time. Shortly after the video began generating backlash, Harmon’s Twitter account was apparently deleted.
It’s the second time this week a public figure is facing controversy over his past actions. Days earlier, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired from directing Guardian of the Galaxy 3 after years-old tweets were resurfaced in which he made repeated jokes about pedophilia and molestation. Far-right personality Mike Cernovich was responsible for resurfacing the tweets.
Rick and Morty, which Harmon still executive produces, recently received a mammoth 70-episode renewal order from the network.
This post has been updated to include statements from Dan Harmon and Adult Swim.