To celebrate Community finally arriving on Netflix, EW is binging the beloved comedy with the cast and creator.
In recent years, Netflix has continually given new life to shows joining the streaming platform's catalog, whether you were already a modern day classic, like The Office, or something like Waco, which two years after a quiet run on Paramount Network has become a regular in Netflix's top 10. Now, it's time for Community to get the golden ticket.
After being on Hulu since premiering on NBC in 2009 and spending the sixth and final season on Yahoo Screen (R.I.P.), the cult classic sitcom arrived April 1 on Netflix, coincidentally, right as the world was stuck at home and looking for new binges more than ever. And with Community seemingly primed for the Netflix bump, EW is launching the latest installment of our BINGE series, in which hosts Chancellor Agard and Derek Lawrence will go through the entire run via in-depth analysis of each season and interviews with the cast and creator.
Over the next week, one episode will be released daily, focusing on a particular season and featuring the likes of stars Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jim Rash, and Ken Jeong. But, before we dive deep into each school year, creator Dan Harmon is taking us through Community's creation, rise, and end in our series primer, which can be watched above. And, like so many of us, he's already found himself dipping his toes back into the show.
"It's been the right amount of time, even for somebody who's been too inside it, which could refer to either me or the fans," he shares. "I mean, we both had a passionate relationship with the show that's resulted in me not really watching it for a long time. And, for a totally unrelated reason, I was watching one of the episodes. The easiest way to do it was to hop on Netflix to find it really quick, watch that one episode, and I ended up in this four or five episode binge. And I'm the guy that has the worst anxiety about the show and the most reasons to turn his head away and stuff like that, and I was just like, 'Wow, it's been just long enough and this is just easy enough to keep it running, and it's just a kind of delightful binging experience on Netflix.'''
The idea for Community came from Harmon's own experience going to community college in his early 30s. Like Jeff (McHale), Harmon was initially annoyed upon being asked by some younger students to study, only to soon have a change of heart. "I was having the greatest time of time of my life," he says. "In my head, I was like, 'I am a pretty rare specimen of jackass,' and then [it] clicked, like, 'Okay, so the next time I'm pitching a network, I don't have to pitch them the robot show or the show about people who produce your dreams, or the conceptual medieval fantasy thing. I can finally satisfy myself and them by saying, 'This is a show about a fish out of water,' because that fish out of water is me, and it's an asshole, but one you'll learn to like because you'll cast a handsome guy in the role.' It's about the kinds of things that people care about."
Upon getting the greenlight from NBC and scoring a spot in their coveted Must See TV block alongside comedy heavyweights The Office, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock, Harmon felt the pressure "do what I thought I should be doing" and make a more traditional series. "It wasn't my goal to do something crazy; it was my goal to get a pool and a health plan," explains Harmon. That being said, he admits to preparing Abed (Pudi) to be his "ripcord," knowing he had the meta-crazed film major in case he did need to reverse course and steer into the madness. Then, with the end of season 1 approaching, NBC commissioned three extra episodes to air before the finale, and Harmon points to a "distracted" studio in Sony, who was working on new pilots, as well as his attitude of "desperation" that allowed him to throw up a few "Hail Marys." And that led to two of season 1's most memorable episodes: Goodfellas homage "Contemporary American Poultry" and paintball OG "Modern Warfare."
"It was kind of like kids on the last week of school; we had this really fun time writing these last three episodes that felt like they didn't need to matter as much to our handlers," recalls Harmon, who points to that as the stretch when they noticed an uptick in critical praise. "I think going into season 2, it was sort of like, 'Well, we almost got canceled, we're only here because it was cheaper to keep us, and the only thing that we accomplished was a couple of reviews that distinguished us from 30 Rock, distinguished us from Parks and Rec. Not because we were better or worse, but because we were at least different and not something that was just trying and failing to be also them. This is our survival mechanism, to get more reviews like this, not Nielsen ratings, which are never going to happen.' Then, season 2 got a little more self-indulgent, if that's the word. It was a little more confident. It was like, 'stay in your strong corner,' and that's probably why it was the peak season for a lot of people, because it was a perfect, different split between total self-indulgence and self-destruction."
For more from Harmon, including his reaction to the rallying cry #sixseasonsandamovie, watch the first installment of EW's BINGE of Community above. And check back on Friday for season 1's episode with Joel McHale.