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Dan Harmon Drops A Philosophical Update On The Community Movie

In the Season 2 episode of "Community" titled "Paradigms of Human Memory," resident nerd Abed (Danny Pudi) reveals himself to be a big fan of "The Cape," a real-life superhero TV series that aired concurrently on NBC with the second season of "Community." Series protagonist and faux-cool guy Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) mocks Abed for his fandom after Abed knocks Jeff's lunch onto the ground while attempts to mimic the hero of "The Cape." Abed defends "The Cape," arguing that it will continue for "six seasons and a movie."

Many fans felt that "Community" was deserving of a similar fate. Unfortunately, the series went through the proverbial ringer during much of its time on the air. In the years leading up to its cancelation, series regular Chevy Chase badmouthed the show, showrunner Dan Harmon was fired, Chase quit, Harmon returned, star Donald Glover quit, and the show's sixth season lost what was once a burgeoning Yahoo! streaming service $42 million (via Variety). During those turbulent times, fans held onto "six seasons and a movie" as a rallying cry of sorts, in hopes that "Community" might do what "The Cape" couldn't and last for precisely that long.

Despite all odds, "Community" did, in fact, air for six seasons. A "Community" movie, then, remains the hypothetical cherry on top necessary for the slogan to come true. 

In a July 15 appearance on the "Good One" podcast, produced by pop culture site Vulture, Harmon revealed that a "Community" movie might not be an impossibility. It's complicated.

Dan Harmon thinks a Community movie should satisfy longtime fans

"Good One" podcast host Jesse David Fox broached the topic of a "Community" movie by mentioning that at a 2019 "Community" cast reunion, the majority of the cast essentially expressed their openness to a sequel series, but purely as a hypothetical. By contrast, Fox wanted to know what it might practically take for a "Community" movie to be a reality.Harmon responded not by discussing the behind-the-scenes production of a "Community" movie but by outlining what he perceives to be the ideological struggle inherent to the idea of such a film. 

On one hand, a movie based on a long-running TV series, Harmon argues, is inherently meant to satisfy that show's existing fanbase first and foremost. On the other hand, wheeling out a constant series of references might satisfy viewers on a base level, but wouldn't make for a work of much artistic merit. According to Harmon, the ideal hypothetical "Community" movie would be one that both fans enjoy and that can stand on its own as a valuable piece of creative work.

"Here's the biggest philosophical question [for a reunion movie]: Are you supposed to service a mythical new viewer? The obvious, dogmatic, practical, off-the-street answer is like, No, you don't. It's fan service," Harmon said. "Formalistically, you owe a movie that I think the fans can not only enjoy, but they can stand back and go, 'You know, the crazy thing about this 'Community' movie is that if you didn't know there was a show, this is an insanely good movie.'"

At the interview's end, Harmon also revealed that he is "at least once a week, thinking about it, because the gears are turning." He continued, "Logistically, the locks are coming away. And the only problems are becoming the creative ones, which is great, because I love those problems. I love having these conversations, and they're being had."

The "Community" movie may not yet be a sure thing, but based on Harmon's last statement, "six seasons and a movie" has arguably a greater chance of becoming a reality than ever before in the series' complicated history.