The Cult of Harmontown

I’m not the biggest fan of Dan Harmon.

I’ve outlined before my inability to connect with Community despite it checking all of my boxes for a thing I should love.

I adored The Sarah Silverman Program, but I mostly loved how committed to it’s weirdness it’s performers were, which is, frankly the only thing about Community that I really, really love.

I remember that during the public feuding with Chevy Chase and the firing by NBC feeling like Harmon was not handling the situation in a way I could get behind. I kept thinking when it came to both Harmon and Chevy, “these are grown men? These are professionals? This is disgusting.”

And my distaste for Harmon and my inability to connect with his work was not helped by friends of mine who were fans.

My nerd friends who liked the way he explored their interests.

My writer and creator friends who admired the way he pushed the boundaries of an art form.

I’d never seen anything like the way Harmon fans rabidly defended this man. Whedonites, who I’m pretty scared of, at least are willing to admit that Dollhouse was pretty much a steaming pile of turds. They’ll point out it’s good points, but they’ll never defend the whole.

And Harmon’s never quite done much in appearances to make it up to me. He’s always come off as an ego maniac, and it drove me crazy, in the sense that the problems were always from the outside. The only creator I’ve seen otherwise act like that is Sorkin. And it turned me off there too.

Anyway, this is the baggage that I took in to Harmontown, the documentary about Dan Harmon’s cross country tour with his podcast. I’d been curious about the doc, but not curious enough to spend what would amount to $50 to go see it in a theater. So when it popped up on Netflix, I was excited to watch it.

Also, if I’d seen it in the theater I would have probably had to deal with Harmon’s fans, and I would have been uncomfortable rolling my eyes as much as I did. Which I did a lot.

The film is spectacular. It’s beautifully shot, neatly structured and you get a good picture of Harmon, and those around him, as well as the downward spiral that lead him to losing Community in it’s 4th season.

I’m still not sure about Harmon and how I feel about him, or his cultish fan base. I’m still not sure if Community will ever be something that I can do more than admire aesthetically. But I feel a little bit more compassion towards Dan Harmon, and those around him.

And I at least got to see an amazingly well made documentary.

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