I have no trouble picking a side in the feud between Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase. (Team Harmon, in case that wasn't immediately clear.) But inevitably, it doesn't matter: Chase did some things, Harmon said some things, Chase said some things back. Maybe they're both at fault, in which case I should probably be writing a more measured analysis of their beef.
But this isn't about the fight itself — it's about the solution. Fire Chevy Chase. Bam. Done. Yeah, OK, it's surely not as simple as that, what with contracts and the like, but the sooner Community ditches Chase, the better. His character is an unnecessary addition to the show, and his attitude is dragging everyone else down. I'm of the mind that actors' personal lives should have little to no bearing on their work, but Community's "one big, happy family" set is part of what has endeared it to fans. This is one of the few shows where news of behind-the-scenes drama is actually a big downer.
All that aside, the character of Pierce isn't exactly a fan favorite, and you get the sense that Chase understands that. There was a time when it was fun to watch his bumbling, racist antics, but at this point, the audience is far more invested in everyone-but-Pierce than they are in Chase's character. When he stormed out of the study group at the end of Season 2, I'm sure I wasn't alone in hoping he'd never be seen again. And in an interview with Huffington Post's Maggie Furlong, Chase even admitted how little his departure would matter.
[Last season], no one had any idea whether I would or wouldn't come back, but who in God's name in this country would care?
It's become more and more clear that Pierce is an inessential part of the group dynamic. And while it's important to distinguish the actor from the character, Chase's "What the fuck am I doing here?" attitude mimics Pierce's. They're both dead weight — and while Pierce the character might come around and discover his worth, I don't have the same hope for the actor who plays him. After all, Chase hates Community's heartwarming endings.
In the same Huffington Post interview, he compared the happy sitcom conclusion to being "relegated to hell."
I have creative issues with this show. I always have. With my character, with how far you can take [Joel McHale's] character ... just to give him a long speech about the world at the end of every episode is so reminiscent. It's like being relegated to hell and watching "Howdy Doody" for the rest of your life. It's not particularly necessary, but that's the way they do these things. I think it belies the very pretenses that his character, Jeff, has, that he's giving these talks. They're supposed to, in some way, be a little lesson to people who watch sitcoms ... to that degree, I can't stand sitcoms.
Here's a lesson: don't shit on your show in interviews. It's tacky, it's rude, and it makes those of us who don't see a reason for you to be there all the more eager to see you fired. I don't particularly care whether or not an actor likes the show he's on — I'm sure many of us have been forced to take a job we weren't thrilled about to pay the rent. But there's something so smarmy about airing those grievances to the press. It almost feels like a dare to show creator Dan Harmon, and in effect, isn't that what Chase was doing when he walked out in the middle of a scene? The message is clear: write better, or write me off.
The writing on Community is unique — while the show isn't my favorite sitcom on television, it's certainly one of the most original. Dan Harmon has a specific vision, and that's worked well for fans and critics. There's no reason he should have to alter that to fit Chevy Chase's specifications. And if the actor's beef is with sitcoms as a whole, what is he doing on a sitcom? Season 3 isn't the right time to come forward and say, "Hey, I'm not a big fan of this genre or how we're doing things." Maybe bring that up to your agent when he offers you the pilot.
I don't hate Chevy Chase. I don't know Chevy Chase. I'm aware that he has a reputation for being difficult — something alluded to in this Deadline story — but I don't have any proof one way or the other. The bottom line is, whatever star power he once brought to Community is no longer necessary. This show (which, it should be noted, has seen a rise in ratings over the past weeks) is not going to sink or swim depending on Chase's involvement. If anything, ditching Pierce would tighten the cast dynamic — and create the kind of harmony we expect from a bunch of goofy nerds putting on a show.
[Image via WENN.com]