NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth
NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth
Community returns tonight with a very special V-Day episode, and to figure out the hearts-and-flowers situation for our favorite Greendale Community College students, we chatted exclusively with show runner Dan Harmon to find out: Are Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) the real thing? Are Annie (Allison Brie) and Troy (Don Glover) over before they began? And heck, could Annie-Britta be more than just a frat boy's fantasy? It turns out that the answer might be up to you. Yes, you!
Plus, will the series get a season-two pickup? Here's what we're hearing from Dan, along with four sneak peeks of tonight's all-new Community!
What's the current party line on who belongs with who as far as the Troy-Annie-Jeff-Britta polygon is concerned?
The reason we're invested in every relationship on television that we've ever been invested in on TV is because either one or both of them already have boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever, or they just don't like each other at all. I mean, there's always a barrier. With the Jeff-Annie thing, I'm not saying we would never [go there]. There is that age-inappropriate factor—and then there's that chemistry that they do have. But we don't sit in front of a Stratego board and really, really look down the line, because what I've discovered very quickly is that relationship between characters are the elements of a TV show that the audiences really appreciate having a hand in.
It's impressive that you know about how seriously fans take TV-show relationships, because some show runners blow that off.
I didn't know about this going into it, but then very quickly watching Twitter, and learning about "shipping" and all this stuff, I was like, oh, I get it! And I looked back on like, Frasier, yeah I never really watched that show but I'm conscious of the fact that very, very late in that series, all of a sudden this thing developed between David Hyde Pierce and the lady that brings Frasier his martinis. And I'm sure that wasn't something that they talked about at story camp the first day they started writing Frasier. I'm sure it's something that just sort of developed, and I think that's the way the audience likes it. Because they don't want to feel stupid when they watch TV, and they certainly don't want to feel like the people making TV think that they're stupid. Also, in real life, people like to hook their friends up with each other, say, "Oh, so-and-so is brokenhearted, I think he would be so great with so-and-so. We should get them on a date together." Everyone gets a big thrill out of that in their regular life. I mean, that stuff is best left organic and so I just move forward it one step at a time in almost every direction.
Are you happy with the chemistry between Britta and Jeff?
I'm happy with the lack of it. [Laughs.] What we're going to explore further in future episodes is the fact that the two of them, they're sort of equally petty. They're an equal level of immaturity in their lives. And it's nobody's right to say whether or not that makes them soul mates or just a couple of people that have kind of a friction with each other. But I like the fact that there is a dry, flinty thing that throws sparks between them, as opposed to cutesy tween relationships where people are giggling at each other across the room. I like jaded girls.
What about season two? A pickup for Community seems likely, but what kind of signals and code words have you heard from the powers that be?
I see that our score that never changes on TVbythenumbers.com turned green. [Laughs.] The reason it turned green is because they picked up Parks and Recreation, and it's like, well, so in other words, TV not so much by the numbers really. Just sort of TV by the same thing we all do it by, which is, every day is a new day, and we don't know what the hell is going to happen.
I'm as confident as you can possibly get about a renewal without actually, you know, being able to bet my grandma's life on it. We've done well. It's 8 p.m., we're a freshman show, and we open for a great night of comedy. I don't think that truly, truly fantastic shows that end up doing really well for everybody have a huge tradition of these meteoric first seasons where everybody goes, "Holy s--t!" I think more often than not, you have a straight, nice, solid, getting-your-traction first season and then over that break between two seasons, something changes.
I'm sort of looking at Arrested Development as a model. I think the show will sink to people's minds in a bit after this season. People will have that time to digest and buy a DVD or something and go, "Holy cow, this is a great show!" and be really excited for the second season and start growing that audience past a tipping point. The only way to be truly successful on 8 p.m. on a Thursday night is if you're, like, a cultural phenomenon. Either that, or we can continue to plug away and be very happy sort of holding down a great night. Maybe we'll get that jackpot if the critics start banging their drums hard enough over the summer.
Is there anything else you want the fans to know about the remaining first-season episodes of Community?
I want everyone to know that if they don't understand that it's possible to go to community college for four years. They should Google it. It happens all the time. There are bachelor's degree programs in community colleges all over the country! I mean, we could talk about a four-year shelf life, but I don't want anyone to keep talking about how community college is only two years long. Maybe for some characters it would be. Jeff Winger is there to get a four-year degree so...suck it and love it!
Want more Community romance? Check out the four video sneak peeks below:
Which Community pairing are you rooting for? Vote in the poll above and then hit the comments to tell us why!
Community airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
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