Dan Harmon is one those creators who is bound to the work wholeheartedly. Without Harmon, Community isn’t the same. What I mean is, when you watch Season 4 of Community it’s still Community but without its voice. It feels hollow. When he got fired from the show he decided to take his podcast Harmontown on tour, document it, and release it as a film.
If you don’t really know who Dan Harmon is, this documentary gives you the history of the writer. If you don’t know the controversy surrounding him and Chevy Chase, you’ll get that too. You’ll also get a very human side to a creator and that comes with all the dark side as well. This is part of Harmon’s charm. He’s an open book and he doesn’t mind if he may be the kind of book you don’t want to read or may not like. He doesn’t like taking showers, he’s probably an alcoholic, he’s a dick to his girlfriend, and he openly admits he leaves the tour having learned nothing.
That is essentially what I like about him, what his audience likes about him. If you know you can be a bad person, and openly admit your faults that may make you a bad person, does that mean you’re a bad person? Even if I believed deep down that Harmon was a bad person the fact that he doesn’t hide it softens the blow.
We watch him self-destruct and then when he’s done self-destructing he picks up the pieces and moves on. Harmon isn’t a rebel or subversive but openly criticizes the system he works in to make his money. His audience are people who feel like outsiders trying to become Dan Harmon or something like him. They want to work within the systems but feel as if they don’t belong in that system.
“Our mantra would always be make the shows you would want to see, and I think that really affected Dan’s work.” – Rob Schrab, director of The Lego Movie sequel.
That’s where Spencer comes in. Spencer is one of those audience members who stayed true to himself, and Harmon plucked him from the audience to become his dungeon master in live D&D games. Spencer is the hero of the documentary, and Harmon openly admits that.
Harmontown is crude, silly, dark, sad, uplifting, and pretty funny. It’s worth a watch if you’re a writer. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of Community. It’s worth a watch if you even if you just like to watch someone implode then try to reconstruct themselves.