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Harmontown SXSW 2014 Review

On 09, Mar 2014 | In Press & News | By SBI

We all know our own flaws, but change can be so devastatingly difficult to accomplish that it can haunt some people. Whether it is alcoholism or other kinds of abuse, or even the mundane like picking your nose or biting your fingernails, we all struggle to turn that leaf. Dan Harmon, creator — and some say, genius — behind Community and numerous other programs (a handful of which never even made it on air) is the focus of a new documentary called Harmontown.

That name may garner a reaction from fans of the talent, as it’s also the moniker for Harmon’s podcast, one he created when he was eventually fired from Community after its third season. Producer/director Neil Berkeley follows Harmon and three others, his girlfriend and merchandise seller Erin McGathy, dungeon master Spencer Crittenden, and co-host Jeff B. Davis as they take the podcast on the road. What follows is about as enlightening of a documentary on a neurotic, controlling, wickedly intelligent mind as one could hope.

To begin, I’m an avid fan of Community; it’s unlike anything else on TV. While the ratings weren’t great, the critical praise was through the roof. Sadly, as Donald Glover points out duringHarmontown, ultimately it is a business. If you don’t have the ratings to justify the cost, you’re likely on the chopping block. And that’s exactly where Community was and still is to this day. I’ve been intrigued by the various feuding headlines that surround Harmon. Whether it’s firing shots at NBC after letting him go as showrunner from his own show or spats with Chevy Chase, there always seemed to be something of a firework aspect to Harmon: he was always ready to go off. So, a documentary focused solely on him where his loose-cannon aspect was both celebrated and skewered was definitely enticing.

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