Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dan Harmon: A Functional On the Rocks-ic

NBC's Community has fast become one of my favorite shows on television. Last year I wrote a post here featuring a YouTube clip of “The Breakfast Club” homage that two of the main characters performed while shitfaced on vodka [unfortunately that particular clip was pulled from YouTube due to a copyright complaint by NBC; NBC hasn’t made the clip available via their website, though, which leaves me high and (ironically) dry]. Much like its brilliance, it appears that the sitcom's taste for drinking is also inherited from its creator and executive producer, Dan Harmon. In the second installment of a large, four-part examination of Community’s second season by A.V. Club, Harmon reveals his own fondness of alcoholic pursuits. Discussion of the season’s 10th episode, “Mixology Certification”, begins with the following exchange.
AVC: This one ended up being surprisingly controversial. For a lot of our commenters, it wasn’t funny enough and was too depressing.

DH: And [they said] it felt like an anti-drinking message somehow in there. There’s no bigger drunk than me. I’m drinking a glass of vodka while I talk to you about this. I’m not Trey Parker. I don’t wanna just assume that the way I live my life and the things that I believe need to be somehow imparted to people. That’s easier with Trey because he’s a libertarian, and his views are more neutral. I can’t get away with that, because my views are left of Chomsky, and my habits are left of Belushi. I can’t just suggest that America get into what I’m into. So in an episode about everybody getting shit-faced, I was the one going, “Let’s not glamorize it. Let’s make sure that if you don’t drink, you walk away from the episode not thinking maybe you’re missing something.” [Laughs.] But at the same time, if you do, you’re going, “Finally, an episode for me.”
That, my friends, is what you call a breath of fresh air. I’d have to believe, if I were ever in such a position of success as a writer and producer and giving a lengthy and very involved interview, that I, too, would have a glass of the good stuff in my hand as I talked with the interviewer.

There is often a misperception floated in our society: If you’re a drinker, you’re a slacker. You’re a loser; an unproductive lump of flesh that never creates, only uses and destroys. This misguided deconstruction is one of my biggest pet peeves. And, as you might expect, I’ve had to deal with it on a personal level a time or two (see my disclaimer at the end of this Jan. 2010 write). Some people don't want to accept that there is such a thing as the happy medium in life. Everything they see must fall into either one extreme or the other. And, more often than not, they paint any person, place, and thing that doesn’t land on their side of the fence in ugly, undesirable tones. It’s a xenophobic and counterintuitive practice.

The fact of the matter is, many of the people whose stories I bring you on this page are anything but losers. Esq is a brilliant young lawyer at one of the nation’s top firms. Dupa has, in a very short amount of time, shot up through the ranks at the very large corporation where he works to become one of its youngest senior managers ever. BlahBlahBlah has thrived for several years now as a financial advisor. I have friends who are local TV news personalities, employees of high-profile federal agencies, homemakers, federal law enforcement agents, and CEOs, all of whom have seen their anecdotes come to life at On the Rocks at one time or another. My prolific use of aliases is the respectful offspring of this fact. These are people with a whole lot to lose if the world was to learn that it was them who were passing out drunk on barstools or having one night stands with random women at weddings.

Harmon is just like them, and he’s just like me. He’s one of us. He occupies that world of the happy medium. A place where having drinks at the end of the day doesn’t qualify you as a degenerate alcoholic; where being successful doesn’t preclude you from having fun. He’s an On the Rocks spirit: Someone who works and plays hard.

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