It’s no secret that Dan Harmon, creator and producer of NBC’s Community, isn’t a fan of Glee. However ironic that might be for a comedy writer, season after season Harmon brings back Greendale Community College’s Glee Club, a not-so-subtle parody on the 2009 Fox television series. Following Glee’s Emmy nominations in 2011 – the height of the series’ popularity – he joked, “I’m just glad Glee finally got some recognition… I think an Outstanding Comedy Series nomination will finally give them the boost they need to keep it on the air.”
The Glee Club’s first appearance in Community can be found in season 1, episode 23, “Modern Warfare,” Community’s renowned paintball episode, after which it becomes a running spoof – perhaps due to the episode’s widespread popularity. Over the course of seasons 1 through 3, Harmon continues to inflate and exaggerate the Glee Club joke, making clear just how intolerable he finds Glee. As the bit progresses, it becomes more and more on the nose, satirizing the aspects of the series that Harmon finds to be self-indulgent or perhaps tacky.
In “Modern Warfare,” the study group is ambushed by the Glee Club in a school-wide paintball game. After they take out Troy, the echo of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” can be heard across the quad. Community‘s Annie and Jeff both react – Annie blowing her cover to announce that their choice is “uninspired” as Jeff announces that the Glee Club should “Write some original songs!” In season 2, episode 20, “Paradigms of Human Memory,” the group reminisces on the past semester. After finding a Glee Club trophy, they recount the story of how they covered for the Glee Club after they died in a bus crash. A flashback scene shows everyone taking part in an overly dramatic musical number. Annie and Troy sing to each other, their faces awkwardly close, as Shirley literally sings the word “sing” over and over.
However, Community season 3, episode 10, “Regional Holiday Music,” goes all in on the joke, even creating a laughable, crazy caricature of Glee’s Will Schuester. When Jeff helps shut down Greendale’s Glee Club, the club members break into a “collective nervous breakdown,” leaving no one in the club to perform at the community college Christmas pageant. Mr. Rad, Community’s Schuester, slowly lures each study group member into the club using musical numbers until it is revealed that he caused the bus crash in season 2. As he escapes, he yells “Look, Kings of Leon!,” a shot at the fact that the band rejected an offer to have their music performed in Glee. Pointing to Glee’s overly dramatic story elements, Jeff notes, “It’s been a dark semester. I basically killed a guy,” when the group is reunited to celebrate the holidays.
Why Dan Harmon Hated Glee So Much
It’s clear that Community is inspired by Harmon’s own life – his individual creative influence is deeply rooted in the show’s existence and what it chooses to focus on. Harmon himself attended a community college where he made an unlikely group of friends, thus, the series’ negative outlook on Glee is no exception to the connection between creator and series. Harmon felt that Glee might not have deserved the amount of praise it received, openly sharing that he felt Community deserved more recognition. Responding to some fans on Reddit, Harmon exaggerated the details of the Glee Club bus crash, adding sarcastically, “I would never be that petty and envious of another show’s popularity.”
However Harmon has chosen to address Glee, this overly-dramatic, meta, satirical sense of humor, especially in these episodes, is characteristic of Community’s sense of humor across the board. Fans of the series are getting excited again following the recent announcement of Community’s …And A Movie. It’s not yet clear what characters and subplots will be making a return to the world of Greendale. However, it’s entirely possible the Glee Club could reappear.
Next: Every Character & Actor Returning For The Community Movie