But if “Community” should reach those far-flung milestones, it will have to do so with out its creator, Dan Harmon, who on Friday night was let go as the show runner of the series.
The news that the sitcom's creator, Dan Harmon, was being replaced as "show runner" will no doubt be a blow to the show's rabid (if relatively small) fan base.
The Word Fairy
The term “showrunner” has become so pervasive in Internet television discussion that it’s easy to forget it only entered the public consciousness in the last decade. (I trace its prominence to the 1999 book The Showrunners, by David Wild, which is most famous for following NewsRadio creator Paul Simms around for the show’s fourth season, when it seemed as if NBC might yank it at any moment.) Since there’s been some confusion over the showrunner’s role on the show as this Harmon situation has unfolded, let me define it: A showrunner is an executive producer and head writer of a program. In some cases, series will split showrunner duties between someone who handles day-to-day production details and someone who handles the writers’ room, particularly in cases where a first-time showrunner is in charge. But the showrunner is as important to a series as a director is to a film set. Regardless of who has script credit, the showrunner took a pass at that script. Regardless of who directed that episode, the showrunner is the ultimate arbiter of the series’ visual style. Every aspect of the production will bear the showrunner’s stamp in one way or another, and if he or she isn’t happy with, say, a set design, that will be changed. It’s an immensely powerful role, and in the struggle to develop something of an auteur theory for television, the showrunner has been the most frequently examined figure.