The first hurdle Harmon had to overcome was working with a writers room, something she had never done before. The network sitcom aspect of it all was challenging because it meant a lot of collaboration and not just Harmon putting his crazy ideas on paper. That means that while the first season of “Community” is great, it’s still a bit of a mess and tries to sort itself out. Harmon explained:
“I had to adjust to that fact, and you can see the first season of ‘Community’ has something of an identity crisis. Is it the next ‘Arrested Development’ or is it just ‘Malcolm in the Middle’? What the hell? is this show? You can see him fidgeting in his own sweater and having great moments and then weird moments and then having bouts of mediocrity.”
Both “Arrested Development” and “Malcolm in the Middle” had meta-humors and breaking the fourth wall, which helped establish some of what made “Community” so great, but “Community” took both a step further, directly interacting with sitcom tropes. with hilarious effect. How did Harmon figure out how to build on what worked and discard what didn’t? Well, he got a little help from some new writers who had a totally different perspective.