New ‘Community’ producers Moses Port and David Guarascio preview season 4

02.06.13 4 years ago 53 Comments

NBC

In succeeding “Community” creator Dan Harmon as showrunners of the NBC comedy, Moses Port and David Guarascio have been placed in a trickier position than most TV producers. First, it”s not often that a writer as singularly associated with a show as Harmon was with “Community” leaves it, whether voluntarily or because they were fired. Second, when it”s happened in the past with shows like “NYPD Blue” post-Milch, “The West Wing” post-Sorkin and “Gilmore Girls” post-Sherman-Palladino, the replacements have tended to be people who had already been working on the show and watching the creator at work. Port and Guarascio are comedy veterans who most recently worked on ABC”s “Happy Endings,” but their only prior affiliation with “Community” was as viewers of the show.
I spoke with them back in October, when “Community” was supposed to debut on October 19 in a new Friday timeslot. Instead, it was held until tomorrow night, when it”ll be back in its familiary Thursday at 8 p.m. berth for a 13-episode fourth season that Port and Guarascio believe has a good chance of not being the end of the series.
When I was in LA last month, I sat down with them for an expansive discussion about the challenges of stepping in for Harmon, their reaction to Chevy Chase”s abrupt exit late in the season (and how the show will deal with it), their take on where most of the characters are heading into season 4, their reaction to getting their very own Twitter spoof account, and a lot more.
I”ll have a review of the new season published either later today or first thing tomorrow.
Everything”s been shot, but what”s left to do on the season?
David Guarascio: Just editing, just post.And we are more than halfway through that process. We’ve seen cuts of everything but a few of the episodes. It”s like end of second semester, senior year, right now as far as we”re concerned.
So when you”re this close to the finish line, how has this experience been overall?
David Guarascio: Working on the show was great and just as much fun as we”d hoped it would be. It’s been weird not having it air. So there”s a little bit of that. You still feel like slightly you”re in a suspended animation waiting for that. It would”ve been nice to have been making them also while they”re airing.   But at the same time were happy they”re airing at all ’cause a little bit of that, did it really happened? Right. If no one ever sees the episode, was it really made? Those kind of existential question start to happen after a while.
Bill Lawrence has said that in those years when NBC would hold “Scrubs” until mid-season. He said they would always start to get really weird because they were getting no feedback, so they were just amusing themselves. Was there any sort of change like that for you? What episode were you on when they announced that it was going to be not October 19?
Moses Port: It must”ve been at the beginning of October.
David Guarascio: Which means what though like (episode) five or six?
Moses Port: I guess so.
So was there any kind of noticeable change in what you were doing after that?
Moses Port: No, I don”t think so.  The show was something where we”re able to do some fairly weird things relative to other TV shows to begin with. So it didn”t really affect our trajectory whatsoever. It just think there”s a little bit of anxiety still for everyone of how will it be received? It”s still the big changes, the verdict is, you know, the jury is still out and so everybody”s kind of twiddling their thumbs a little bit.
You guys are in this interesting position in that it”s not a regular show being held until mid-season, it”s this special show under this unusual circumstance.
David Guarascio: Yeah. I think if the show had aired while we were doing it, it would have just been easier. Just one way or the other, even if you”re doing it wrong you can course correct. If you”re doing it right, everyone”s like, “Yeah we”re doing it right.”
Moses Port: Normally, it’s like the anticipation is more anxiety inducing than the actual event. So it would be nice to have aired just to clear that hurdle. For example, we knew in advance of our Christmas episode that we were not going to be airing in Christmas. And we were like, “Well, fuck it; we”re still doing our Christmas episode.” And at that point maybe the network in the studio where at first encouraging us to not do a Christmas episode. Well we did a Halloween and we did a Thanksgiving, so what”s the harm really? And its one of those funny things you know you see cable shows do it all the time. So we might as well just do a Christmas episode; it”s in the middle of summer all the time. The audience does not care. They”re willing to suspend their disbelief that it”s not actually December 25, even though they’re watching it being portrayed in that time period.
David Guarascio: Hopefully, they won”t hold it off until next Christmas. That would be their final vengeance.
Initially, the order was for 13 (episodes). But I have to assume when you took the job you were at least sort of thinking, “Well maybe we might get a back 9.” That just can”t logistically happen now. Was there ever a point when you were breaking the story where you were thinking, “Well what do we do if it”s 13 and then what we do if it”s 22?”
Moses Port: All the way through. It wasn”t until late that we heard for sure.
David Guarascio: I think we sort of intuitively knew it was looking more and more like 13 once they pushed the airdate. But there was a big like scuttlebutt that we might get three or four more episodes at one point. And at that point we really planned our finale and how we get there.
Moses Port: So we were just probably would”ve slotted in a couple of more clearly standalone. And they were all standalone in their own way, of course.
David Guarascio: The show has been through that before I think in season 2, they, you know, they ended up getting 24 or 25 they made.
I think it was season 1 where that happened.
David Guarascio: Yeah, so they ended up making a few episodes that turned out to be very memorable episodes. So we were looking forward just for that thing like, “Oh, that’ll be fun like, and now you can really do whatever you want because they”re telling you so late. And everyone knows you”re up against it.” You know what? I think also the feeling early on was maybe just because of the show”s history, knowing it almost didn”t get renewed, that 13 was going to be the most likely thing. And so the internal discussions were always is it more likely to get a back 9 or a season 5? And I think we always contended more likely for a season 5. So we”re half true.

And the finale was actually shot as the eleventh episode, right?
David Guarascio: Yes.
How and why did that happen?
David Guarascio: You know, it just sometimes you”re just going, we knew what we wanted to do for the finale a little sooner. And we went through some like re-story breaking on one of the episodes. 
Moses Port: It was production thing.
David Guarascio: Yeah, it was a production thing of…
Moses Port: The 13th.

But given that you filmed the finale first with Chevy and then you had to do other stuff without him, how much did that complicate your lives for those last one or two?

Moses Port: It complicated it a little bit, but not crushingly so.  He wasn”t so integral to the story that it affected major changes. So we were able to sort of really keep them intact.
David Guarascio: One story we are able to seamlessly take him out and put Ken Jeong in it. And it worked character-wise for the story.
So it”s not like you have another actor playing Pierce in these or something.
David Guarascio: No.
It”s just Pierce is not in them.
David Guarascio: But he”s also in them because we sort of shot him out in some things even though he was no longer here at some point in time. And it was part of the mutual parting of the ways: we needed stuff from him and we got it.
But you”re already coming into this fraught situation and then on top of that, Chevy leaves. What’s your reaction at that point to it?
Moses Port: To seem par for the course.
David Guarascio:  Yeah. It seems like it made sense somehow that it would go down that way. I mean everything from the first three years that we weren”t involved with somehow it seems like, of course he and Dan leave both through the same season.
Moses Port: I”ll say this: it was unfortunate, but the work he did, he was great this year. He was really funny. Then we got everything we wanted from him. It was actually, it was…
David Guarascio: For us, he was very easy to work with.
Moses Port: Yeah, he did really well this year.
Let”s start with Pierce then, because I wanted to get your takes both when you started the job and then by the end of the season of what role you feel each of the characters plays on the show. So what was Pierce’s role on the show and in the group as far as you were concerned?
David Guarascio: I mean, they”re not that different from fiction and real life, and that”s what Dan really established so well. And always being able to mine what”s going on in the outside reality show and put it into this sort of fictional reality of the show. So there was always something about Pierce and Chevy that feels related to everything else that”s going on. Him and what”s going around. So for that reason it”s kind of like he”s the most modular piece – you could end up not having him in there and not feeling like the chemistry has been changed as much, just because of the way he related to everyone both in real life and the way the character”s written in to the show.
What role did you see Shirley having in here?
David Guarascio: I think that she was already predetermined to be focused on her business. It was tougher, a little more narrow from that perspective. Yvette is a very funny actress and it really is an ensemble in that way, so most scenes even if it”s about one person they all are invested in each other”s stories. 
Moses Port: I think maybe because her character also evolved more and matured more. She started with a greater level of maturity than everybody else, and came into this season with more of that. If you think of where the character”s been from the pilot – divorced, lost, no job really – to where she is at the end of season 3 – back together with her husband in a loving relationship, has a small business that”s working. So she”s just more set, and that was the cool way that all the characters evolved at their own pace and mature at their own pace. That allowed her to be a little bit more of a voice of wisdom this year then maybe she could be. She had real evidence behind everything that she said, because her life is working in a way that everyone else has sort of at least realized they wanted to be their goal to be that way as well.
Dan at the end of last season put all the characters in a place where if the show had ended there you would”ve felt, “Okay, well that”s an ending for a lot of them.” And you said it was a challenge with Shirley. Was it tough with any of the others? Troy grew up by the end of season three; he wasn”t like the boy anymore.
David Guarascio: Yes.
So how did you approach writing him this year?
David Guarascio: We were looking that maturation without wanting to really negatively affect the relationship with Abed, because one of the souls of the show is that relationship. It”s so pure and its just joy, so the next step in his evolvement as a man really was to be in a romantic relationship and feel like that. It”s something the shows earned over time.  And not feel like we”re just doing it for story”s sake. But there”s someone in the group other than Jeff that can be in a romantic entanglement. And the show had always tapped on that a little bit now and then, so we just found it was time to bring him and Britta to a very clear place. At the end of last year was a little bit like is there something there or isn”t something there?
Moses Port: It felt like he put them in motion though, it felt like we had to address that. I mean, you”re right; they could of ended the series there but there were other things like the search for Jeff”s father, those two being together, that were certain markers that seemed an inevitability for this season.

All right. So let”s just then jump straight to Britta. She”s the worst.
David Guarascio: Yes.
Beyond her being the worst at everything, where does she fit in?
David Guarascio: It”s the old dead cat bounce. Once you really bottom out as the worst, you”re going to bounce up to something, right? So in finding her worstness, we used it for her to somehow have great victories this year. But she always gets to where she”s going in a very Britta like fashion, which is never in a straight line. But we did find its interesting to have Jeff in a place where he’s maybe really opened up enough to use some help from somebody, which he’s never been able to do emotionally. And that she would be the one that he would get it from, at the same time that she”s in this relationship with Troy. So without making it a real triangle the way we”ve traditionally seen, to still find there’s something emotionally going on between the three of them. So in that sense she really evolves from her worstness to sort of providing the best help she really could at any point during her life in the show.
Moses Port: It also seems like even though she’s the worst, there’s always been like an emotional truth to her. It seems right that she does have some of the right answers, she may go about it the wrong way but that her thoughts and ideas about things actually are crucial to helping Jeff. She actually can see things right, even though she’s so filled up with herself about being a therapist. 
David Guarascio: And that something we definitely wanted to dimensionalize that character. What happens in a show, the more a show goes on it get in danger of being more and more one note about their characters and the worse gets worse, and worse, and worse. And then it”s just only that. And then you”ve lost their dimensionality. So giving her some of those victories and having her be a little more integral in to fixing some of the problems around her seemed like a good way to do it.
When you guys were just viewers of the show well before this happened, early on there was the different triangle, which was Jeff and Britta and Annie. And for a while the show was clearly pushing Jeff and Britta and then suddenly they realized with Joel and Alison together, there’s something there. What were your thoughts on that and like did you have a preference at the time?
Moses Port: I did, yeah.
David Guarascio: I was surprised by how invested I was in Jeff and Britta.  I really actually cared about that relationship. I felt it was one of the most remarkable things that Dan did with the show: as funny and absurd as it could be, I was genuinely invested in that relationship and those characters. So I was definitely rooting for that relationship when it came on.
Moses Port: And what was eye opening coming to the show is knowing how divided the writing staff was about who Jeff should be with.Because there are people who absolutely felt like Britta should be who Jeff is with and people feel like it”s really that Alison Brie should be who Joel’s with. Which is why it was fun to write to. That”s why the constant tension is there, it’s like there”s people constantly gaining ground and losing ground. It”s kind of like that navigation on the writing staff. What”s the best way to go? Helps kind of create that tension in the show.
There”s been some debate among the fans about whether after the Dreamatorium episode last year, Annie finally let go of whatever feelings she had for Jeff. Has she?
David Guarascio: No.
So let”s talk Annie then. What role is she filling in all of this?
David Guarascio: I guess what I just said is that was no way near over. And this year is about addressing it much more head-on.And still trying to navigate, you know, what her relationship is vis-à-vis Jeff and some of the characters. Britta has this too where she”s really sort of finding more her niche at the college. Annie does as well. And so what”s empowering for them is finding the thing of like, “Okay, I came here for one reason but maybe that”s changed now and I”m actually going to be here for a different reason. Which is going to inform where I”m going the rest of my life.” So there”s that personal growth both with her and Jeff, and part of maturity is accepting what it really is and what it really isn”t. And that doesn”t necessarily happen in just one step. You know we”ve all been in relationships where you”re sure: “I know this is over and this is done and I appreciate it for what it is.” And then a month later, something happens that could be very small that just triggers you again. And those things are just hard to turn off.
 
And Abed is Abed. Is there anything different about Abed in this season?
Moses Port: I don”t know about different but certainly what he”s facing is, is the end of school going to be the end of them? Someone who”s going to have trouble with change.There”s a lot at stake for him in the fourth year of college.
David Guarascio: And at the same time he faced so many demons last year as a character, to the point where he was literally willing to cut off Jeff”s arm, that we didn”t want to do that again. So while this specter of change and how it affects Abed is always there, maybe the surprise to the year is that he”s dealing with it better than some of the other people around him, because he”s just kind of faced it already in his own very Abed-like fashion through the first few years, particularly last year.

And in that finale last year, Jeff more than anybody made peace with all of this. It wasn”t just, “I”m okay being here,” but “I”m actually happier being here than I was in my old life.” So when a character reaches that point, what do you do with him?
 
David Guarascio: Yeah, that was a tough one; that was hard. That”s the thing about doing episodes that you want to be season enders, but could be series enders. Jeff being that position, Chang trying to murder everybody, these were things to deal with creatively. For Jeff, it”s a little bit of a –
Moses Port: Personal journey.
David Guarascio: Yes, it”s the personal journey of this theme that”s been out there, what set up in the finale from last year of his father, what that means for him. Are you defined by the journey or defined by the relationship? What happens when that”s done? And also what happens when you come to that place of understanding that he does at the end of season 3 and then realize, now it”s actually ending. You may feel very comfortable in your college environment and whatever that may be but it actually doesn”t last forever. So what does it mean for you and how do you handle that as you see that approaching end? And some of that really is as much about next year perhaps, and maybe I”m tipping a little bit of where we go this year, but we”ve always said we want to be true to the fact that this is college and it can”t last forever for everybody. Because of the kind of college it is, it allows everyone to take courses at their own rate. Doesn”t mean were all graduating on the same day. You do need to move people on to be true to what the show is and that reality.
So you have plans in mind for a fifth season if a fifth season happens?
David Guarascio: We have – yes, we are ready to approach a fifth season if it should come. The finale is not something that should suggest that the show is over. Even though, if God forbid, the worst thing happens, we feel like we have a finale would be a great way to go out.
 
And being in this vacuum all this time, are you more confident now, less confident, the same in terms of whether it continues?
David Guarascio: More confident. I would make the bet now that there is a season five.
Moses Port: And I would make the bet with him.
Okay.
David Guarascio: And I would take it from two angles. One is I think the show holds up as being, this is still “Community” and it”s still a funny and neat show with great characters and we”re telling interesting stories. And I think there will continue to be an audience for it. Two, frankly the bar for how much of an audience you need seems to get slightly lower every year, which helps returning shows in particular. And the network is losing two shows next year. They’re losing “The Office” and they’re losing “30 Rock,” so just from a business standpoint, and no one’s paying us to think about it this way, but I just think they’re going to want something that has some familiarity to it. Because with development, you”ve got 15 hits on your hand in January and then in May you have a couple and then in October you have one or zero. And something that has been on the air, that has an audience and has a loyal following, you”re going to want in your corner. And I think this show can do that.
And being held until February and back in the old timeslot was probably ultimately better for you than if you debuted October 19 on a Friday; that”s a better night and other things have had more time to show NBC what they’re doing and where the bar should actually realistically be set.
Moses Port: There”s something about that that feels like just might be true. It”s just airing in February, doing almost 13 straight. We”ll have a couple reruns in the middle, hopefully keep our momentum going as we get going and…
David Guarascio: Yeah, it”s tough to tell. There was a period of time where it seemed like (losing) October 19 was the loss of that. Somehow it was even worse than not being on the beginning of the fall. It was like, “It seems right to be this show to be on a Friday.” Somehow I”d talked myself into that being the perfect time period. 
Moses Port: Being on Community is really a matter of continually talking yourself into the idea that whatever obstacle has been put in front of you is really for the best, and you”re going to make it work.
When we talked back in the fall, one of the things you said was it”s different coming in to a show that somebody else has been doing for a while, but you also had three years worth of being able to see what Donald can do, what Alison can do. You don”t have to go through that learning curve where you”re figuring out strengths and weaknesses. How much of an advantage was that and was it just easy to always say, “In case of failure have Donald cry,” something like that?
David Guarascio: I mean, it”s an advantage because the show found its voice and both the writers who”ve returned and the new writers (knew it). Because every new writer loved the show and this is everyone’s favorite show. Among writers, this is not always but often one of their favorite shows. And certainly everybody who came to work on it, they knew the show inside and out. And of course, the cast that knows their voice of their characters, backwards and forwards, That what the part that made it easier. For everything that”s easier about it there was an obstacle on the other side.
So what were some of the things that were harder then about doing this?
David Guarascio: I think the collective anxiety of not having your leader (Harmon) anymore was the biggest thing. And the reason why that”s hardest to deal with is there”s no tangible thing you can do. All of this is faith.  And then seeing the material and getting it and trusting it, that is a hurdle to get by. Sometimes you could go through the beginning and you could be on a run on a few good episodes and then we can hit one that we find something hinky in, which happens every year on every show including this one. I think everyone always thought, “Well there”s a little bit wrong, but Dan will figure it out,” but he”s not here. So then what happens, the rest of us (have to).
Moses Port: One of the bigger challenges of what we”re talking about before is where Dan left it at the end of season 3. First off the challenge of coming in, even though there is a voice, it already had three years of storytelling. You”ve used up three years of stories and they”ve been great stories. Memorable stories. It”s not like people are going to like, “Oh, I forgot they did that.” They will remember – especially with these fans. And the idea that we left Chang as a psychotic, we had to come back from some of these things.
David Guarascio: It really did seem like there was some finality to that end of year where Jeff was, or Chang. Making it something organic, believable, without just saying, “Oh, we’re not even going to think about that.” That was difficult.

As an outsider, you can look at “Community” and say, “Alright, this is the show were they do the pop culture pastiche, and we”re going to do an episode that”s a parody of ‘Hunger Games.”” What is it that separates it beyond the level of what a “Community” fan fiction writer could do versus what actually makes it “Community”?
David Guarascio: Well, for starters, we never approach it that way.  I understand why it will often look that way like, “Oh, that”s a popular movie; let”s do that this week.” But we never really think of it that way. We”re always thinking about the characters first and what they”re going through. What emotional situations are we putting them in that they might be reacting to in a funny way. All those other things get layered on afterwards, and I think in that sense the trickiest thing about the show is that the show is so self-aware, and when you”re self-aware you can lose your emotional footing. The show manages not to do that, in our view. So it”s threading that needle. It”s being completely self-aware, which is essentially a detached kind of idea and then still feeling like you have real emotional moments. And you”re connecting to the characters because you empathize with them. And it”s just walking on that high wire is the trickiest is part about the shot.
So with the premiere, at what stage did you decide this would be a “Hunger Games” parody?
Moses Port: That was the first thing we thought of. No, I”m kidding.
David Guarascio: Well we knew that we wanted to do an episode that was the first thing was reflective of the outside change in the show. Not that we wanted it to be about that, but we knew that we wanted the fact that there”s a big change going on creatively, should somehow be in the DNA of the episode. And we knew that part of that change is that this is kind of senior year. Which is where change becomes to be an issue for some people.
Moses Port: That would affect Abed.
David Guarascio: Yes.
Moses Port: Considerably.
David Guarascio: And then also how it would affect Jeff, because he wants to be there, but he also knows that he can”t be forever and how he”s trying to walk that line. And also there”s something in the way that the Dean as a character has evolved overtime and become more and more and part of the group. He”s just thinking how everyone’s reacting to Jeff leaving. It could be a fracture in the group entirely and a whole thing can fall apart. And for the Dean it”s a very personal relationship that he has with Jeff, and an attachment. And the notion that he would put obstacles in front of this happening, it”s kind of where the notion of the “Hunger Dean” started to come around. You know, it”s funny because at some point after doing it, we’re like, “We can stop calling this ‘Hunger Games,” because it”s really not at all like the ‘Hunger Games” in many ways.” But the notion that the Dean would latch onto that as a pop-culture reference in his world would explain why he wants everyone competing. And because that would allow him to put pageantry into it, it all made perfect sense as opposed to us wanting to poke fun at ‘The Hunger Games,” which we really don”t at all in the episode. So it”s, that”s kind of the stew into which it kind of comes about, that it came about.
You”ve talked before about some of the anxiety of coming in, and the leader isn”t there anymore. Obviously, from the outside, there”s been a lot of skepticism.  I don”t know if you”re aware of the fake @GuarascioPort Twitter account. What do you think of that?
David Guarascio: Someone told us about it early on and I looked at that and was like, “More power to you; go at it,” and haven”t really thought much about it since. We made a conscious decision early on. Right when the news came out, we did not realize what it, in the universe – in the Communiverse -how big a deal it would be. I mean, we knew it was a big deal but in a digital world everything is a storm the moment it happens. And it was very quickly easy to decide, “You know what? I don’t have to read comments about anything.” The other sort of eye-opener, and it seems sort of obvious in hindsight, is that Dan deserves the lion share of credit for what the show is. But the truth is he”s not the person who”s being filmed. There is a bunch of actors who give the dimensionality to these characters” lives. And not to mention directors, set designers, and the writing staff that”s been with the show for three years, and the ones that came back that have helped make it. And then there”s a little bit of that realization of like right this isn”t just one person in their basement with their clay and their three-dimensional models sitting with the light on above them.  This is a hundred people making something together. And so it helped everybody, helped us relax. It was almost like you remind people of that. You actually helped create this character and you were the one who gave it life. You say to Gillian, “When people think of Britta they think of you; they don”t think of anybody else. They don”t think of a writer.” They don”t think about all the writers who contributed over the years, many of them came back this year, who know what the DNA of the show is and who helped inform what it is. There is this sort of Catch-22 of there was a leader who”s gone but there are many other people who are extremely talented who help make the show what it is.

I remember when you guys did the Comic-Con panel, I was in the back of the room and at the start of it, I was thinking, “I don”t know how this is going to go. Is the audience Q&A just going to be 20 minutes of people yelling at the two of you?” And instead, you were basically irrelevant; it was just, “Danny, we love you; Joel, we love you; Gillian, we love you.”
David Guarascio: Yeah. As a writer, you tend to know that with the evolution of a TV show, in the beginning that writer/creator is most important. But at some point, it”s you walking and talking on its own a little bit also, this baby that you created. And it takes on a life of it”s own. And the thing that”s unique about this of course is the fans are so informed about walking and talking over time because there was this immediate dialogue with the fans: what they liked and what they didn”t like was consciously and unconsciously informing decisions that are made in the writers room.
Moses Port: That spoof of us was the first moment – I mean, we”ve been fans of the show and knew and understood that it was a rabid fan base. I don”t think until that moment I had an idea what the fan base was really like. Seeing that, my wife looked at me, like “Holy shit.” It was just this crazy group, like it is its own entity, like nothing else I”ve ever been around. That was a little bit of a – I don”t want to say wake up call but it was just an introduction to realizing this is a different set of group of fans. They have more passion about this than anything I”ve ever been a part of.
So given that they haven”t seen the episodes, you haven”t been able to do it the way Dan did in the early seasons where people were watching and he was taking feedback from that. What responses were you getting from them in the early stages that wound up informing what you did? What were you hearing and seeing that made you say, “Okay, we”ll try that”?
Moses Port: Pretty early on, we weren”t having a direct dialogue, but I think just that Comic-Con was a nice moment, for instance, when we mentioned the “Inspector Spacetime” episode. We knew we were on the right path, that was nice, feeling such a big reaction from that group of 5,000 people, because that had been a big argument, a big discussion with the network and studio, them not wanting to go there and us feeling like we really want to do this. It just felt validating.
David Guarascio: Even though Dan had a dialogue with the fans, I can’t imagine him – Who knows? He could probably answer it better than me, because I don”t actually know him – but I”m sure the fans love of the show and reaction to the show can”t help but, in an osmosis kind of way, inform some creative decisions and stuff. But how it directly affects it is kind of hard to say. I don’t know if that”s been there necessarily.
Moses Port: My understanding of it from when it was on the air, it would be like, “Here”s what we like,” or, during the episode, “We love this!” You could tell that moments seem to work or not work, or liking this relationship or not. Even still, I can”t imagine that anyone was like, “Well, the fans like it so we”re going to do, it was never that conscious.
But just as an example, I think Dan was very aware that people really didn”t like Britta and that whatever was in his head about who the character was supposed to be, it wasn”t coming across. So then he steered into it and said, “Alright, she”s the worst and that”s the joke now.”
David Guarascio: That”s true.
Do you feel like for those people who are acutely aware of the behind-the-scenes stuff, maybe you”re going to be held to an unfair standard? Like, even if the show was exactly the same as a Dan episode, people are going to be like, “Ah, they’re just imitating Dan. It”s missing something.”
David Guarascio: Yes.
Moses Port: For some people.
David Guarascio: There are some people I”m sure who, for them, the show”s done and it”ll never be the same, and they didn”t want to change in that. It”s the way we are as humans – we’re aware of all the information and we don”t always know how that affects our perception. And we often wondered if we had Dan write the premiere, and if he wanted to and if he did that and we shot it and aired it, I”m sure there”d be some people saying, “This blows. This is nothing that would of happened before.” It”s just inevitable that would happen.
Moses Port: If they didn”t know he wrote the premiere.
David Guarascio: If he ghostwrote every episode, there’d be people who do not like it, yes. And the truth is, even season 1, season 2, season 3 are different from each other. They are held together because it”s the same cast, same people, but the show grew and changed. Hopefully this will be another step in that but it will be different than any other – every year that was before, even with Dan, was different.
You said that when you went in, you weren”t maybe quite aware of the nature of this particular fandom. If you had known that, if you had known like that the show was going to wind up in limbo until February, if you had known Chevy was going to leave, if you had known all the issues you were going to be dealing with, do you think you still would have taken this job?
David Guarascio: Oh, definitely, yeah, yeah. I mean, it”s been an unbelievable year.
Moses Port: It”s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
David Guarascio: It”s really been that way and so I feel nothing but lucky for the opportunity.
Moses Port: We were big fans of the show and we thought we were fortunate to have been asked to do it. But we said no a couple times. I don”t think we would of said no the first time – we realize how fortunate we are to have been (given this job)
What was the reticence that led to the first couple of no”s?
Port & Guarascio, simultaneous: All of the things we just talked about!
David Guarascio: Yes. Just a little bit of, “Why do you want to mess it up?” We said all the things that the fan said we said at some point.
Moses Port: In the first breaking down of it, it just seemed like a lose/lose, and obviously now we look at it as a win/win.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com

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