Mega Dan Harmon interview, part 3: ‘Rick and Morty’

Welcome to the third and concluding portion of the long interview I did with Dan Harmon a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles. In part 1, Harmon discussed the initial process of his return to “Community” and the beginning and end of his feud with Chevy Chase. In part 2, he talked about some of the specific goals of “Community” season 5 and the non-impossibility of a season 6 (and a movie).

In part 3, our focus mostly shifts away from “Community” to deal with Harmon”s other show of the moment, the Adult Swim animated sci-fi comedy “Rick and Morty,” a kind of dark, twisted spin on the Doc Brown/Marty McFly relationship from “Back to the Future,” only where Rick is an alcoholic sociopath and Morty is the learning disabled grandson he takes horrific advantage of. (I reviewed it earlier this year.) We talk at times about the differences and similarities between the two shows, and at the end Harmon discusses the weird vagaries of a TV business that looks at these two shows with similar ratings and considers “Rick and Morty” a big success and “Community” an NBC charity case. As with the previous parts, Harmon has much to say on every subject.

One thing I should note: if there was not ample evidence (including video) that Justin Roiland is a man who exists and both co-created “Rick and Morty” and voices the title characters, I would have assumed by the end of this conversation that he was just a Dan Harmon pen name – not because Harmon tries to take too much credit for the idea, but because when he goes on a run of Rick/Morty dialogue, he sounds exactly the way Roiland does in the finished version of the show (a new episode airs tonight at 10:30).

Were you done with “Rick and Morty” season 1 by the time all the “Community” stuff happened?

Dan Harmon: Basically. The way it worked out is as soon as I was fired from “Community,” I was in the cradle of “Rick and Morty” and as soon as my primary obligations to the “Rick and Morty” writers room were over, “Community” was asking me back. It was the final weeks of things I could have done to help “Rick and Morty”. And so it just worked out perfectly.

On “Community,” you have never lacked for the ability to make the show be anything you want. You can take the characters anywhere in any form. And yet, you can”t have them going to other planets, not really. Was there a level of freedom you felt doing this with Justin that felt like you were more unshackled than you have ever been?

Dan Harmon: Yeah, definitely. Even if I was writing another single camera sitcom for a new show that was live action that was set in a veterinarian”s hospital, I would have felt that new freedom because a new show is a new show. But an animated show, an adult comedy about a profane unlikeable sociopathic genius alcoholic scientist dragging his affable grandson around the cosmos while simultaneously a father of two tries to hold his marriage together in spite of having married out of his league to a woman who got pregnant when she was 17. There”s pretty much literally nothing that you can”t do in an episode of “Rick and Morty”. It was a beautiful, beautiful net to fall into off of the high wire that was “Community”. All I had to do was let gravity take its course and I was embraced by something that had me protected everywhere.

Coming out of the end of your time on “Community,” thinking that you”ll never come back, and then your Harmontown tour, it must have been a good feeling for you.

Dan Harmon: Yeah. Always a good feeling, you know, to talk about “Rick and Morty” – feeling like you”re a wise guy in a ship of fools, feeling like you have bigger fish to fry, feeling like you”re underappreciated, feeling like you”re surrounded by incompetence. Those are things that definitely get in the way of a collaborative effort. And “Rick and Morty” has a safeguard built in it because those feelings can be manifested into a character. You know it can be put on the page and make people laugh. At “Community” those feelings had to be suppressed like David Banner”s feelings about wanting to destroy a village of corrupt lumberjacks. They needed to be put on hold while I did the good job of making good people happy.

At “Rick and Morty,” there”s a pile of Nerf guns in the corner and the fluorescent lights are flickering because the guy hasn”t come back in to fix them and the bathrooms stink and it”s in Burbank and we”re doing something to make ourselves laugh. And it”s all bets are off. There”s no fourth wall you can break too much. There”s nothing too taboo. There”s no tender, tender heart that you can break by going left or right. There”s 8,500 ways to do “Community” wrong. Because it”s a good show for good people that have supported it for five years, there are now over 8000 ways to do it wrong. And there are less than zero ways to do “Rick and Morty” wrong. Someone asked me on Twitter, “Do you love your kids equally like parents say you do or do you love one of your kids more than the other like parents really do?” And I said I love “Rick and Morty” like a newborn child who smiles at everything I do. And I love “Community” like my beautiful teenage daughter that recently tried to lock me out of my own house. They”re two different relationships. I love them both but “Rick and Morty” is easy and fun.

Did the idea come from Justin? Were you just talking about “Back to the Future” one day?

Dan Harmon: The idea initially was voices in Justin”s head. Justin had finished a job working on a very creatively stifling show. I don”t know what it was – you”d have to ask him but I know that as he tells it, he was coming off of that show going into unemployment and had this desperate urge to create. And instead of that urge flowing like a garden hose being gently turned on it was gonna shoot out like through the barrel of a gun. It was gonna be explosive, loud and cause as much damage as possible. That”s what was gonna make him feel better after feeling stifled for so long. If you ever meet Justin you”ll learn very quickly that the idea of him being pent up for any amount of time is just a dangerous concept. And so he came off of this job and he just wanted to do some damage and he started just salting these beloved characters from his childhood – Doc Brown and Marty McFly – in the form of these Internet webisodes for Channel 101 and just for his own purposes.

It”s just a bastardization, a pornographic vandalization of something he held dear. As I think Ed Norton says in “Fight Club,” “I wanted to destroy something pretty.” I can”t remember what his quote was. So it”s Doc Brown and Marty McFly – their relationship, we”ve never understood. Why is this teenager hanging out with this old man who happens to have invented time travel? Why before that were they ever hanging out. And I think Justin”s making these shorts that were just like okay, it”s these characters and Doc Brown is always bossing Marty around. He starts convincing Marty that in order to solve his problem Marty has to lick his balls. (The Rick and Morty impressions begin here.) “Lick my balls, Marty. Lick my balls. Marty, there”s only one way to get through this. Marty. Marty. You”re gonna have to lick my balls, Marty.” “Oh geez, Doc. I don”t think I can do that. I don”t know if that”s the right thing to do.” “Marty, you”ve got to trust me, Marty. You”ve got to lick my balls, Marty.” Just repeating the names over and over again in that cadence, that voice. (Harmon notices me laughing uncontrollably.) And you”re laughing right now just like the audience reacted that way.

That”s all it was. It was just violent and aggressive and angry but joyful. The only words that apply to sum it all up are punk rock. It was just fuck the queen and fuck Pierre Cardin and fuck my teddy bear and fuck my mother”s lullabies. I just want to chant something. I just want to stick something through my nose until it bleeds. I want to be grody and just beat a log and scream. And he”s repeating these names, “Marty, Marty, Marty, you”re gonna lick my balls Marty.” And it”s kind of like it is Doc Brown and he”s telling Marty McFly what to do. And Marty McFly”s constantly going, “Ah geez, I don”t know.” ButJustin just took it and made it disgusting and weird and nonsensical. But then the weird thing that happened is everyone loved it so much and he loved doing it so much he just kept doing it. And then he started recognizing that this is something special to him and it had nothing to do with Doc Brown and Marty McFly. And so he started changing the spellings of their names and calling them Doc with a C – K and Marty with an H and all this kind of stuff.

And he just kept doing it for free on the Internet and just having these characters, just repetition, “Oh, Marty, Marty. Marty, you don”t get it. Marty, you don”t understand. Your whole world”s a lie Marty. It”s all a lie Marty.” “Oh geez, oh no. I can”t take it again.” “It”s all a lie Marty. Marty, it”s all a lie. Everything in the world”s a lie.” So flash forward to me getting fired from “Community,” and me in spite of that having equity. Adult Swim saying, “We”d really like to do something with you,” and me realizing that I”m not gonna fit in at Adult Swim. I could probably steal their money and write something for them. They may even put it on the air. It”s not gonna make people happy the way it is if Justin Roiland is involved. That”s what”s for sale over there. It”s doing things wrong on purpose. It”s punk rock. And so I called Justin immediately. He loves animation. He”s passionate. He”s hardworking. We love working together and I said, “What do you have? Anything? Whatever you have that you would love to do a show, I will help you go sell it at Adult Swim and we”ll do it.” And he immediately brought up this ridiculous unmarketable thing which is a terrible vandalization of Doc and Marty. And I said, “That”s perfect. It”s perfect.” Because of the giggling and the laughter and the energy that it provokes when he just keeps repeating these names and saying these terrible things.

I don”t want to offend anybody that is afflicted with anything because they have to go through serious things and they don”t want to read about writers saying, “Oh, I know what you”re going through” or “I understand you.” But it is just like the embodiment of bipolar energy. In every sense of that word it”s just Justin and he found these pistons in his crazy brain. It”s just a gruff voice saying, “You”ve got to do this. You”ve got to do that. You”ve got to do this. You”ve got to do that.” Repeating it over and over again. And the other voice, “Geez, I don”t know if that”s a good idea. I can”t do that.” And it”s Justin – that”s what an engine is. It”s just what a battery is. It”s bipolar. It”s one metal in your brain wanting desperately to get to the other to complete it. But them being so different that they”re causing this havoc to every synapse in between.

And I think that”s why you laugh when you hear those voices. It”s like you can construct everything in television. You can build an old western town. You can rent horses. You can decide what year and what region of the country that “Deadwood” is set at. But you can”t construct David Milch”s passion for that era of history and what he wants to do. If that”s what he wants to do then you have to figure out how to package it and put it on a show. So I was thinking, “There”s got to be a way to bottle and sell Justin Roiland saying, tThis is what you gotta do, Morty. This is what you gotta do. You”ve got to do this. It”s not gonna be easy but you”ve got to do this. You gotta do it. You gotta do it.” ‘Oh boy, I don”t want to do it. I don”t want to do it.”” And one of the answers was to build a family around them. Nick Weidenfeld, who was working at Adult Swim at the time, was the first to suggest, “Why don”t you make Rick Morty”s grandpa?” And Justin hated the idea. Justin”s very gun shy, he”s been down this road so many times and he”s suffered so much more than he deserves to. He just wanted something on the air but he was absolutely unwilling to keep listening to people tell him how to do anything.

But the idea of making Rick Morty”s grandpa suggested to me therefore that Rick would be the father of either Morty”s mother or Morty”s father. And then the possibilities just started assembling themselves around that and my insecurity about capturing Justin”s appeal. I”ve always laughed at Justin and I”ve always wanted to help him get presented to people but I”ve always been really terrified that I would somehow add my base to his acid and just flatten everything out. I”ve always tried to figure out how can I put a frame around him. How can I help him develop a box that”s labeled “Justin Roiland is insane. And if you agree give us five dollars and you can watch him be insane.” And if he”s being insane you”re not being ripped off – you”re getting paid for it. How can you build that sign and that frame around it the way that my mom can understand it without compromising him at all?

And so the concept of a family came up and then I figured out, okay, here”s what we can do. We can have Rick and Morty go on these adventures together as grandfather and grandson. And then we can intercut it with these Charlie Kaufman, Woody Allen-esque petty domestic squabbles that are happening. That will be the formula of the show. You”ll be whiplashed between absolute Roald Dahl absurdity between a strange, perverse old man with mysterious motivations and logic and his absolutely learning disabled grandson in a world that has no rules except what we”re told which are being broken before we can have a chance to follow them. And then we went back over to two 35-year-old parents having an argument about Wheat Thins in a kitchen and how disrespectful it was to put a box of Wheat Thins back into the cupboard knowing that there are only two crackers left in there. And doing it explicitly because ‘We talked about this the last time,” and blah, blah, blah. And just going back and forth between those scenarios, and having them not conflict with each other. Making this strange, graceful tonal decision that if a portal opens in the living room and two people tumble out, that the mother reacts emotionally the same way that she would if Morty had stayed out past curfew. Because there”s still a betrayal happening and there”s still safety at stake. But the portal is not a mind blower. We don”t have to spend the rest of the episode having these people cope with the existence of portal energy. And we don”t have to hide it from them in every state. We”re just going to let these paints swirl in the same bucket and mix or stay isolated at their own leisure. And mothers are mothers and sons are sons and from there.

I was like, “Why would that be the case? Why would any parents let this crazy man disappear through clearly dangerous portals with their son?” And after talking about it with Justin for a while, I realized the most important thing about that show for me which is that Rick left at one point in Beth”s childhood and Beth blamed her mother for Rick”s absence. Kids can sometimes idolize their worst parent and blame their supportive parent for chasing off the dad with the guts to leave. Sometimes they don”t even admit it to themselves but they say, “My dad”s so fucking cool, he got the fuck out of here. And my mom”s such a bitch she”s always asking me to clean my room. That”s why dad left. She probably asked him to clean his room.” And in Beth”s case, she”s a horse heart surgeon. She”s not a real surgeon. She”s a horse heart surgeon because she got pregnant at 17. And she fetishizes exceptionality. She believes that Rick, as crazy as he is, is the better of her two parents even though she was raised by her mother and she blames her mother”s unremarkability on her father”s departure and will do anything to keep her father back in her life. And if Morty needs to risk his life traipsing across the galaxy with her insane alcoholic father, it”s better than Morty growing up in safety and ending up like her mother or her husband Jerry who she considers to be unremarkable and unredemptive and therefore undeserving of her affections. So the center of the show, even though we don”t address it at all, is this really fucked up woman who I love more than any character on that show because she would have been a brain surgeon, but she got pregnant at 17, and so she”s defensive about how she”s a horse heart surgeon because it takes less school to do that. And she”s selfish and she”s cold but she”s smart. She wears the pants in the family and she”s witty and she doesn”t like herself. She bothers to love her father and that keeps everything feasible because otherwise it would all fall apart. You”d go, “Why wouldn”t anyone say, ‘Stop doing that! Stop taking my son on these adventures!”?” The answer is because Jerry is terrified that Beth will leave him and Beth is terrified that Rick will leave her. And round and round we go. And so we have this beautiful suspension that could provide us with hundreds of episodes.

I remember when the Meeseeks episode aired, there was a lot of discussion about that moment where Mr. Jellybean tries to rape poor Morty in the bathroom and Rick suddenly gets protective of him for the first time. You talk about how Rick”s motivations are somewhat mysterious. Does he give a shit about the kid at all?

Dan Harmon: It”s important to freeze time and stop and ask as that question flies across the room, which most of us take for granted and consider easy to answer. A person like Rick freezes and asks us the question, “Define ‘give a shit.” What does that mean?” And he would break it down into its subsidiary questions. Does someone that hurts Morty deserve to be hurt? Yes. Would Rick rather someone that hurts Morty get hurt more and harder than they could hurt Morty? Yes. Rick has no problem making that decision. Does Rick have affection for Morty? Does he have empathy? Is he able to appreciate the value of an individual human life? I think that is one of the handful of questions that charges the whole show. Rick is an amazing character to me because he has diagnosable qualities of various mental illnesses but unlike a character on “Parenthood” or “Community,” he”s a cartoon character and a scientist who has seen 30 years of an infinite universe with infinite alternate universes arranged around him in a multi-spherical wave front. So if Rick does or says something that indicates that he doesn”t care about you as a human being, is he expressing a flaw in his brain or is he more evolved than us? Or is it both? And does experiencing the world on a chaotically large scale make you crazy or can only crazy people experience the world on that scale? In either case, what”s the difference? What are our obligations to each other? What does it mean to be a person? What do we hold valuable? Morty is this little songbird just asking, “When”s the sun coming up? When do I say how do we know north from south?” And Rick is this rough fantasy guy saying, “Dumb questions, stupid questions, not a question.” Like, “What does that mean?” Bill Clinton asking depends what it means or means means.

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is” is.”

Dan Harmon: Like, is that the dumbest or smartest question or answer in the world? Smart people are insane. So are politicians. People who justify bad qualities say the same things that Doctor Who says. Rick is – he”s seen a lot. He”s got bigger fish to fry. And we”ve all felt like that. We”ve all been standing in line at the bank with five people in front of us and six people behind us and we just don”t get it. I just don”t understand how much shit we have to do that day. And we all lose our cool inside or outside our heads when people just aren”t matching up with what we know to be the bigger issue here. So I think Rick is the intellectual equivalent of the Hulk. He”s that Zuckerberg, Howard Hughes kind of archetype that just doesn”t have time for everyone else”s bullshit. And we love being that guy and we know we”re not supposed to be him but it”s fun to watch him operate.

In one episode he destroys the entire world and then jumps to another reality and buries himself. That”s some dark stuff going on.

Dan Harmon: Yeah, with his adolescent grandson. And then he goes on the couch and he”s just hanging out, which has the clear implication that he”s done this before. So if he tells you that he doesn”t care about you, is he autistic or is he, in fact, well acquainted with the fact that there”s an infinite number of you and you are therefore infinitely replaceable? There”s a version of you that causes cancer and there”s a version of you that cures cancer. So who the hell are you? Why are you wasting my time with a conversation about your human rights? Because you are a fan of possibilities and there”s fringes of you that are doing harm and fringes of you that are doing good and a big giant bell curve of you that”s doing random shit.

Now not every episode of the show has been pop culture pastiche, but you”ve done your “Inception” episode, you did a “Lawnmower Man” riff with the family dog. What would you say sort of distinguishes when you do that on “Rick and Morty” versus when you do that thing on “Community”?

Dan Harmon: I think actually nothing, really. I think it happens for the same reason. It happens because when we”re breaking stories, I feel obligated to the stories upon which I”m drawing. Like when I”m making a point about a moment in a story I will say, “So they”re standing there and then they have to weigh this thing. And it”s like – did you guys ever see ‘Midnight Run”? There”s a scene in ‘Midnight Run” and they”re in a boxcar and the piano starts playing and Robert De Niro has this watch and they have this shared joke and all of a sudden it just turns into this unexpected emotional moment.” There”s points where you”re just sharing that, in the same way that Kevin Costner is saying “tatonka” to Native Americans (in “Dances with Wolves”) in an effort to make his point clear. Breaking a story, there”s no language that”s standardized about it, so “It”s like that moment in ‘Network.”” “It”s like that moment in ‘Die Hard.”” “It”s like that moment in such and such.”

Sometimes those are tools. You can break off a little piece of “Die Hard” and use it to open a lid. Sometimes you”re breaking off such a big piece of “Die Hard” and talking about it at so many different points in your story that you realize that you”re really citing “Die Hard” and you really owe it to bring “Die Hard” into the writer”s room and ask questions about “Die Hard” while you”re breaking the story and let “Die Hard” answer your questions. And then when the wardrobe supervisor says, “What should Jeff be wearing?,” maybe you say, “Well, a dirty wife beater, because why not?” And so in their best versions these things are just organic. They just happen because it”s an honest way to do what we always do, which is be incredibly derivative when we”re breaking stories. I don”t mountain climb on the weekends. I don”t go to roller rinks. I watch TV and I watch movies. And I didn”t have real experiences in my childhood. I watched TV and movies.

So it just feels appropriate and compelling to imitate the tone of your forbearers when you”re actually doing exactly what they did in direct moments of your story. In “Community” I will say that I”m just observing this now – I definitely try to never be guilty of specific movie Yankovic-ing. I don”t find pure referentiality to be actual comedy. I find that to be somewhere right above or right below puns. It”s just the audience never laughs out loud. They”re connecting dots. They tweet that it”s awesome. They say, “This is a ‘Zardoz” parody.” It”s not a “Zardoz” parody. I just dressed the guy like the guy in “Zardoz” because we took our story into the realm of dystopia. So that a 23-year-old kid would say, “Oh, you”re doing ‘Hunger Games.”” No, I haven”t seen “Hunger Games.” I saw “Logan”s Run.” I saw “Soylent Green.” I saw “Bladerunner.” I saw visions of the future for the 70s and the 80s.

What I”m saying to you is, my god, wouldn”t it be crazy if rating each other with this app got so extreme that the wardrobe department got involved and so that you could clearly see the striations as clear as they truly exist but are always ignored?. Whereas with “Rick and Morty,” we”ve already just blatantly done “Inception.” We just called it out and said, “We”re doing ‘Inception.”” There”s almost a “South Park”-ian kind of way of treating pop culture. Maybe it”s the animation. Maybe it”s the younger audience. I don”t know what it is but we go, “Yeah, this is Freddy Kruger. This is ‘Inception.””

I don”t entirely like it. I don”t want to be known as that. It”s a dirty part of the oven and it makes your hands covered in grease and soot. It”s hard to get off and I hope with “Rick and Morty,” we can continue to just share our love of certain sci-fi concepts and tropes. I guess maybe with the “Inception” thing, we thought, “Well, there”s a sci-fi trope with the concept of going into each other”s dreams. ‘Inception” wasn”t the first. ‘Dreamscape” was the better version of ‘Inception.”” I”m babbling but yeah, I guess the short answer to your question is it”s easier to fire off a narrow focused reference to a specific property in “Rick and Morty” because there”s a thinner fourth wall and there”s a faster boyish energy and so you can just kind of go for it. In “Community” you don”t want to do that. It just cheapens it, I think.

And on “Community,” you”ve got Abed, who gives you license to do it, comment on it, and move on very quickly.

Dan Harmon: Right, yeah. Abed can cite these things, but if the show itself ever actually somehow coincidentally becomes those things, that”s what actually breaks the fourth wall. Because now as a writer what you”re saying is, “Well, remember that thing that Abed said. Well that”s actually also just happening around them.” And you have to be very careful with that because it erodes the viewer”s trust that they”re watching real people in a real world.

In the app episode, I noticed Abed was not at any point saying “Oh, it”s ‘Logan”s Run” now.”

Dan Harmon: Right. In the chicken fingers episode, he makes a decision that he always wanted to be in “Goodfellas.” That drives the story. He makes everything like “Goodfellas.” They, in order to placate him, tell him that it”s gonna be like “Goodfellas” and the rest of the episode starts happening through his eyes.

So you”ve got the one show on NBC that”s living by the skin of its teeth year after year, in this business model that no one seems to quite know how to make work anymore except for Chuck Lorre. You have this other show that”s doing roughly equivalent ratings, and it”s a big hit for Adult Swim. How does that feel to you to be doing these two things and getting these very different reactions to them?

Dan Harmon: Well they kind of level out as being the same thing because it”s two different environments, yeah. It”s like, “Oh, I have a big hit at Adult Swim that”s being watched by the same amount of people or less than my big failure at NBC.” It teaches you what Rick”s learned about humanity, about ratings, you know? Who gives a shit? It”s all so pointless now. The Nielsen system that we developed, we developed it to measure the difference between five different TV shows on three different networks that were broadcasting one-way transmissions to 150 million captive people. We invented that system as the state of the art way of recording what these people were watching. Is it “Battle of the Network Stars”? Or is it “Hulk”? Or is it “Hulk Meets Battle of the Network Stars”? What are you watching?

And they get the results back in and people get hired and fired based on them and they make programming decisions based on them. And that needle was created to measure huge, huge numbers of people in a completely different world, in a world as different to the world we”re living in now as a light bulb is to a fucking tomato. And so now, okay, you can still tell me that “Breaking Bad” got a blank point blank and “Walking Dead” got a blank point blank and “Rick and Morty” got a blank point blank and you can tell me males 18 to 24 blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Everybody knows that nobody cares. Everybody knows these numbers mean nothing. We”re waiting for people to die. We”re waiting for a system to die. We are wringing a rag full of money from giant corporations that still have nothing to value except these numbers. There”s no replacement waiting. There”s no other horse to jump on to. So we are waiting for capitalism to do what it does, which is drop the bottom out from under something that”s working and for every penny that you could possibly have gotten to fall away from your gasp. At which point we will magically figure out how to measure audiences in a different way.

Until that day – which is coming next Wednesday – we continue to talk about whether a 1.0 is better than a 0.9 versus a 3.2 on a thing on a scale that was developed to measure things in the 20s and the 30s and the 50s. And it is as absurd as arguing about the weight of fruit flies on a triple beam scale that was made for “America”s Biggest Loser” or whatever the fuck that show is called. Yes, yes, fruit flies have weight. Yes, they do. Yes, scales measure them. You don”t measure a fruit fly on the same scale you use to measure you and I. Less people are watching narrative programming live and watching a Colgate commercial during the breaks between them. Surprise. It”s over. Here”s what”s going to continue to happen. Less and less people are going to want to watch commercials. That is going to continue to happen. Less and less people are watching more and more shows. That is going to continue to happen.

Acting like a show did a bad job by getting a 1 or a 2 or a 3 when the best show gets a 6 is – it”s a form of psychosis. Let”s pull all of the lowest-rated shows off of television right now and let”s count down the minutes until every McDonald”s and every schoolyard is filled with machine gun-toting psychopaths who have been denied their opiate. We are providing a very important function to everyone in the country. If the only thing that we leave on the air are the things that have high ratings, we”re all going to die. We have to stop measuring these things as if they”re competing with each other. There are 8,000 of them. There are 8,000 ways to watch them. There are 250 million people watching them any way they want to – on their wristwatches, on their shoelaces, on their laptops. They binge watch seasons. They subscribe to Netflix. They get together for parties and watch two shows at the same time on a split screen while they play their Xbox. And then with the other hand they get on Twitter and ask the show runner why he hasn”t done an episode with a yellow hat in it. And three episodes later, the show”s got a fucking yellow hat in it because everything has changed since “I Love” fucking “Lucy” except the goddamn Nielsen boxes. It is insane.

This is the business you”ve chosen.

Dan Harmon: And hey, this is the version of the business I”ve chosen that sustains a guy like me. Only in an era of crumbling television could I be making television. If this was 1981, I would have been fired from my first job and you never would have heard from me again. I”d be buried in the Angeles desert.

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at