In September, Dan Harmon gave the keynote address at the XOXO Festival in Portland. Harmon was recently fired as producer of Community, a show that he created and that features favorite TV autistic Abed Nadir. Harmon makes reference to his own place on the spectrum in this way:
I'm sure 20% of you have Aspergers. You're my people.
It's worth watching in part because Harmon takes advantage of his geeky audience to engage in extremely autistic humor (lots of jokes about definitions and numbers) and in part for his message, which is that people are more important than the technologies we use to connect ourselves to each other. And that is both an extremely autistic point and the exact opposite of what one might expect an autistic guy like Harmon to say.
If autistic people are going to represented fairly in the media, we need to to be included in the production of it. One of the barriers we face is that behavior which may be associated with our disability is seen as so unprofessional that it is disqualifying.
Parks and Recreation actor Nick Offerman told GQ he was not surprised that Dan Harmon, who is on the autism spectrum, was fired from Community:
It was crazy, but not surprising. Dan has been notoriously difficult with NBC. And then he had that really public Chevy Chase feud. I think Dan is brilliant, but we all kind of hung our heads and thought, That's no way for a boss to behave.
The entire cast of Community will return for the fourth season. Alison Brie (Annie) says that doing the show without its fired aspie creator will be different:
Dan Harmon was so instrumental in everything that went on with the show, and was the cause of most of the relentless innovation.
Parenthood producer Jason Katims talked to Entertainment Weekly about how happy he was with the storyline last season between Max and Amber:
There was the other really nice storyline with Amber and Max. I loved seeing those two characters together, where she helped him and at school he was being punished because he had gotten into a fight with his cousin. It was a really touching story where she helped figure out how to have Max apologize to Jabar for what he did. In doing so, Amber herself started to understand what some of the difficulties were with Max’s learning differences. There was also that really funny story where Adam was trying to dress in different clothes to look like somebody who he wasn’t. And it just gave this story — not only did it have this emotional impact, but it was also humorous. There was a lot going on.
Alphas begins its second season July 23, and autistic Gary may be starting it in an institution. Check out a preview here.
Sheldon's inability to get a haircut upsets his entire life on tonight's repeat of The Big Bang Theory.
Click here to see Kaley Cuoco (Penny) on the cover of Maxim Australia cover and watch video from the photo shoot.
Mayim Bialik says that she and her character Amy Farrah Fowler have a lot in common:
"I'm pretty similar to Amy," she added. "I'm definitely on the spectrum of socially awkward. I'm not as fashion-challenged as Amy, even in my normal life when I'm not dressed by a stylist! But I think a lot of her sweetness and her trying hard is something that's definitely part of me and I do draw on that a lot for her."
Last week, Sony unceremoniously fired Dan Harmon from Community, which he created. This means that we will no longer have an autistic character (Abed) written by an autistic writer on network television. S.E. Smith at Think Progress considers Harmon's own autism and what removing him says about disability in Hollywood:
What intrigues me about Harmon’s working style is that it’s more than just the “difficult creator” stereotype.
He’s also on the autism spectrum, as detailed in this interview with Wired last year. His very demanding, orderly, focused approach makes much more sense to me in this context, as does his agitation when his routines are disrupted and he’s forced to deviate from his working style. Harmon isn’t simply unreasonably demanding and difficult because he’s bitten by the creative bug; he’s actually compelled by fundamental differences in the wiring of his brain.
The same differences that undoubtedly contribute to his brilliance as a creator. That’s the thing with being on the spectrum. You can’t separate out the autistic and non-autistic parts of yourself into neat categories. You get a complete package, and that means you develop fixations and obsessions right along with the creative leaps that make your work stand out as quirky, experimental, and unusual. Harmon’s work isn’t typical because he’s not typical, and taking him off the team at Community could be a profound error if the network has any interest in continuing to keep the show going.
What he brings to the show can’t be replaced with just any showrunner, because Harmon’s got something unique he’s bringing to the table.
Harmon’s story intrigues me because he’s one of the very few people in Hollywood openly discussing disability and identifying with it. The representation of people with disabilities in Hollywood—as actors, creators, producers, showrunners, or anything else—is absolutely abysmal. The inclusion of people with disabilities in the writing room is especially important because that’s what results in better representation on the screen. When people actually living the experience are writing it, it shows; it shows with Abed, for example, with whom Harmon identifies in many ways.
Abed in 8-Bit
Tonight's three-episode Community season finale will include a story about Abed and his friends entering a vintage video game. Click here to watch a clip.
Because NBC just can't let this show have nice things (the worst possible time to schedule it: opposite The Big Bang Theory, a popular hit with similar appeal), they have to interrupt with an episode of 30 Rock. I stopped watching that show after one of its stars compared kids with intellectual disabilities to chimpanzees, so this annoys me.