Community, NBC's college comedy, has just got the greenlight for a second season. TVGuide.com checked in with executive producer Dan Harmon to see what's ahead for the students of Greendale, how they'll explain Troy and Abed's special friendship and why the impending graduation of the cast is a tiny narrative problem.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations on the Season 2 renewal. How does it feel?
Harmon: Thank you very much. It's very exciting. The feeling in the production offices is surprisingly normal. I guess we're so close to the finish line for the end of the season, that somehow the human brain is capable of tucking that news away while we focus on the task at hand.
TVGuide.com: Would you have planned for some sort of closure had you not heard this soon?
Harmon: Because John Oliver is in the finale and his schedule is very specific, we've actually shot the finale already. Had we not heard the news, no. We were actually pretty confident in the fact that we weren't going to know for a while because if you think about NBC's situation, they could've easily just waited and seen how their next batch of pilots turned out before they bothered to let us know. We're really appreciative of them for the support.
TVGuide.com: Are you already tossing around ideas for Season 2?
Harmon: No, not at all really. We've never profited from thinking ahead on this show. We don't hatch great schemes. I'm pretty proud to say that Season 2 is a blank canvas at this point.
TVGuide.com: You recently teased an upcoming episode inspired by an action movie. Is this one of Abed's homemade films?
Harmon: It's not through Abed [Danny Pudi]. The events of the episode surround a paintball game gone awry. I had made the decision to not do the paintball episode where everyone is themselves and it's quirky that they're playing paintball. It's like taking the paintball game as seriously as you would take it if the bullets were real.
TVGuide.com: What can you say of Katharine McPhee's guest stint?
Harmon: She plays Chevy Chase's ex-step-daughter. He doesn't have any biological kids and is getting closer to the end than to the beginning, so he's starting to think of what he'll leave behind. It's family day at Greendale and he has sent out a mass email to all of his ex-stepchildren from all of his seven marriages and one of them shows up. It's complicated because Pierce has decided that he has ownership over this woman and Jeff [Joel McHale] can't make a move on her.
TVGuide.com: Do you look at Jeff and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) as the Ross and Rachel of Community?
Harmon: No, I don't actually. Ross and Rachel is a relationship that — not having watched every episode of Friends — the audience could get behind. We feel like the days have gone by where the question of will they hook up could drive an entire series. The big question of Jeff and Britta is: Do they have chemistry? Do they not have chemistry and is that a form of chemistry? I just don't believe the audience will sit tight for another Ross and Rachel and I don't think you could manufacture that.
TVGuide.com: My actual favorite couple on the show is Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed anyway. Will you continue to nod at them being so close?
Harmon: Yeah [Laughs]. It's not like Smithers on The Simpsons to me, but it's just the fact that they're very close and compatible. I think that the characters may continue to comment on that, but it's not in the sense of will-they-or-won't-they. Because they're guys and best friends and adorable together, they cut the silhouette of a couple. It's not like a game that we'll play hinting there's more going on there.
TVGuide.com: What can you tease for the last few episodes?
Harmon: The last two episodes will be incredibly rewarding to fans of the show and newcomers alike. The very last episode will move in accordance with the school year, so it will be their prom. There's a transfer dance to honor all the kids who are transferring to real schools, none of which are our characters. It's essentially a reunion because every single character that ever popped up is at this dance.
TVGuide.com: This raises the question: What happens when your cast starts graduating?
Harmon: That is the scary thing about the show, but I also think that's part of its secret allure. Jeff needs to replace his four-year degree, so we know that character is at that college for that. What we don't know is what the other characters' situations are. One of the first things we'll do in Season 2 is actually call our shots there and start saying what their situations are.
Are you happy Community got a sophomore season?