It’s been an intense week for Community fans, between the show’s stellar three-episode season finale on Thursday and the next day’s news that creator and showrunner Dan Harmon had been replaced for Season 4. Since then, we’ve seen Harmon weigh in on his dismissal, and read several thoughtful reactions from writers and industry insiders. Along with the entirely apt hand-wringing, critics have been taking stock of Harmon’s tenure on the show, and some have responded to anger about his firing by pointing out that while he may be a genius, he isn’t a great manager. As the discussion continues, Letters of Note has directed us to an absolutely fantastic email Harmon sent to Salinger, the seven-year-old daughter of fellow screenwriter Kelly Oxford, after the girl was scared by a film that he co-wrote, Monster House.
According to Harmon, the director and producers (including Steven Spielberg, who he calls a “moron”) of Monster House changed the movie significantly, and didn’t listen to him when he protested. In his note to Salinger, Harmon thoughtfully and eloquently explains what he thinks a good story should do, without ever condescending to his young reader. “I think a good story, even if it is sad or scary while you’re watching it, should always make you a little less scared after you’ve seen it. Because even a scary story, if it’s a good scary story, takes us into strange, dark places that don’t make sense at first, and helps us see that they do make sense, and are therefore not so scary,” Harmon wrote. Visit Oxford’s Tumblr to read the rest of the letter, which will do absolutely nothing to allay your depression about how Community will fare without him.