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Writer Megan Ganz Bravely Calls Out Dan Harmon for His Abusive Behavior as a Showrunner

Shutterstock image of Dan Harmon

On New Year’s Eve, Community and Rick and Morty writer Dan Harmon posted a tweet dubbing 2017 “the Year of the Asshole.” He included himself in the condemnation and called for 2018 to at least be “the Year of the Not as Much of an Asshole.”

Writer-producer Megan Ganz then quote-tweeted him and asked, “Care to be more specific? Redemption follows allocution.” Ganz had previously worked as a writer on Harmon’s show Community, and has since written and produced shows like Modern Family, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Last Man on Earth.

From there, the two had a Twitter conversation that alluded to some truly garbage behavior by Harmon while Ganz was working on Community. He owned up to it repeatedly, but Ganz pointed out the unfortunate truth of this behavior: he might be able to consign it to “foggy memories” and regret it, but the effects of his abusive behavior will follow Ganz – and the other people he victimized – for the rest of their lives. And his apologies and regrets don’t make those effects go away.

Ultimately, Harmon is not a “baby,” though he may have acted with the caprice of one, and Ganz was right to insist that he spend more time building empathy to prevent being an asshole in the future, and less time looking for relief from his guilt over what he’s done. Your victims do not owe you absolution.

Harmon’s demanding and demeaning behavior as a showrunner was notorious, and many speculated that it factored into his dismissal from Community. Back in 2012, his behavior was often compared to that of other “auteur” male creatives, like The Sopranos’ David Chase, or Mad Men‘s Matthew Weiner, and it was treated as something like the cost of his creativity. However, it’s not 2012 anymore, and it’s getting harder for men to get away with passing their toxicity off as a sign of true artistry.

There are some signs that Harmon has grown since Community. He’s addressed his issues with addiction and mental health repeatedly on Harmontown. He recently ripped into misogynist Rick and Morty fans were who were harassing the show’s female writers, calling them “knobs … trying to further some creepy agenda by ‘protecting’ my work. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I loathe these people.”

But there are also plenty of signs that he hasn’t grown enough. He’s launched into nightmarish Twitter rants. For its first two seasons, Rick and Morty had zero female writers, and only recently hired women for the third season. He and his co-creator Justin Roiland were accused of overworking and underpaying the animators on the show, and the Animation Guild had to step in mid-season and help the artists ratify a new labor agreement.

Whatever you ultimately decide to feel about Harmon and his work, it’s clear that he demeaned and abused Megan Ganz when she was his employee, to the point that she needed years to recover. And it’s just as clear that Ganz was incredibly, incredibly brave to call out someone with the toxic Rick and Morty fandom behind him – and not just call him out, but refuse to give him cheap absolution, push him to be a better boss to those who work for him now, and speak out on behalf of everyone in the entertainment industry who’s had to suffer under one of the “difficult men” who run things.

(Via Jezebel; image: Shutterstock)

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