Last week, former Community writer Megan Ganz engaged in an online dialogue with her old boss, Dan Harmon, about the ways he “treated [her] like garbage” and “crossed lines” when they worked together. At the time, Ganz said she wasn’t ready to accept Harmon’s apology, and he offered to do anything he could to make it right.
And in a rare and encouraging outcome for these scenarios, Harmon apologized at length for his behavior on the new episode of Harmontown released today, and Ganz says she accepts his apology. In fact, she was the one who called attention to the apology on Twitter, saying, “it is a masterclass in How to Apologize. He’s not rationalizing or justifying or making excuses. He doesn’t just vaguely acknowledge some general wrongdoing in the past. He gives a full account.”
As Harmon tells it, the basic story is that Ganz was the recipient of unwanted sexual attention from Harmon, and felt like she couldn’t do anything about it because he was her boss. That experience affected not only her feelings about her work on the show, but her confidence in her talents as a writer.
“The most clinical way I can think of to put it is that I was attracted to a writer who I had power over, because I was the showrunner,” he says. “I knew enough to know that these feelings could affect peoples’ faith in my judgement, her faith in her talents as a writer, the other writers’ respect for me, the production, the audience ... So I did the cowardly, laziest, easiest thing I could do when you feel these kinds of feelings: I didn’t deal with them. And in not dealing with them. I made everyone else deal with them. Especially her.”
“It’s not as if this person didn’t repeatedly communicate to me the idea that what I was doing was divesting her of a recourse to integrity,” he says. “I just didn’t hear it, because it didn’t profit me to hear it.” Over time, he says, he escalated his attentions— “full-scale creeping on my employee,” as he puts it—eventually telling her he loved her. After she turned him down, he says, “I drank, I took pills, I crushed on her and resented her for not reciprocating it, and the entire time I was the one signing her paychecks and was in control of whether she stayed or went, and whether she felt good about herself or not, and said horrible things. Treated her cruelly. Pointedly. Things I never, ever would have done if she had been male, and if I had never had those feelings for her.”
“I lied to myself the entire time about it, I lost my job, I ruined my show, I betrayed my audience. I destroyed everything.,” he says. “And I damaged her internal compass. And I moved on. I had never done it before and I will never do it again, but I never would have done it if I had any respect for women, on a fundamental level. I was thinking about them as different creatures, I was thinking about the ones I liked as having some special role in my life, and I did it all by not thinking about it.”
Harmon ended his apology by encouraging his audience to “just think about it,” saying that it “should be a normal part of our culture” to look inward and examine how our feelings and actions affect other people. You can hear the whole thing on this week’s episode of the Harmontown podcast starting 18 minutes and 38 seconds in.