It’s been a year since NBC mentioned that they might cancel Community; with the meta sitcom thrust into the spotlight, for the most part it’s had a positive impact as it’s inspired fan campaigns and brought on new viewers. But a very negative aspect of people suddenly paying attention to the show is that all of the off-camera feuding and disdainful comments from cast members has also become highly publicized. And when I say “cast members,” really I just mean Chevy Chase.
Whether it’s feuding with creator Dan Harmon (who was recently fired by NBC) or Community‘s female writers laughing off his sexist jokes, Chase is at the center of most of the show’s non-network conflicts. And now he shoots his mouth off again, in a new interview with HuffPo UK. No one will argue that Community was a shot in the arm for Chase’s career, making him popular with the current generation whose parents watched him on Saturday Night Live starting in the ’70s and then in movies. But when the interviewer asked what inspired him to return to television after so many movies, Chase’s answer was kind of disturbing:
“It was a big mistake! I saw this pilot script, thought that it was funny, and I went into the room where they were casting and said, ‘I would love to play this guy.’ Then they mulled it over. Then they hired me and I just sort of hung around because I have three daughters and a wife, and I figured out I might as well make some bread, every week, so I can take care of them in the way they want. My wife has just been in the Antarctic, and Cuzco in Peru, and Lima, and Machu Picchu… she likes to travel. That was about a month of travelling, and that will take about a year of work.”
Look, it’s no surprise that actors in TV shows can often grow resentful of their jobs, especially when the shows go on for way too many years, the quality deteriorates, and the characters run out of stories. If we could make our peace with the How I Met Your Mother cast tactfully implying that they’re about done with their show, then we can handle one grumpy old guy bitching about Community, right?
And yet, I just have this reaction of, Well, if you were so lukewarm about the show, why not put everyone out of their misery and quit? I confess I haven’t watched enough of Community to know how vital Chase’s character Pierce is to the rest of the ensemble, but I imagine his co-stars would do OK without him. And sure, this candid discussion of money and paychecks isn’t new, especially considering Ellen Pompeo‘s recent interview doing the same. But she still seems to have a professional respect for Shonda Rhimes and her Grey’s Anatomy co-stars, whereas Chase seems begrudging at best:
“I prefer movies because the money is better and certainly because you really know where you stand when you are making movies, and I have made a lot of them: 50 something, I don’t know. The hours in this kind of show are not commensurate with the actual product. “The hours are hideous, and it’s still a sitcom on television, which is probably the lowest form of television. That’s my feeling about it. I think the reason I have stuck around is because I love these kids, the cast—they are very good. It’s not like I am working with the great innovators of all time, but at the same time, they are my friends.”
“The lowest form of television,” really? With what constitutes television being radically redefined in the last few years and some supposed comedies including twists as jarring as hour-long dramas, he really doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. But that’s how Chase comes across in this interview, out-of-touch and arrogant. Maybe the problem is that he doesn’t take his co-stars — like Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, etc. — seriously enough as peers, instead regarding them only as friends that he graces with his company.