Dan Harmon, creator of the sitcom Community, admitted to sexually harassing a former writer on the show, Megan Ganz, in an episode of his Harmontown podcast. Harmon begins to address his behavior at the 18:40 mark.
Harmon’s detailed admission comes several weeks after Ganz called him out on Twitter for sexual harassment. While Harmon expressed regret at the time, he said on Harmontown that other female colleagues pushed him to not just apologize publicly, but do so in a way that touched on how he was part of the problem.
Harmon opened his confession by being careful with his language, noting that he was “attracted to an employee” and that “a huge part of the problem is a culture of feeling things that you think are unique and significant because they are happening to you, and saying things like ‘I had feelings for’ and ‘I fell for’ and all these things. The most clinical way I can put it in fessing up to my crimes is that I was attracted to a writer I had power over because I was a showrunner and I knew enough to know that these feelings were bad news.”
Harmon said he recognized the risks his attraction to Ganz carried, but unsure of how to grapple with his feelings, he said he “did the cowardly, easiest, laziest thing you can do with feelings like that and didn’t deal with them. And in not dealing with them I made everybody else deal with them, especially her. Flirty, creepy, everything other than overt enough to constitute betraying your live-in girlfriend.”
Harmon said he lied to himself and his girlfriend about his attraction to Ganz, and rebuffed complaints about his behavior by claiming other people were being “sexist or jealous” and insisting he was being a mentor. Even after Ganz repeatedly told Harmon his behavior was making her uncomfortable on both a personal and professional level, he said, “I just didn’t hear it because it didn’t profit me to hear it, and this was, after all, happening to me, right?”
Harmon said his attraction to Ganz ultimately led him to break up with his girlfriend because he believed it would legitimize his feelings and behavior. He admitted to telling Ganz, “I love you,” and when she rejected him, he turned his humiliation into even uglier behavior. “That was probably the darkest of it all,” Harmon said. “I’m going to assume when she tweets about it and refers to ‘trauma’ that’s probably it. I drank. I took pills. I crushed on her and resented her for not reciprocating it and the entire time I was the one writing her paychecks and in control of whether she stayed or went and whether she felt good about herself or not, and said horrible things. Just treated her cruelly, pointedly, things I would never, ever would have done if she had been male and if I had never had those feelings for her.”
Throughout all this, Harmon said he continued to lie to himself, even as he lost control of Community and was ultimately fired from the show. “I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had any respect for women,” he said of his behavior towards Ganz. “On a fundamental level, I was thinking about them as different creatures. I was thinking about the ones that I liked as having some special role in my life and I did it all by not thinking about it.”
Harmon closed by urging men to actually think about the implications of being attracted to colleagues and co-workers, especially when there are clear power dynamics at play. “Because if you don’t think about it,” he said, “you’re going to get away with not thinking about it and you can cause a lot of damage that is technically legal and hurts everybody.”
On Twitter, Ganz responded to Harmon’s confession by ultimately forgiving him and urging people to listen to his statement. “He’s not rationalizing or justifying or making excuses,” Ganz wrote. “He doesn’t just vaguely acknowledge some general wrongdoing in the past. He gives a full account… What I didn’t expect was the relief I’d feel just hearing him say these things actually happened. I didn’t dream it. I’m not crazy. Ironic that the only person who could give me that comfort is the one person I’d never ask.”