Well, it took a while, but Chevy Chase finally “parted ways” with Community. We’ll have to wait until the inevitable Community oral history (which should be fantastic) to find out whether he jumped out or was pushed. But he’s gone, and he’ll be written out of the last couple of episodes of the season – the last couple of episodes of the series, if it doesn’t get renewed.
It’s the way Chevy Chase’s professional relationships usually seem to end, from Saturday Night Live onward. Being cast in Community , at the suggestion of NBC then-chairman Ben Silverman, was his opportunity to re-invent himself as a character actor and open himself up to a new audience. (The network, in turn, expected him to attract more viewers in their ’40s who remembered him from the days when he was a movie star.) Instead he’s probably wound up destroying what was left of his career. When Community ends, several of the actors will be in huge demand – Donald Glover arguably tops the list of potential stars, but they’re all going to have offers. Chase will not. It just seems unlikely that anyone will give him a major part in a TV series again, given the way he behaved.
The thing that comes across in Chase’s behaviour, or reports of his behaviour, is something that Zack Handlen pointed out on Twitter: Chase seems to act like someone who has no idea that he’s no longer a star. Not that disruptiveness is acceptable for a star in theory, but in practice, stars can get away with that sort of thing – they’re not expendable. As we’ve seen with Charlie Sheen and others, if the star of the show makes a nuisance of himself, it takes a whole lot to get him fired. But supporting players are expendable, which is why they tend to have to learn to be diplomatic and not cause trouble. Chase acted like Chevy Chase, star, when to save his career he needed to adjust to being Chevy Chase, character actor. It’ll be interesting to read more about this – as more details eventually come out – and get a sense of whether he couldn’t adjust to not being the centre of attention, or whether he just had no idea that the whole show wasn’t about him.
Also, as to whether this could bring Dan Harmon back to the show if it gets renewed for another season: that seems unlikely. While Harmon’s feud with Chase was widely publicized, it probably wasn’t the main reason for his dismissal – because nobody can get along with Chevy Chase. When the current producers clashed with Chase, it was Chase who went, so it’s doubtful that that particular conflict was what drove the first high-profile Community departure (if you don’t count that love-interest who disappeared between the first and second seasons).