Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011
With a Twitter feed infested with nonstop pop-culture rants and cranky musings about the business, Harmon has cemented his name as one of Hollywood's most outspoken showrunners. And really, he can't help it. His passion for the medium was born in a lower-middle-class suburb of Milwaukee, where Harmon says TV was his "father, mother, older brother, pet and soul mate." Actually, it was Jack Klugman's sportswriter character on The Odd Couple that got Harmon obsessed with the idea of writing. "But I never thought about television as being something you 'wrote,' " he says. He credits his mother for giving him his first big break when she gave a young Harmon a refurbished electric typewriter for his birthday. His first foray was a short-lived stint as a Marquette University journalism major, though he dropped out after realizing he'd "never make it" and turned his focus to stand-up comedy. Harmon moved to Los Angeles in the late 1990s and met Ben Stiller through his writing partner, Rob Schrab, at ImageMovers. Together, Stiller, Schrab and Harmon penned 1999's Heat Vision and Jack, a failed pilot for Fox starring Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Now in his third season on Community, Harmon continues to work despite the fear of people "watching what I type" while mingling with like-minded people in the writers room and on Twitter. "Anywhere from here is undiscovered territory because I never imagined I'd have access to this many people," he says. "If I met them in a bar, they'd throw a drink in my face or tell me to take a shower."