Joel McHale I Never TRASHED 'Community'

12/23/2013 12:15 AM PST

Joel McHale -- I Never TRASHED 'Community'

"Community" star Joel McHale says he's being unfairly portrayed as a Season 4 HATER (even though everyone knows it sucked) ... telling TMZ he NEVER ripped the show in public.

McHale was on his way to shop for fancy kitchen supplies in L.A. Wednesday when we asked about a recent article that implied Joel thought the show was a disaster during the one season creator Dan Harmon wasn't at the helm.

(In fairness to the article, Season 4 WAS a disaster ... and everyone knows it).

But Joel says the story just ain't true ... and the quotes that painted Joel as a smack-talker were "taken out of context."

There is one positive ... Joel says he's pumped for the show to return in 2014 ... and insists it'll be more popular than the critically-panned-yet-strongly-rated "Sound of Music Live" spectacle.

Is that a good thing?