It may be difficult to believe, but Family Guy has been a part of Fox’s Animation Domination line-up for a whopping 22 Seasons now. The series was a revelation for lovers of adult animation (i.e. cartoon fare distinctly not made for children), and has (like its long-running predecessor, The Simpsons) managed to survive a number of ups and downs in the TV business. Now, creator/star/former showrunner Seth MacFarlane has gotten candid about the show’s success and why he doesn’t think he’d be able to sell the idea today.
What Did Seth MacFarlane Say About Family Guy’s Success And Starting The Comedy Today?
Obviously, it’s not easy to get a show on television, and it’s even harder to hit pay dirt with a series that connects with a multi-generational audience for over two decades, but Seth MacFarlane managed it with Family Guy. The laugh-out-loud funny and frequently controversial comedy debuted in 1999, quickly becoming a standout in Fox’s lineup which led to spinoffs like The Cleveland Show and a live-action series from the creator/star, The Orville. Recently, MacFarlane spoke to the Zach Sang Show about the “luck” that was involved in his first series becoming such a TV staple, saying:
When I started, I was 24. There was a lot of luck that contributed to this. I did a student film that was a rough version of Family Guy that was, in many ways, similar to the pilot of the show. And it was exactly what people were buying at that time. So, if I was pitching it now, I don't know if I would be able to sell it. But at that time, The Simpsons had taken off, King of the Hill had taken off, everyone wanted animation -- and exactly this kind of adult animation. So, my timing couldn't have been better.
Oftentimes, it really does take a giant stroke of luck to make our hard work and preparation really pay off, and the actor (who’s won four Emmys for voicing a variety of characters on the series) appears to be incredibly grateful that this was the case with him.
As he said, the late ‘90s really was the perfect time for him (or anyone, really) to attempt to pitch a show like Family Guy. By the time viewers got their first glimpse of Lois, Stewie, Meg, Peter, Chris and Brian Griffin, and their assorted friends and adversaries, The Simpsons was in its 10th season as a pop culture phenomenon, while King of the Hill (which will soon see a revival on Hulu) was in its eventually-Emmy-winning third season. Adult animation was hot, and the recent college grad already had the perfect idea, though he didn’t seem to realize, at the time, just how lucky he was. He continued:
But I didn't have anything to compare [selling the show] to. I was like, 'Oh you pitch a show, you just sell it, I guess this is what happens.' Never thought it would be -- however long -- it's been 24 years later, and we're still doing it. Never would have thought that was the case. You know I think it's just as simple as it's funny, and it doesn't ever try to -- yeah there's social allegory and there's political commentary -- but at the end of the day that's all secondary to the fact it's a show, that writer's room is just full of really funny people who are out to get laughs, and that's what the show is.
It’s true that whether you agree with the political leanings of the show or not, people seem to agree that Family Guy continues to be one of our funniest series, and have kept Peter fighting Ernie the Giant Chicken for over two decades.