Entertainment behind the scenes
“Family Guy” gains Emmy breakthrough where “The Simpsons” failed
When Emmy nominations came in on Thursday, one of the biggest headline-grabbing surprises was the best comedy series nod for Fox cartoon “Family Guy.” The show from bad boy TV darling Seth MacFarlane leapfrogged the long-running, critically acclaimed “The Simpsons” to become the first animated program nominated for a primetime comedy Emmy since “The Flintstones” in 1961.
How did “Family Guy” succeed where “The Simpsons” failed?
Since first appearing on television in 1989, “The Simpsons” managed to land cartoon dad Homer Simpson’s buzzword “d’oh!” into the Oxford English Dictionary, created a multi-billion dollar merchandising empire, inspired critics to call Homer, wife Marge and children Bart, Lisa and Maggie America’s first family of TV and spawned a raft of other primetime animated series, including ”Family Guy.”
Time magazine has said, “‘The Simpsons’ triumph is so absolute and its reach so total that it’s hard to realize that there was a time when its dense, rapid-fire allusions weren’t the lingua franca of comedy, when irreverence wasn’t the default mode of popular culture.”
The show has even been the subject of university courses.
But still, “The Simpsons” has encountered resistance from a small sector of TV viewers who will never flip to a cartoon, and it has never been nominated for a best comedy series Emmy, although in other categories it has garnered a couple dozen Emmy nods, including for best animated series.
The fact that “Family Guy” has succeeded in winning an Emmy nomination in the coveted best comedy series category speaks loudly of the show’s appeal. Edgier than
”The Simpsons,” MacFarlane’s creation is, like its predecessor, a Fox Broadcasting show. It has generated more controversy than “The Simpsons,” thanks to episodes such as a 2005 sequence featuring a song-and-dance routine about a man diagnosed with AIDS.
But “Family Guy” has also garnered 11 Emmy nods in other categories since its 1999 creation.
What is it about “Family Guy” that allowed it to go where no comedy series has gone since “The Flintstones”? And since critics have said that “The Simpsons” has been running on empty for several years, does it stand a chance of ever getting a best comedy nod?