Seth MacFarlane: Interview with the Creator of Family Guy

The man who gave life to Peter Griffin talks about Star Wars, Stewie's reasons for wanting to kill Santa and why he hates Meg.
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The man who gave life to Peter Griffin talks about Star Wars, Stewie's reasons for wanting to kill Santa and why he hates Meg.

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How come the Griffins are such a musical family?

The animated medium lends itself to heavily produced musical numbers. With the size of orchestra that we use for the show, which is sometimes up to 80 players, it seemed like a waste not to put it to use.

Do you think it softens the blow, dealing with a serious subject via the medium of show tunes?

Yeah, if you’re singing about Down’s syndrome or AIDS or something else that you wouldn’t want to joke about, it does come across a little more innocuous, a little more okay, when it is sung Broadway-style.

Would you ever appear on Broadway yourself?

Believe it or not, that opportunity has presented itself on at least two occasions, but I have just not had the time. And I don’t think I would take home as much of an income after taxes. It would be a blast but these shows just aren’t going to produce themselves, are they? And the people seem to have an insatiable appetite that must be fed.

You did appear at the Proms, though?

That was awesome. To be on stage at the Royal Albert Hall performing classic MGM numbers like ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ – I would have happily paid for that privilege. If all theatre was that classy, I might be happy to dedicate my life to it. But I think you have to go to Britain – or maybe Canada – to find class like that.

Did you ever think when you started Family Guy that you’d have three shows running, you’d be sending up Star Wars and you’d be taking over the world?

Yeah, I’m just waiting for people to get tired of it so I can get some frigging rest. Family Guy’s a show that lends itself to the exploration of a lot of different genres of storytelling and we’ve never wanted to rest on our laurels and tell the same type of story over and over. To me, that’s when you start really taking heavy risks. They could potentially ruin the show but at least we’ll go out fresh.

What controversial topics are you tackling next season?

Well, there’s the abortion episode which gets released on DVD this year - and only on DVD. Then there’s the Amish - Stewie and Brian and the rest of the family get stranded in an Amish community. And Peter finds himself in AA, so we take a shot at Alcoholics Anonymous and how silly it is and how unnecessary. That’s a joke. Also, Lois becomes a boxer.

Stewie decides he wants to kill Santa Claus because Santa left before Stewie got a chance to sit on his lap at the mall.

And she gets into porn.

Yeah, we find out that Lois in fact did a porno. We’ve also got another Stewie and Brian ‘Road’ show where Stewie and Brian go to the North Pole, as Stewie decides he wants to kill Santa Claus because Santa left before Stewie got a chance to sit on his lap at the mall.

You’ve another Star Wars episode in the works, too.

Sure, It’s A Trap, which is our Return Of The Jedi episode. It’s really long and it was a ton of work, so hopefully it’s good because if it’s not, my God, we nearly killed ourselves for nothing.

After Jedi, is there another sci-fi franchise you’d like to take a crack at?

I think it will be a little while before we do another franchise of this type. Mainly because there really is no one quite like Lucasfilm in as far as allowing us to do it. Imagine doing a show that takes all year to do, then on top of it, doing these movies. It’s the most brutal thing in the world. We may tackle Indiana Jones, who knows? But we’re going to take a bit of a break before we do that.

Have Lucasfilm ever objected to the material?

Very, very rarely. In Blue Harvest, the New Hope parody, we wanted to turn the Jawas into the Jewas – “Don’t let the Jewas use the bathroom”. That didn’t go down especially well. But for every ‘no’ we get a hundred ‘yeses’.

Do you often think you’ve gone too far?

Yes, but not recently. I think in the early days there was concern from time to time that we had gone further than we should have gone, but those were isolated cases, but I think at this point, it has become a line that we walk with some confidence.

And to close, what do you have against Meg?

It began actually as you had a bunch of writers in a room none of whom knew how to write the character of a teenage girl, so there were a lot of instances of the writers taking it out on Meg. And then it became ‘the thing’. And it kinda works.

Family Guy Season Ten is out soon on DVD.

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