Monday, September 26, 2022
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Rich Appel And Alec Sulkin Examine The Past, Present, And Future Of Family Guy

We’re about to enter Season 21 of “Family Guy.” What do you think it is about the show that’s allowed it to remain so popular for so many years?

Alec Sulkin: The simple answer’s the comedy, and also being an animated show, it’s easy to digest for people when they’re younger. You have a tendency — if you’re like me, who still owns lightsabers — to latch on to the things that you loved when you were younger. When “Family Guy” reaches people at an early age … They sort of decided it can be their comedy comfort food.

Rich Appel: Comedy comfort food — there’s the goal.

Were there any moments or jokes you wanted to see make it into an episode, but they didn’t for any reason? Were there any jokes you didn’t think would make it but ended up being allowed?

Appel: No. Yes, we credit where credit is due, and “Family Guy” will itself bite the hand that feeds it with Fox and jokes about Fox. But the standards departments of both our studios — Disney and Fox — are pretty good with working with us. There are a few rules we know to follow, and with certain storylines, even as long as there’s a way to interpret something that is appropriate, if other minds might take it a certain direction — well, that’s on them, or that’s more acceptable. 

When Jimmy Connors was on an episode and had to reassure Meg that she’d eventually find love, and he became a half-spectral spirit in the episode … He came into her window to cheer her up at the end, and he could see that she was still down. He was holding two tennis balls, and he said, if she ever felt down, all she should do is to take his balls, “Rub them, and I’ll come.” I fought the valiant fight and had a steam — “How could this not air?” When they agreed to air, I was like, “You’re kidding.”

Sulkin: One thing you might not know about Rich is that not only does he have a law degree from Harvard Law School, but he was an ADA in Manhattan’s Southern District many years ago. I don’t think there’s any showrunner ever who’s been more uniquely qualified to fight for the silliest and most disgusting of notes. He wins a lot of those battles.

Appel: That’s very kind of you to say. Often, though, you can imagine when I left the law 28 years ago how my mother reacted … Occasionally, now, if I were to tell her a story like that, she will say — I’m not exaggerating — “Now, aren’t you glad you went to law school?” It’s like, “No, Mom.”

Sulkin: My bachelor’s degree [is] from Connecticut College, where when I graduated, I literally had a moment of tension when I opened the diploma to make sure it was in there.



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