Cross Out “Homer,” Write “Peter”

Filed Under Animation

The Onion’s AV Club features an interview with “Family Guy” and “American Dad” creator Seth McFarlane, which he asserts among other things, that the “Simpsons’ staff hates Family Guy.” Just to make sure he wasn’t exaggerating, I typed the phrase into Google, and voila. He’s right. Cited as a reason is “Family Guy” dad Peter looking like Hank Hill ate Homer, implying there’s more than a few coincidental similarities.

I don’t think “Family Guy” took anything from “Simpsons” but lessons on how to do an animated show (and it still took them a little while to figure that out). But anyone who suspects Seth and the other “Family Guy” writers are ripping “The Simpsons” off, should check their blog chronicling the show’s return for any telltale signs like “Pitched story about how Peter originally acquired Brian at the dog track after losing family Xmas money. Went over big!”

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Posted by Rob Bates on 01/27  at  10:20 AM

Todd—how could you say the Family Guy didn’t take anything from the Simpsons? Of course it did! Two animated cynical surreal shows with a fat dopey father?! It’s not the first time it’s happened, and by this point “The Family Guy” can stand or fall on its own merits, but to me similarities are obvious ...

Todd Jackson
Posted by Todd Jackson on 01/27  at  10:36 PM

I really don’t think that’s enough proof to say that they totally stole “Simpsons” when they made “Family Guy.” Lots of shows are animated… that doesn’t mean all shows that are animated are similar. And lots of sitcoms have fat dopey fathers… Homer wasn’t the first.

The cynical surreal humor is a bit questionable and I think a case can be built there. Certainly the rhythms are similar, the cutting, the speed jokes fly, etc. But the first time I watched Family Guy, my reaction wasn’t “this is the Simpsons.” My first thoughts were about what it didn’t have that the Simpsons does, a bit more humanity. Family Guy is always been a lot more gag based show… the characters aren’t nearly as primary as they are in the Simpsons. The Simpsons is so exceptional in that it put hard gags on a character-based structure. I don’t really care about anybody on Family Guy, but I’m supposed to care a little on the Simpsons.

Just because something has a couple of commonalities doesn’t mean it’s stolen. I think the Family Guy people probably did cross the line emulating the Simpsons when they first began the show. And I can see why the Simpson writers would be upset… it’s never fun seeing someone borrow a bit more of your work than they should. But I don’t believe it was out-and-out theivery or anything. Just creators trying to figure how to work a show and using a successful one as their model.

Of course, I’m not an encyclopedia on either show. If there’s a site that proves there’s a lot more ripping off going on, I’ll be happy to look at it.

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