‘Family Guy’: What happened when the Griffins met the Simpsons
The most recent installment of 'Family Guy' had the characters heading to Springfield to meet the 'Simpsons' gang, though viewers' reception of the episode seemed to be based on whether they think the best days of both 'The Simpsons' and 'Family Guy' are behind them.
The season premiere of the Fox animated sitcom “Family Guy” found the Griffin family meeting the Simpsons family of Fox's other famous cartoon series.
“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane told Entertainment Weekly that the crossover effort was led by Richard Appel, who was once a “Simpsons” writer and is now executive producer and co-showrunner for “Family Guy.”
“You need somebody who can be in that room and say with experience, ‘No, no, I wrote for this show – that’s not something Homer would say,’” MacFarlane said of the process. “This feels like it will be very satisfying to fans of both shows.”
The installment included Simpson father Homer and Griffin family patriarch Peter getting into a fight and "Family Guy" character Stewie going after the “Simpsons” bully character Nelson. There was plenty of meta commentary and jokes about both shows, including Homer flinging Emmy Award statuettes at Peter during their fight (Peter objected, “That’s no fair! I don’t got none of them!,” according to the website Mashable) and "Family Guy" son Chris discussing cross-overs and saying, “A crossover always bring out the best in each show! It certainly doesn’t smack of desperation! The priorities are always creative and not driven by marketing.”
How you viewed the episode seemed to depend on what you think of both animated shows and whether they’re past their prime.
“After 26 years, The Simpsons isn’t funny,” USA Today writer Mike Foss wrote of the episode. “It’s been a very long time since The Simpsons had its edge, and the pairing of Family Guy seemed like a perfect opportunity to find it again – if only for an episode… MacFarlane often recounts how watching The Simpsons made him change his career ambitions. Yet, none of that inspiration was able to come through Sunday night because it was a MacFarlane production – to our detriment, Groening sat this one out.”
Jesse Schedeen of the website IGN wrote that “the results are stronger than average for [‘Family Guy’] given its recent quality, even if the episode never takes full advantage of the crossover premise… In general, this episode is pretty successful in its attempts at meta-humor. It pokes fun not just at the similarities between the two shows, but other animated sitcoms... The novelty of seeing these two animated worlds cross paths can only support an episode for so long, and this is where ‘The Simpsons Guy’ falters.”
Meanwhile, Jason Hughes of TheWrap wrote that the episode brought out the best of both fictional worlds, though he doesn’t think it should happen again.
“There were plenty of laughs and highlights along the way,” he wrote. “The courtroom scene putting the two shows’ characters side-by-side with their closest counterpart was a hilarious nod to the similarities between the two animated worlds, while it was impressive how many nods to both shows they managed to squeeze in… ‘Family Guy’ is a much darker and scarier animated reality than 'The Simpsons' and these two worlds should definitely not cross over again any time soon… Easily one of the most entertaining hours on television, neither show will likely match its sharp wit and cutting satire for the remainder of their respective seasons.”