‘Family Guy’ showrunner Steve Callaghan defends controversial Emmy campaigns

Move over Obama, Romney and the Super PACS, “Family Guy” knows how to cause a stir with campaign ads.


In 2009, “Family Guy” became the second animated series in TV history to be nominated for Best Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards; the first was “The Flintstones” in 1961. In a video chat with Gold Derby, showrunner Steve Callaghan recalled: “We were so thrilled when people took a look at the show and really came at it with an open mind and realised that just because it’s an animated show  doesn’t mean that it’s not also a comedy and should be judged by the same standards as some really great shows.”

Upon receiving the recognition, “Family Guy” released a series of videos online attacking each of its fellow nominees in one of the most aggressive Emmy campaign moves in history. Defending the arguably negative campaigning Steve said, “I guess you could call it negative campaigning. We have tried very much to have all of our campaigning … reflect the show. We want people to vote for us because they like the show and if they like the show hopefully they will respond to the way we’ve done our campaign … We hope that none of the other shows took offence; we were just trying to have some fun and shake up the campaign. It just seems like so often these Emmy campaigns can fall into the same rhythms and you see a lot of the same shows getting nominated … We can only be ourselves.”

Again this year, “Family Guy” has not shied away from controversy with its Emmy campaigning. An ad with this year’s material has Peter Griffin saying “Come on, you bloated, overprivileged Brentwood Jews. Let us into your little club.”

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Responding to the new controversy Steve said, “We just sort of tried to think of what would Peter’s take be on the whole Emmy campaign … and the notion of the television academy itself. We weren’t really trying to offend anybody, we just kind of thought it was in Peter’s voice and this is what Peter would think of it and what his reaction to it would be  … If people took offence it wasn’t our intention, it really was just our attempt to speak in the voice of the show. The truth of the matter is if it causes people to open up that screener and watch the DVD of episodes that’s the best thing of all.”

On whether “Family Guy” ever tries to cause offence with its pushing the envelope no hold barred comedy Steve responded, “We don’t go about writing the show in any mean spirited fashion. We try to be equal opportunity offenders. We’ll take shots at anybody and anything. We do try to be edgy and we do try to be provocative … Anyone is fair game, even including ourselves. We’ve made many, many jokes at our own expense. So we feel we are just as much a target as anyone can be … That’s the role of comedy to poke fun at different people.”


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