Every year “Family Guy” mounts the most outrageous (even shocking) FYC campaigns in order to grab voters’ attention and try to win that long-denied Emmy Award for Best Animated Program. This year’s DVD mailer shows Peter Griffin as a rather chunky, pouty Jon Snow, seated smugly on his Iron Throne under the announcement, “Due to a printing error, if you wish to vote for ‘Game of Thrones,’ please check the ‘Family Guy’ box on the Animation Ballot.”
In addition, for the first time ever, “Family Guy” presents a second mock FYC campaign with a photo appearing at its FYC site, which alludes to the college admissions scandal involving many celebrities like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. The photo juxtaposes the faces of “Family Guy” family members onto the bodies of a female rowing team with the caption “We’ve earned this. ‘Family Guy’ Class of 2019.”
“Family Guy’s” Emmy campaigns are always timely, in this case because “Thrones” just made its final bow on HBO, of course, but its new FYC push is relatively tame considering the savage satire sometimes employed on previous campaigns. Last year, for example, at the height of #MeToo mania, Peter appeared on the cover of the DVD mailer under the words, “We predicted Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein. Open DVD to see who’s next.” Two years earlier, during media frenzy over the U.S. Presidential election, Peter appeared as Donald Trump on the DVD cover under the quote, “As long as we’re voting for dumb loudmouths, can I get an Emmy?”
Curiously, you don’t often see such ripped-from-the-headlines humor on televised episodes of “Family Guy.” Why not? The very interesting answer comes from Rich Appel, who’s the program’s co-showrunner with Alec Sulkin.
“There are a few approaches a show might take to its Emmy screener campaign: you can celebrate your season or highlight nice things said about your show,” Appel tells Gold Derby. “Maybe because ‘Family Guy’ has been on the air so long, and maybe because even we have grown tired of celebrating ourselves, ‘Family Guy’ usually sees it as an extra opportunity to comment on something that’s in the zeitgeist, and in a way that we often can’t on the show itself.
“Our production cycle is basically a year, and while we rewrite and reanimate scenes throughout the process, we try not to target stuff that’s so topical it’ll be forgotten — or, as is often the case, overtaken by something new. But the turn-around time for the Emmy mailer is a lot tighter, so we feel pretty confident we won’t be the last to the table. A while ago we focused on Donald Trump — who, sadly, has lasted longer than we expected.”
Above: Click through our gallery of past DVD FYC campaigns. Below: a sassy scene from 2017 that reveals just how furious Peter has finally gotten over these serial Emmy snubs.
“What are you hiding?!” Peter roars angrily at a gang of multiple Emmy winners who include Alec Baldwin, Julie Bowen and Shondra Rhimes. “What’s the big, secret reason ‘Family Guy’ can’t win an Emmy?”
“All right, we’ll tell you,” Baldwin replies. “Your show sucks.”