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Interview: Michael Price Talks About ‘F is for Family’ and Writing for ‘The Simpsons’

The long running animated sitcom F is for Family is set to debut its fifth and final season sometime in 2021, causing many fans all around the world to shed a collective tear but also rejoice that they will be able to watch the zany adventures of the Murphy family for one more season.

One of the reasons why the show is as funny as it is is because of co-creator and writer Michael Price, whose scripts for the show are always witty and fresh which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise seeing as how he has worked on the long-running series The Simpsons for almost twenty years now.

I had a great chat with Michael Price today about his feelings about F is for Family coming to an end, his work on The Simpsons, and what his future endeavours look like.

Q: F is For Family has been on the air now for six years and it seems to be proving quite the hit with viewers. How did you come up with the whole idea for the show? How did it come to life?

A: Well, it all started with Bill Burr who told these kinds of stories about his childhood on his various different standup routines on stage for many, many years and he talked about, over the course of his career, that when he was about twenty years younger, he used to get laughed at and bullied quite a bit and how his father wasn’t the nicest person. He would come home from work and tease him and stuff. But he said that as time went on, probably about the 2010s or so, he would tell these same stories and people would show so much sympathy and say things like “Oh that’s terrible” but he’d insist “No no it’s funny!”.

So he wanted to eventually depict some of these kinds of stories in an animation format. He always thought about making shorts for his website similar to the original Simpsons shorts but never got around to doing it. One day though he had a meeting with one of the head people at the production company Wild West after they invited him in to have a chat since they really dug his work.

When he was leaving the meeting, he mentioned how he’d like to make an animation similar to his family and his life growing up and one of the people there was willing to work with him on that. So then they eventually started to reach out to various people who had worked in the animation field before so I started talking with the people in charge and we really hit it off. So then me and Bill started to develop a few ideas and it just kind of got the ball rolling from that point onward.

Q: This show is definitely very unique and it stands out quite a bit against the crowd of so many animated sitcoms. What, in your opinion, makes F is for Family stand out amongst other shows that are similar?

A: Well one of the things about animation that I love dearly about it is that it really strives to be as real an art form as possible in the way that life is, the way that people deal with each other. So, I think it’s one of the few animated sitcom shows that tries to be as real and as human as possible. Plus, Bill’s style of mainly observational comedy about the way people react.

And also we had dozens of different potential titles and we eventually decided to go with F is for Family because something about it just sounded right and it just sort of stuck with us. We also try to be gratuitous with the language on the show too and another huge part of the show’s DNA is that it’s set in the past. Because of this the whole show kind of feels like a funhouse and we really got to explore the way things used to be back in the old days. I also just think that a lot of the themes that the show tackles are even more prevalent in today’s day and age as they were when we first came up with some of the ideas for some of the episode’s storylines when we came up with them back in 2014.

Q: So of course, every show that has multiple seasons and is beloved by millions of fans all around the world, has a lot of anticipation riding on that final season and the series finale episode. Was there a lot of pressure on your hands when writing this upcoming final season or did you just kind of go with the flow?

A: I would say mostly a little bit of both, but there was definitely a desire not so much a pressure so much, but a desire to come up with a way to end the series on a deeply satisfying note that, hopefully, the audiences are going to love. But we also felt like one of the hallmarks of the show is more or less trying to portray life the way it happens.

You know, there’s just a randomness to life and we didn’t want to make a picture perfect ending where every little thing gets tied up in a pretty little bow. Without giving away what happens at the end, but I do feel like we mostly fulfilled the overall vision from the series that we had in our minds ever since the start back when we were coming up with ideas and storylines in 2012. The main character Frank Murphy will have plenty of emotional growth this season and he has to find out the way he is who he is and I really think that the majority of the storylines are ended in a fun and entertaining way. Some of them, however, are going to be unanswered and are going to be left entirely open to interpretation. The Simpsons is going into its thirty-fourth season, so it’s still ongoing. I’ve never had to write a series finale or anything like that so it was quite the challenge but also so much fun.

Q: There are obviously a whole bunch of characters in this show that many fans have grown to become greatly attached to during the course of the four seasons they have seen so far. Who do you think has the best character arc in the final season?

A: Definitely Bill Burr’s character Frank Murphy. That’s what’s so fun too is that we start a season and we try to plan out what each character’s eventual arc is going to look like and how it is going to be shaped eventually. The character of Frank definitely carries the most story weight throughout the entire season. A lot of it is him still dealing with his feelings towards his father and we kind of left that up in the air at the end of season four.

So this time around he really has to figure his life out and tie up some loose ends along the way so his character is definitely one that goes on quite the journey in the final season. He doesn’t really view his father as a good person and so Frank really wants to try to be the best dad possible and really, the best person possible. There is also sort of a mystery element implemented this time around that I obviously can’t get into yet but a lot of the characters in season five are scrambling to come up with an answer to an ongoing mystery. Unlocking it will uncover a lot of the stuff from their past.

Q: This show definitely seems to have already amassed quite the decently sized fanbase over the course of its run so far. Why do you think it is connecting with audiences the way that it is?

A: Honestly, I don’t know but I am extremely glad that it is connecting with people. I’ll just say though that I do go online especially on Twitter just to see what everybody is saying about the show and I always try my best to respond to as many people as I possibly can just to strike up that conversation. I also find that a lot of people tell me “My dad is totally Frank” and also people seem to really respond to the character of Kevin too which is just great to see how people really love these characters.

One thing that I have really strived for is to try to be emotionally truthful and tell interesting stories and we mostly want to try to be as funny as possible. I was just watching an episode of it the other day, one of the new ones, and I was constantly happy and laughing at how well everything was put together in the finished product. But ultimately what I think most people are probably connecting to is the main cast of characters but in particular, Frank.

Q: After this final season airs, what do you see yourself doing next? Do you want to jump on board of an already existing show or do you want to try something new altogether?

A: I definitely want to stay onboard writing and working on The Simpsons for as long as possible. I would definitely love to do some other stuff on the side as well of course. Really, it’s just always great to have a job and working on The Simpsons for as long as I have been has just been the greatest experience for me. As far as working on something new, I have a few ideas for things that I can’t delve too deep into here but one of them would be a live-action show and a few animated ones as well. Plus I have always been into theatre so creating my own theatre production one day would be an absolute delight and I hope to do that one day.

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and has been writing about film for several years across various different publications. Ever since the age of nine, film and the art of filmmaking have been his number one passion. When hes

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Written by Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and has been writing about film for several years across various different publications. Ever since the age of nine, film and the art of filmmaking have been his number one passion. When hes

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