Here’s How ‘Simpsons’ and ‘King of the Hill’ Writers Responded to ‘South Park’s Anti-‘Family Guy’ Episode

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Here’s How ‘Simpsons’ and ‘King of the Hill’ Writers Responded to ‘South Park’s Anti-‘Family Guy’ Episode

When South Park scorched Seth MacFarlane and Family Guy in the two-part 2006 episode “Cartoon Wars,” they absolutely delighted the writers’ rooms of the other animated Fox sitcoms about middle-class white families. The Family Guy writers, however, weren’t as enthused — Trey Parker and Matt Stone still haven’t apologized to the manatees.

To this day, the South Park parody of Family Guy is still the most iconic roast of the animated comedy show that takes an inordinately large amount of shit from other animated comedy shows. In “Cartoon Wars: Part I,” America deals with the terror and blowback of the news that Family Guy will air a depiction of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, loosely mirroring Parker and Stone’s own struggle with Comedy Central to get similar representations into South Park episodes. Then, in “Cartoon Wars: Part II,” Eric Cartman goes undercover as a sickly child to infiltrate the Family Guy studios and bring the show to a grinding halt. It’s there that he’s introduced to the Family Guy “writing team,” an aggregation of manatees who randomly assemble pop-culture phrases into cutaway jokes.

According to Parker and Stone, following the broadcast of “Cartoon Wars: Part I,” creatives on both The Simpsons and King of the Hill reached out to the South Park staff to express their gratitude for busting Family Guy’s balls, with the former sending flowers and the latter telling Parker and Stone that they were doing “God’s work.” Presumably, the King of the Hill team wanted to send a gift as well, but they didn’t think that medium rare steaks would survive the trip from Texas to L.A.

They actually hate Family Guy more than we do, even though they wont say it, Parker said of the Simpsons staff at the time on the DVD commentary track for “Cartoon Wars.” Parker suggested an interesting and timely comparison for the mid-aughts, saying of the industrys feelings toward Family Guy, “Its like the Justin Timberlake thing. Its like when youre a musician and youre doing your stuff and working hard and trying to do art, and then Justin Timberlake comes along and just rakes in all the cash and everyone thinks hes awesome. And youre like, ‘Dude come on, it’s not that good. And that’s how, sort of, everyone in this town feels about Family Guy.”

Parker even admitted that envy played a part in the combined ire that South Park, The Simpsons and King of the Hill had for the mega-hit Family Guy, saying, “It is like this childish jealousy too, because its like, (nasally voice) ‘Come on! Our stuff’s cooler!” Stone pointed out that, at the time, Family Guy was also pulling in “four times the ratings of us.” 

Parker said of the feedback he received after the first part of the episode, “There was this animation solidarity moment, where everyone did come together over their hatred of Family Guy.” And, after hearing from the King of the Hill and Simpsons staff, Parker and Stone decided to acknowledge their approval by adding in references to both shows in “Cartoon Wars: Part II,” including the appearance of a character who looks suspiciously like Bart Simpson. 

Sometimes, this kind of inter-TV teasing is all in good fun. Though The Simpsons and Family Guy have traded plenty of barbs over the years, they still came together to do the awkward 2014 crossover special “The Simpsons Guy.” With South Park, however, the blood is as bad as it gets. “I just want to say for the record right now, we’ve seen Family Guy. We do hate it. We do hate Family Guy,” Parker would later explain, in case there was any ambiguity.

Family Guy, however, never shot back — though MacFarlane would say of Parker and Stone personally, “They can go to hell.” 

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