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How Seth McFarlane's The Orville Has Been Similar To The Simpsons And Family Guy

The Orville Fox

After two seasons, The Orville has solidified itself as one of the must-watch science fiction TV shows. That's thanks in no small part to its premise, which took a lot of inspiration from the Star Trek franchise when creator Seth MacFarlane and his writing team were crafting The Orville's characters and episode structures. The show also hit at a time where Star Trek: Discovery seemed to be abandoning Star Trek's formula (though it really wasn't), and thus won over viewers looking for a show with that classic Trek feel.

Though that's how things began, The Orville started branching out more and more in Season 2. Creator Seth MacFarlane doesn't deny the similarities between his series and Star Trek, but he does say that the show has evolved and become something new-er. He equated the evolution to what happened with Family Guy, for which he borrowed the more obviously successful elements from The Simpsons to help ensure the new series would have a chance to develop into its own thing. In his words:

Family Guy is a good analogy. At the beginning, of course Family Guy was influenced by The Simpsons. Every animated show in primetime since the late 1980s has been influenced by that show heavily. Because they figured it out, they cracked the code, they did it right. So you just try to start by learning from what your predecessors have figured out and then take it off in its own direction. So at a certain point that’s kind of what’s happened with this show so we kind of let it tell us where it wants to go.

The Orville certainly has the basic structure of a traditional Star Trek series down pat, but there are distinct differences. To start, the comedy tends to hit harder in ways that a series like Star Trek: The Next Generation could never hope to match. As well, The Orville constantly toes a line of irreverence that classic Trek adventures probably would've strayed far away from.

That said, Star Trek: Discovery dropped an F-bomb in its first season. So The Orville may need to keep note of how heavy things are getting over at CBS All Access.

When talking to Deadline, Seth MacFarlane says it was really the second season where things started to click for the stories and characters.

I think that’s what’s great about the second season. I think you really start to lean into every character and know more about them and there’s some big surprises. The storytelling part of it for me is the best thing.

It'll be interesting to see how The Orville handles things in Season 3, since the Season 2 finale didn't explicitly confirm that the timeline had been set straight. Kelly accepted Ed's date in the past, but what if things still don't play out like they did before she appeared in the future? It's a question only The Orville can answer, and given the inventive storylines the team put together in Season 2, the odds are strong that the answer is riveting.

The Orville Team Celebrated Fox's Season 3 Renewal In The Perfect Way

How will The Orville raise the bar in Season 3? Fans will likely get some answers to that soon, as San Diego Comic Con is just around the corner. Stick with CinemaBlend during the convention for news on all shows and movies that will be announcing things at the event, and stick with us in general to stay up to date on the latest entertainment headlines.

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.