Mandatory TV Battle: ‘The Simpsons’ Versus ‘F Is for Family’
Photo: Gracie Films and Gaumont Animation
Emmy winner Mike Price has been a co-executive producer and writer on The Simpsons since 2003. In 2015, Price teamed up with stand-up comedian Bill Burr to create Netflix’s F Is for Family, an animated comedy-drama that follows the misadventures of a family in the 1970s, giving life to a new generation of dysfunction.
The first 12 seasons of The Simpsons are considered the strongest, and any show that runs as long as it has will eventually lose its ingenuity. The series remains a heavy favorite, however, playing on the nostalgia of a family many viewers have grown up with for nearly three decades.
F Is for Family is the next level of adult animated entertainment, completely uncensored and oftentimes surprisingly profound. The Murphys struggle through their mundane existence, trying their best to make ends meet, confront personal issues, and not kill each other in their sleep.
The Simpsons is currently airing its 30th season on FOX, and Season 3 of F Is for Family will debut on Netflix on November 30. While the two animated series stand apart, only one family can take home the gold for most dysfunctional and entertaining.
In its prime, The Simpsons mocked traditional family values. Viewers were drawn to a show that differed from the usual TV sitcoms of that era, made successful by brilliantly timed intricate jokes that didn’t require a laugh track. The Simpsons’ satirical take on social issues stayed grounded in its characters during its golden years.
Over time, though, Matt Groening and the creative geniuses behind the series moved on and so did many of the original writing staff by Season 12. They used to spend countless drafts perfecting a single fluid joke, where now the comedy feels a bit forced.
F Is for Family brought back rebellious, disruptive entertainment. Its hardcore language, nudity, and even its compelling drama set it apart. That’s not to say The Simpsons hasn’t had its fair share of emotional scenes, but F Is for Family utilizes humor to keep the story light while focusing on relatable issues.
While The Simpsons focuses on fantastical escapism, F Is for Family wants you to laugh away the pain as it shines a bright light on some of society’s darkest problems through all of its characters. Sexism, racism, bullying, emotional and physical abuse, gender expectations, toxic masculinity, sexual assault, and more are bluntly layered throughout the narrative.
The result is a raw adult cartoon set in the ’70s during a time when political correctness and helicopter parenting wasn’t part of the norm, and the show’s biting humor clearly reflects the comedy stylings of Burr.
Each series is full of characters with their own distinct personalities. These characters tend to stay true to how they view and respond to the world. For example, the family patriarchs, Homer Simpson and Frank Murphy, are both emotional men. Homer is as prone to outbursts of rage as he is to joy. He’s dumb, lazy, gluttonous, and an optimist who prefers avoiding problems until they escalate. Frank is often angry and depressed, with rare moments of happiness but who is never really satisfied.
The Simpsons’ personalities have been changed and dumbed-down over time, though. F Is for Family allows some room for character development while never straying away from the core of each character that the audience is drawn to. The Murphys feel more tangible as they adapt to what life has to throw at them, and the end of each episode leaves you wanting to see what comes next.
The sheer volume of episodes available to watch online gives The Simpsons the edge on binge-watching. You can jump into any episode in any season and be whisked away in old-school nostalgia or the altered later seasons. F Is for Family is told through a connected narrative in each installment, so it’s recommended to watch the episodes in order the first time through. With fewer episodes available, you’ll catch up quickly and be left wanting a lot more of the Murphy family and their colorful co-stars.
F Is for Family has picked up the mantle for a new era, reinventing the adult cartoon genre. In a side-by-side comparison, specifically regarding the newest episodes from each series, F is for Family takes the cake. However, the genre would not exist if it wasn’t for the groundwork The Simpsons established when the series premiered in 1989, and those first few seasons can’t be matched. The show led the way for future storytellers and fans of grown-up animation, building one of the most well-known brands that shows no sign of slowing down.