MacFarlane talks moving from comedy to The Orville


As part of their kickoff to the television awards season, Deadline hosted key members of The Orville creative team. Seth MacFarlane discussed stepping from comedy to science fiction with his hit Fox series.

Today, Deadline brought together many of the biggest names in television for their fourth annual The Contenders Emmys event. As part of the event, Deadline hosted a panel for The Orville with creator and star Seth MacFarlane, executive producers Brannon Braga and Jon Cassar and production designer Stephen Lineweaver.

According to Deadline, MacFarlane spoke about the challenges he faced balancing wanting to make a show capable of drama with his history of creating comedic television.

Prior to creating and starring in The Orville, MacFarlane was known for his cartoon comedy writing on shows like Family Guy and American Dad! Neither show really seems like a logical transition into a show based on the storied Star Trek series.

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According to Deadline, MacFarlane said he has been a sci-fi fan since he was young. But, he continued, he didn’t think people would accept a serious science fiction show from him.

Thankfully for all of us, MacFarlane was wrong and Fox has invested two seasons (so far) in The Orville universe. It’s allowed MacFarlane to show off his abilities to combine his comedic mentality with a true respect for the darker themes that appear in great sci-fi tv.

“With an hourlong show, in order to sustain it, you have to have real stakes,” MacFarlane said at the event. “That was my fear at the beginning. If people aren’t with us on that side of it, we’re probably not going to last very long. But they were, so we really leaned into that.”

MacFarlane went on to credit Star Trek for bringing this type of sci-fi show to a mainstream audience. Per Deadline, he told the Contenders Emmys audience that, “you just try to start by learning from what your predecessors have figured out and then take it off in its own direction.”

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The Contenders Emmys is what Deadline bills as “a key launch for the beginning of the race for television’s highest award.” In its fourth year, Deadline has 20 studios and networks signed up to participate, including ABC Studios, Netflix, CBS Television Studios, Comedy Central, Amazon Studios, 20th Century Fox Television, HBO, Hulu and more.

The event includes panels and exclusive clips presented in front of an invited audience. This year, the event was hosted at the Paramount Theatre in Hollywood.