Into The Wild West of Animated Comedy: A Few Minutes with the Creators of ‘Drawn Together’

Posted in Interviews, TV, TV On DVD by - October 16, 2017
Into The Wild West of Animated Comedy: A Few Minutes with the Creators of ‘Drawn Together’

Anybody remember the halcyon days of reality TV?

They weren’t that long ago when TV lineups were rife with contest shows with people trapped on an island, giving roses to people, dancing, going to rehab…and really they still are.  However that’s why when a satire comes around that actually takes the piss out of something that is happening in the moment, it’s actually kind of a shocking thing.

Enter Drawn Together of which the complete collection is now available on DVD at retailers everywhere which asks the questions of if “Cartoon Characters really co-exist with one another in a peaceful fashion?”  from 2004-2007 (with an eventual movie in 2010) it was TV’s first animated reality show taking eight different characters from across the animated universe, putting them in mansion with thousands of cameras, an unlimited open bar, hot tubs and any other kind of debauchery that you could possibly think of with some hilarious results.

In advance of the release of this set, I got the chance to sit down and talk with the creators of the show, Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein and since this really did feel like something that was so ahead of the curve at the time I asked about what really was the genesis to get Drawn Together… together and they had this to say…

“Well we had been working on a lot of sitcoms and were just getting sick and tired of seeing the best jokes being left in the writer’s room.  For one reason or another the funniest things that anybody said just weren’t getting into the scripts because they were too edgy or it hurt the character and we had both always wanted to make something where the funniest things always made it on the show.  So we got together and we had always both loved animation and we hired a bunch of funny, weird, crazy people that more than likely would have never been hired on any other show and we just shaped the show that our goal of the funniest things to come out of the room would always make it to the product.”

It really is the kind of show that was just really keyed and in tune to the times and while there has always been satirical animated content out there, at least to my knowledge this was the first one that went full on spoof in making fun of the reality TV complex which was just booming back in 2004, and they had this to say…

“I’d say for about the first 10 minutes of the pilot that would be accurate and we were doing a straight spoof…but then it just went entirely off the rails and we did whatever we thought was funny.  While we did keep the framework for the most part we went off on any kind of tangents we felt like.”

Existing in a world where something like South Park was also pretty fresh, having the right partners to work and make a show where you are mocking someone else’s intellectual property so closely that you may very well be sued can be a dicey area to work in but by the sounds of it these guys has some game partner in these kinds of shenanigans.

“We basically had the greatest lawyer of all time! (Laughs) He found the show to be such a great legal challenge with such simple little touches that would protect us like if we wanted a character to look like Betty Boop we had to make sure she had four eyelashes instead of three!  It was crazy but he also really wanted to challenge some of the parody laws and he was just so exciting to work with.  I mean there was even a point where we were going pretty hard on Bill Cosby to the point that we actually got a cease and desist letter from his attorney but our guys said ‘nope’, everything you are doing and saying is on public record that he is a scumbag so keeping going…and we did.”

“And while on the creative side, we did love working with Comedy Central they did have to reign us in on some occasions if only because while they were enjoying the show, by episode 2 or 3 it really wasn’t what we had sold them on, and we can’t argue with that, especially since the show which was supposed to lean more on the reality TV show aspects just descended into characters wondering if you can have sex with a mentally disabled person, and in our universe, you most certainly could.” (Laughs)

For something to hold up and feel as fresh and funny as this show still does now 13 years later you know there has to be a certain amount of love there because it still evokes a reaction, even from its creators…

“We loved the show as well and we’re so happy that it still holds up because we watch it even now and wonder how the hell we got away with some of the things that we did?  And really the reason why we did is because we were just so damn stubborn, we’d come into the office at around 10 AM, then we’d argue with the network on what we could do until about 7PM and then we’d go write the show”

“Plus at that time the pendulum of comedy was just all the way over the other side with the things that Family Guy and South Park were doing so we knew we could push the line when it was already pretty far over and I think towards the end of our run was when it started to push back just a little bit and I’m glad we did the show when we did because I don’t think you could make it these days.  We got in and got out at just the right time and to even come close these days would be incredibly difficult”

It may have very well been a ‘Wild West’ type of scenario for animated comedy at that time with shows like South Park & Family Guy percolating at that time, and they didn’t disagree.

“Oh, I think your right, especially with the groundwork that The Simpsons had laid down making it OK to have animation for adults.  Granted it had a sweeter tone to it, but it was always for adults.  Then when Family Guy, South Park and we came along it was like this downpour of adult comedy to the point that we may have even broke it! (Laughs)

Drawn Together: The Complete Collection is now available from all major retailers.

Drawn Together: The Complete Collection

This post was written by

David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.