From Family Guy to Science Guy
Sarah Scannell '15
SI students know Seth MacFarlane as the funny man behind Family Guy, whose crude sense of humor infamously dances on the border of good taste. With this in mind, it may seem a little unexpected that he is responsible for an educational science program called Cosmos. "Family Guy is amazing: it's creative, funny, and has some really good commentaries. I kind of expected Cosmos to be a comedy show because it was Seth MacFarlane," exclaims Ryan Dutton’15. Last November, MacFarlane was a guest speaker at a ceremony celebrating pioneering astrobiologist, Carl Sagan, at the library of Congress. MacFarlane spoke to a crowd of Ph.D.s and NASA advisers on how scientific achievement has "ceased in many parts of this country to be a source of pride." MacFarlane then announced that he would act as executive producer and prime mover of a resurrected version of Sagan's popular 1980s PBS documentary series Cosmos, winner of three Emmys. The program debuted in early March, simultaneously broadcasted on Fox, the National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, Fox Sports 1 and 2, and several other Fox- owned outlets.
MacFarlane praised the original Cosmos for presenting the human being “in a wonderful candy-coated way for those of us who are not scientists, and yet it didn’t dumb anything down.”
MacFarlane said that he decided to bring back Cosmos because he hopes that this 13-episode program will have the same influence on youth today that it did on him. He, as well as many other scientific minds, fears that the skepticism prevalent among today’s youth is stopping them from appreciating the wonder that scientific learning can provide.
As a viewer of the show, David Halsey declares, “I think the show is unbelievably cool but kind of corny."
On a similar note, Indianna Madden claims, “It’s perfect. We don't really have anything like that anymore. I know my sisters don't watch stuff like that." Unlike most people, Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow and a Cosmos collaborator, was not surprised by MacFarlane's admiration for Cosmos. She commented, “Many observations in ‘Family Guy’ and Seth’s other shows obviously declare his contempt for all kinds of foolishness. So, of course, he loves science.”
In this age of television, an education program like Cosmos may not seem like something a network like Fox would endorse; however, Peter Rice, the chairman and chief executive of the Fox Networks Group, said that he did not hesitate to resurrect the show because “there are few documentaries that are that old and that still have any resonance with an audience." The show with all it had to teach also provided personal reflections on problems of the day; in Sagan's case, it was a fear of a catastrophic nuclear holocaust. To- day the show might consider commenting on politically inflammatory topics related to science and nature. MacFarlane claims, "There are no politics in Cosmos. All Cosmos does is present what we know in the most fun, entertaining way possible."
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane crosses over.
Choose groups to clone to: