Newsarama tried to stealthily ask showrunner Al Jean why he’s been showrunner for the past nine years, and he answered that the writers haven’t been getting offers to work on other comedies and that comedy might finally be back on the upswing. I guess all those Judd Apatow-produced movies and animated comedies (some of them not created by Seth MacFarlane) and single-camera sitcoms like Arrested Development and The Office that have popped up in the past couple of years were actually part of a downswing?
Nrama: But haven’t you always had a philosophy of keeping the writers rotating? It kept new blood flowing.
Jean: Well, it was never a philosophy. There were two dynamics at work. In the 1990’s, there were a lot of comedies on the air. People who were on ‘The Simpsons’ got all these offers to work elsewhere. So they would leave, often to head their own projects. So we’d replace them.
This decade, unfortunately, comedy has not been doing so well. If people are doing a good job, then I keep them. So it doesn’t rotate as much. Still, I’m encouraged by this year’s ratings. Comedy might be back on the upswing. ‘American Family’ has started off really well.