The “Family Guy” mailer, now being sent to voters, features Peter Griffin, looking a lot like Jon Snow on the Season 8 poster of “Game of Thrones.” At his foot, Brian the dog is doing his best direwolf cosplay. (Scroll to the bottom to see the full screener image.)
“Due to a printing error, if you wish to vote for ‘Game of Thrones,’ please check the ‘Family Guy’ box on the animation ballot,” the screener reads.
“If you look very closely, amidst the artwork is a Starbucks cup,” joked “Family Guy” executive producer Rich Appel. (The screener, of course, was produced months ago, so there was no way to add a last-minute gag. “That whole thing, it’s finally proof that they’re human,” Appel said of this week’s coffee continuity gaffe.)
Appel said the show ran the screener gag by HBO to make sure they were OK with it — and to make clear that, no, “Family Guy” was not actually condoning voter fraud.
“Our position was, ‘Game of Thrones voters’ are very intelligent because they appreciate a very smart, sophisticated show with high-end storytelling, so we felt the chances for confusion were slim,” he said. “But we reached out to HBO and they loved it. They signed off on it quickly. Now having said that, if we were to get, I don’t know, 1,500 Game of Thrones voters by accident, we would take them.”
“Family Guy” and 20th Century Fox TV also ran the screener by the Television Academy, which said it was OK as long as HBO signed off on the idea.
The idea for the “Game of Thrones” shoutout came out of the simple fact that the show’s writing staff, like much of America, is obsessed with the drama. The show has parodied “Thrones” several times over the years
“Whatever start time we have on Monday you can add 40 minutes so there’s a complete download of the previous night,” Appel said. “And then I usually note you realize our show was also on last night?”
Indeed, the irony here is that “Family Guy” airs on Fox at 9 p.m. on Sundays — directly opposite “Thrones.”
“It’s never a great time when half your writers are DVR’ing another show but in their defense, they vaguely remember what’s supposed to happen on our show,” Appel said.
“Family Guy” is campaigning in the outstanding animated program category, and selected two episodes for consideration that appear on the screener “Trump Guy,” written by Patrick Meighan and directed by Joe Vaux (original airdate: Jan. 13, 2019); and “Island Adventure,” written by Steve Callaghan and directed by Jerry Langford (original airdate: March 31, 2019).
The animated Fox comedy has been known for its provocative awards campaign mailers — last year, for example, the show mocked Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Hollywood’s assault scandals. Screeners prior to that took on Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump, “Girls” and the film “Precious.” In 2012, the show campaigned in the outstanding comedy category and ruffled a few feathers with this plea: “Come on, you bloated, overprivileged Brentwood Jews. Let us into your little club.”
But this is it for the DVD mailers, at least in their current form: As of next year, the TV Academy has ruled that networks and studios can no longer mail out the physical screeners and box sets. But the Academy is expected to come up soon with an alternate system — and shows like “Family Guy” will still be able to share episodes in their own unique ways, just in other forms.
Here’s the full image from this year’s “Family Guy” screener: