The team behind F is for Family is hard at work on Netflix season 5, which is slated for later this year on the service. Last season will see us say goodbye to the Murphy family, who we”ve been talking to since 2015.
The date, F is for family is the second longest-running adult animation show on Netflix, behind only Bojack Horseman. The show has grown a dedicated fan base over the years and received a final fifth season in October 2020.
We”re following all the developments for season 5, but we got a quick chat with Michael Price before last season”s release. We last caught up with Michael Price in 2017 if you want to come back and check it out.
WoN: Hi Michael – thanks for answering a few questions – the last time we asked you was in 2017 if you can believe it – how time flies! We”re getting into the last season of F is for Family, can you talk about your feelings coming into the last season?
Well, it”s bittersweet for sure. I”m sad that the show is ending – this was the first series I”ve created (co-created with Bill Burr) and been the showrunner, and it”s been the biggest, most challenging and most rewarding experience of my career. I”m extremely grateful to Netflix for giving us a chance in 2013 and staying with us for five seasons, but I wish this wasn”t coming to an end. I”ve been lucky enough to work on The Simpsons, which is in season 33 and still running, and I”ve written on many other shows that got canceled without being able to write a proper ending, so this is a first for me – coming up with not just one season. final but a final episode.
We had a lot of fun crafting this last round and I”m really happy with the way we put it to the end. So when our final episodes come out later this year, I will be extremely proud of our achievement, but also very sad to see it go – not only because I love Frank Murphy and his family, but I really love all the amazing writers, actors, artists, editors, producers and everyone else behind the scenes I”ve had the joy of working with over this time.
WoN: Can you talk about some of the production changes (if any) you had during a pandemic? Are you back to full capacity now?
The pandemic changed absolutely everything about the physical production of the show, but ultimately it didn”t change the content in any real way I can tell, with one big exception that I”ll talk about a little bit.
Our last day in the writers room was in mid-February 2020, when I met with Bill Burr and our producers Peter Billingsley and Victoria Vaughn to discuss possible stories for a fifth season yet to be commissioned. Then we had a meeting at Netflix in late February where we presented our ideas to the Netflix team. Then we all went home and we haven”t been in the same room since. When we got in our truck and started writing the new season, it was August 2020, and by then the industry had figured out how to do our kind of work remotely. So we were able to run our writers room at Zoom, and animators in the US and Canada were also able to do all of their work from home. We”ve done all of our table readings via Zoom and now I”m also in the middle of editing completed episodes remotely.
It”s definitely not the same as being there in person, but I really don”t think the final product suffered at all. The one big exception is that during the course of the pandemic we went through the devastating loss of our dear friends and colleagues David Richardson and Marc Wimore, who were the absolute foundation of our writing team. David was a dear friend and the first writer I hired on the team in 2014; and I worked with Marc for almost 20 years on THE PJS and THE SIMPSONS before he joined the writing team for season two.
I could spend hours detailing the great jokes and stories they contributed to the show, not to mention just the joy of being in the writers room with them. They were irreplaceable and, tragically, we lost them within two weeks of each other in January of this year. As I edit these new episodes, I get a little bit distressed when one of his great jokes comes along, or when I hear Marc”s voice playing Kasper, the bartender, or one of the other parts he played on the show. It was sad that we lost these amazing guys, and doubly sad that we weren”t able to get together in person to remember them. But now, thanks to the vaccine, it looks like we might be able to meet again before we close the whole deal – hopefully, one last session in the writers room in a real room as we mark our final episode in late July. And then, of course, we hope to have some kind of proper meeting for the entire cast and crew at the end of the year, when the episodes come out. This will be a very exciting night for all of us, I”m sure.
WoN: Can you talk about any big surprises we can look forward to or special guests we can look forward to in Season 5?
There are certain guests and stories I want to keep secret for now, but I can tell you that we”re going to meet some family members we”ve only heard of before or only seen briefly in flashbacks. Then, on Frank”s side, we”ll see his mother Nora and his sister Eileen and what they”re doing in the “present day” of 1974. Eileen will be voiced by the great Eileen Fogarty, who also voices Evelyn Goomer and Nguyen-Nguyen (whom also we”ll check some this season). I won”t say now who gives voice to the older version of Nora, but I”m going to tease you a little bit to say that she”s one of my all-time favorite actresses, an absolute legend of the theater and screen that I dreamed of working with, and she does a great job with the paper. On Sue”s side, we will finally see her estranged brother Louis, who is voiced by another truly great actor who is well known to TV and Broadway audiences. As Kevin continues his relationship with Alice (Jamie Denbo), we meet his father, who is a child therapist and the opposite of Frank Murphy in almost every way. He is voiced by the great actor Fred Melamed, who stood out in the Coen Brothers movie “A Serious Man” and who has been in almost everything since.
WoN: In our last interview, you mentioned that episode 1 of season 2 was your favorite episode, is that still the case? Do you have a new favorite?
They”re all my babies, of course, and it”s hard to be objective. I have to say that I think this new season contains some of my favorite episodes from the entire series. I wrote episode 1 of season 5 and I think it”s probably my favorite of the ones I”ve written. I can”t tell you what it”s about, of course, but I think it really kicks off the season in a memorable way and with a lot of great jokes and really tough emotional beats. Our sixth episode of this new season is probably my favorite of this new group. It”s written by Sam Stefanak and Jessica Lee Williamson and it”s a bit of a stylistic/narrative prank for us as we use a fragmented timeline to tell an intimate story focusing only on the Murphys and what they”re going through. It”s a bit like “R IS FOR ROSIE” from Season 4, except here we put a break from all the other plots and stories that unfold in the season so that the Murphys spend time together (and separately) to focus on what really matters. is happening in their lives. I love that.
WoN: You”ve said earlier that F is for the family that season 5 is targeting a fall 2021 release date. Is that still the case?
Yes, we”re producing the shows now (we just watched the first full-color animation of episode 4 yesterday) and while we meet our deadlines for finishing the episodes, we hope to be out on Netflix around Thanksgiving. That”s going to be really great, as this final batch of episodes will take place in the late fall of 1974, and we”ll have our first episode set on Thanksgiving Day. Our last two episodes take place during Christmas week and our finale is set on Christmas Day, so the world can spend the holiday season watching a family having a worse Christmas than them!
WoN: A lot has changed regarding the media landscape in recent years – what role do you think animated series like F is for Family will play in a platform”s future success?
Oh, I don”t see it stopping anytime soon. Adult animation was starting to explode before the pandemic, and an offshoot of COVID was that, for a time, it was the only type of scripted content that could be produced, so the boom got even stronger. I”ve seen this format for a long time. There is so much creativity you can do with this.
WoN: In 2017, you told us you were into Lady Dynamite and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – what have you been watching on Netflix lately that you would recommend?
I have been drinking COBRA KAI this week! My friends and FIFF colleagues Joe Piarulli and Luan Thomas are his writers/producers. I miss New York, so I loved RACK THAT IS A TOWN and I loved THIS IS A ROBBERY, about the theft at the Boston art museum. I”m looking forward to the return of STRANGER THINGS and, more especially, Tim Robinson, I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE. I”ll probably inhale as soon as I fall.
WoN: And finally, can you tell us what”s next after F is for Family ends? A new series maybe?
Well, I”m still working on OS SIMPSONS, which is simply the best work any writer could ever want. Also, I”m working on some new stuff that I can”t talk about yet, but one of them is an animated project that will hopefully find a home on Netflix – in which case, maybe we can meet again in a year or so to talk. about this!
WoN: Thanks for taking the time and we”re looking forward to seeing the last season on Netflix!