The team behind F is for Family is hard at work on season 5 for Netflix which is planned for later this year on the service. The final season will see us say goodbye to the Murphy family who we’ve been checking in with since 2015.
To date, F is for Family is the second longest-running adult animated show on Netflix only behind Bojack Horseman. The show has grown a dedicated fanbase throughout the years and was given a final fifth season back in October 2020.
We’ve been tracking all the developments for season 5 but we managed to have a quick chat with Michael Price ahead of the final season releasing. We last talked to Michael Price way back in 2017 if you fancy going back and checking that out.
WoN: Hi Michael – thanks for taking the time to answer some questions – we last asked you questions back in 2017 if you can believe it – how time flies! We’re coming up on the final season of F is for Family, can you talk about your feelings going into the final season?
Well, it’s bittersweet, to be sure. I’m sad that the show is ending – this was the first series that I created (co-created with Bill Burr) and was the showrunner on, and it’s been the greatest, most challenging and most rewarding experience of my career. I’m extremely grateful to Netflix for taking a chance on us back in 2013 and sticking with us through five seasons, but I wish it wasn’t coming to an end. I’ve been lucky to work on The Simpsons, which is in Season 33 and still running, and I’ve written on many other shows that were cancelled without getting to write a proper finale, so this is a first for me – coming up with not just a final season but a final episode.
We’ve had a great deal of fun crafting this last go-round and I’m very happy with how we bring it to an end. So, when our final episodes come out later this year, I’ll be extremely proud of our achievement, but also very sad to see it go — not just because I love Frank Murphy and his family, but I truly love all the incredible writers, actors, artists, editors, producers and everyone else behind the scenes that I’ve had the joy to work with over this time.
WoN: Can you talk about some of the changes to production (if any) you’ve had working through a pandemic? Are you back to full capacity now?
The pandemic changed absolutely everything about the physical production of the show, but ultimately didn’t change the content in any real way that I can tell, with one huge exception that I’ll talk about in a bit.
Our last day in the writers room was in mid-February 2020, when I gathered with Bill Burr and our producers Peter Billingsley and Victoria Vaughn to discuss possible storylines for a yet-to-be-ordered Season Five. We then had a meeting at Netflix at the very end of 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. By the time we got our pickup and started writing the new season it was August 2020, and by then the industry had already figured out how to do our kind of work remotely. So, we were able to conduct our writers room on Zoom, and the animators in the US and Canada were able to do all of their work from home as well. We did all of our table reads via Zoom, and I’m now in the middle of editing completed episodes remotely as well.
It’s definitely not the same as being there in person, but I really don’t think the end product has suffered in any way. The one huge exception is that over 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 bedrock of our writing staff. David was a dear friend and the first writer I hired on staff in 2014; and I had worked with Marc for almost 20 years on THE PJS and THE SIMPSONS before he joined the writing staff for Season 2.
I could spend hours detailing the great jokes and storylines they contributed to the show, not to mention just the joy of being in a writers room with them. They were irreplaceable, and tragically we lost them within about two weeks of each other in January of this year. As I edit these new episodes I get a little pang as one of their great jokes go by, or when I hear Marc’s voice playing Kasper the bartender or one of other parts he did on the show. It was sad that we lost these amazing guys, and doubly sad that we weren’t able to gather in person to remember them. But now, thanks to the vaccine, it looks like we’ll be able to meet up again before we put a bow on the whole deal – hopefully one last writers room session in an actual room as we punch up our final episode in late July. And then, of course, we hope to have some kind of proper get-together for the whole cast and crew later in the year when the episodes come out. That will be a very emotional evening for all of us, I’m sure.
WoN: Can you talk about any big surprises we can expect or special guests we can expect to see in season 5?
There are certain guests and storylines I want to keep under wraps right now, but I can tell you that we’ll meet a few members of the family that we’ve either only heard about before or only seen briefly in flashbacks. So on Frank’s side, we’ll see his mother Nora and little sister Eileen and what they’re up to in the “present day” of 1974. Eileen will be voiced by the great Eileen Fogarty, who also voices Evelyn Goomer and Nguyen-Nguyen (who we’ll also check in on some this season). I won’t say now who voices the older version of Nora, but I will tease you a bit to say it’s one of my favorite actresses of all time, an absolute legend of the theatre and screen who it was my dream to get to work with, and she does a great job with the part. On Sue’s side, we’ll finally get to see her estranged brother Louis, who is voiced by another truly great actor who is very well known to TV and Broadway audiences. As Kevin continues his relationship with Alice (Jamie Denbo) we’ll get to meet her Dad, who is a child therapist and the complete opposite of Frank Murphy in almost every way. He’s voiced by the great actor Fred Melamed, who was outstanding in the Coen Brothers film “A Serious Man”, and who has been in just about everything since.
WoN: In our last interview you mentioned that season 2 episode 1 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 will say that I think this new season has some of my favorite episodes of the whole series in it. 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 the season off 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 bunch. It’s written by Sam Stefanak and Jessica Lee Williamson and it’s a bit of a stylistic/storytelling departure for us, in that we use a fractured timeline to tell an intimate story focusing solely on the Murphys and what they’re going through. It’s a little bit like Season 4’s “R IS FOR ROSIE”, except here we put a pause in all of the other plots and storylines spinning out in the season for the Murphys to spend time together (and separately) to focus on what’s really going on in their lives. I love it.
WoN: You’ve previously said F is for Family 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 color animation of episode 4 yesterday) and as long as we make our deadlines to finish the episodes, we’re looking to be out on Netflix somewhere around Thanksgiving. This will be really great, as this final batch of episodes take place during the late fall of 1974, and we have our first ever episode set on Thanksgiving. 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 with regards to the media landscape in recent years – how much of a role do you think animated series like F is for Family will play in the success of a platform going forward?
Oh, I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. Adult animation was starting to boom before the pandemic, and one offshoot of COVID was that for a time it was the only kind of scripted content that could be produced, so the boom got even boomier. I see this format being around for a long time. There’s just so much creativity you can do with it.
WoN: Back in 2017, you told us you were enjoying Lady Dynamite and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – what have you been watching on Netflix recently that you’d recommend?
I’ve been bingeing COBRA KAI this week! My friends and FIFF colleagues Joe Piarulli and Luan Thomas are writers/producers on it. I miss New York, so I really loved PRETEND IT’S A CITY, and I loved THIS IS A ROBBERY, about the theft at the Boston art museum. I’m eagerly awaiting the return of STRANGER THINGS and, most especially Tim Robinson’s I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE. I’ll probably inhale that as soon as it drops.
WoN: And finally, can you let us know what’s next for you after F is for Family wraps up? A new series perhaps?
Well, I’m still working on THE SIMPSONS, which is simply the greatest job any writer could ever want. Aside from that, I’m working on a couple of new things that I can’t really 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 up again in a year or so to talk about that!
WoN: Thanks for taking the time and we’re looking forward to seeing the final season on Netflix!