‘Dads’ Showrunners Shrug Off Controversy: ‘It's Pretty Much One Guy Who's Offended’

'Dads' Showrunners Shrug Off Controversy: 'It's Pretty Much One Guy Who's Offended'

The Fox comedy has been getting quite a bit of attention for its material, which is not such a bad thing the show's bosses say

The executive producers on Fox's “Dads” are hoping that the old adage, “There's no such thing as bad press,” holds true for network sitcoms.

“Dads” has been the subject of scrutiny over some of its material, which some say is more overtly racist than edgy and funny.

Or if you ask the men behind the series, really just one person says that.

Also read: Fox Rebuffs Asian-American Group’s Request to Re-Shoot ‘Dads’ Pilot

“It's pretty much one guy who's offended,” Executive Producer Mike Scully said. “I've dealt with him before on ‘The Simpsons’ 10 years ago. He just sits at home waiting to be offended and just fires off letters. And unfortunately networks actually listen to him sometimes.”

That one guy is actually named “Guy.”

Guy Aoki is the founder and president of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA). He is also not a big fan of the fall comedy, which stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as video game creators. It also stars Brenda Song, an Asian-American actress who plays Veronica, their VP of Game Development.

In the pilot episode of “Dads,” the guys convince Veronica to dress up as a giggly “Asian schoolgirl” to win a contract with Chinese businessmen. In a series of letters to Fox executives, Aoki called the scene “demeaning” and “racially and sexually offensive to Asian Americans.”

Also read: TCA: Is Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Dads’ Racist or Calling Out Racism?

Fellow EPs Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild are no strangers to strong reactions to their comedy either. The writing partners dealt with a similar situation on “Family Guy.” Their adversary there was the Parent Television Council.

Of course, part of the possible “Dads” blowback can be attributed to the differences that the executive producers — who have all made their bones in animation — see between cartoon humor and stage humor.

“On ‘The Simpsons,’ we have Homer strangling Bart, which is a lot of fun in animation,” Scully told TheWrap. “But if you saw it live-action — if you saw Ray Romano strangling his kids it would be horrifying.”

“With a cartoon, literally the word itself implies an element of fantasy about it — or unreality,” Sulkin added. “But when they're doing it live in front of an audience … it does have a different feeling to it.”

Also read: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s’ Joe Lo Truglio: It’s More ‘Barney Miller’ Than ‘Police Academy’

Whether viewers at home laugh or not is up to personal sensibilities and individual senses of humor. But the executive producers want you to know that there is no laugh track on “Dads,” and the laughter you hear on screen in legitimate.

“Dads” is actually Fox's only multi-camera sitcom — therefore it is the network's only comedy show that films before a live studio audience, a lost genre in modern television. The showrunners throw “How I Met Your Mother” under the bus as the only show on TV that uses a real laugh track.

With four episodes in the can, so far, so good with the live studio audiences. If anyone has been offended in the bleachers, the EPs haven't heard about it.

Sulkin is staying optimistic about the show, which may be hard for the more 550,000 people who follow his cynical — yet often hilarious — Twitter handle (@thesulk) to believe.

“I don't like to say the controversy has helped us, because we really don't know yet; we haven't premiered,” Sulkin said. “But I feel like, in a fall season where there are so many shows coming out and everyone's trying to get some kind of attention, we've really gotten a lot.”

They'll know soon enough.

“Dads” airs Tuesdays at 8 pm. ET on Fox

  • hupto

    In the scene in question, Veronica agrees to donning the outfit, then adds, “I'm promoting myself to VP of Game Development and taking next week off.” They meekly agree. A momentary degradation, yes, but she ultimately got the better of them…much the same way Rochester frequently did with Jack Benny.

  • singabob

    :”Dads” is an absolutely forgettable show and Mr. Aoki helped this show's fifteen minutes last to sixteen. Let's move on…

  • Will

    Even if the incident in question isn't as problematic as it was made to seem I don't know how comfortable I am with idea that a show run by two white guys and dollars to donuts is written by white writers is so willing to ignore the complaints of a person of color. What's worse about this is he welcomes any publicity accusation of racism affords the show rather than being even slightly bothered by offending an Asian American. That Brenda Son is herself Asian American and agreed to do the scene doesn't hold up when you consider she wouldn't be the first person of color to value a paycheck over personal morals.

    Also comparing their show and How I Met Your Mother wasn't the wisest choice since HIMYM would later do Yellowface and I'm sure their audience, EPs, and white writers and actors thought that was funny too…