It is no surprise that Seth MacFarlane’s first feature-length film is a comedy involving a perverted, sluggish, crude teddy bear.
Ted, which is set to hit movie theaters nationwide Friday, is the story of how one man’s teddy bear can get in the way of him reaching adulthood. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and MacFarlane himself, as the voice of the teddy bear, the movie should not disappoint.
MacFarlane is a modern day renaissance man: he is a director, actor, singer, comedian, and screenwriter. He does it all. Yet, what he is most known for is being the creator of hit animated TV comedy series Family Guy, and co-creator of fellow animated comedy series American Dad! and The Cleveland Show.
I would bet that almost everybody between the ages of 10 and 30 has seen at least one episode of a Seth MacFarlane animated comedy. But the question remains, what is the mass appeal? What accounts for the success of specifically the animated TV comedy?
MacFarlane’s Family Guy has quite an impressive resume. The show, which premiered in 1998, has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, (winning four of them,) and for six Golden Reel Awards (for sound editing), winning three times. TV Guide named Family Guy the 15th biggest cult show of all time, and British magazine Empire named it as the 12th greatest TV show of all time.
Arguably one of the most famous American TV shows of all time is The Simpsons, an animated comedy created by Matt Groening. The show, which first debuted in December of 1989, is the world’s longest running sitcom (in terms of episodes) and the longest-running American prime time scripted television series notwithstanding the fact that it is an animation. Time Magazine, in 1999, named The Simpsons as the century’s best television series as well as Bart Simpson one of the century’s 100 most influential people. Going one step further, Empire magazine named The Simpsons the greatest TV show of all time. They even have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I can say with confidence that the majority of America is able to hum the tune to its intro and knows that Homer Simpson’s legendary exclamation is “D'oh!”
Regardless of the immense amount of accolades that animated shows have received, there is an unquantifiable aspect to their charm. Regardless of how unfiltered they are, they instill a sense of warmth that cannot be achieved by a live action picture; the larger than life colors, voices, and sounds of animation are infectious. Even though the characters are not real, for those 30 minutes, they are.
In short, animated TV shows, however vulgar, make us feel like kids again, just as the teddy bear in the movie Ted makes Mark Wahlberg continue to feel young. No matter what age you are, go out and see MacFarlane’s Ted.