I think 'Family Guy' and 'American Dad' have definitely staked out their own style and territory, and now the accusations are coming that 'The Simpsons' is taking jokes from 'Family Guy.' And I can tell you, that ain't the case.
I've loved science fiction ever since I was a little kid, mainly from looking at the covers of science-fiction magazines and books, and I've read quite extensively as an adult.
It's a funny show. The characters are surprisingly likable, given how ugly they are. We've got this huge cast of characters that we can move around. And over the last few seasons, we've explored some of the secondary characters' personal lives a bit more.
Our solution on 'The Simpsons' is to do jokes that people who have an education, or some frame of reference, can get. And for the ones who don't, it doesn't matter, because we have Homer banging his head and saying, 'D'oh!'
Since I was there in the very beginning, I know the history of the characters. So, I make comments about the tone and sometimes remind the writers that we've done that before.
Sometimes people get mad at The Simpsons' subversive story telling, but there's another message in there, which is a celebration of making wild, funny stories.
We've got a bunch of new writers now who tell me they grew up watching The Simpsons. It's bizarre, and they're writing some very funny stuff.