After knocking it out of the park with The Simpsons, Mat Groening set out to do it again – and boy did he. Futurama persists as one of the most enduring and relevant animated shows to grace the airwaves to date. But why?
It’s hard to pin down just one thing, but the success of Futurama is undeniable. Despite the up-and-down history the show has had with its distributors, the story of Fry, Lela, Bender and Co. along with their intergalactic delivery service is more than just The Simpsons in space – and has earned its fervent support base over the years.
For the uninitiated, the show is set in the 31st century after pizza delivery boy Fry accidentally freezes himself in cryostasis for 1000 years. Shortly after waking up in new millennium, the hijinks start and don’t stop. While Futurama offers plenty in the ways of creativity in regard to alien settings, the core that the show revolves around remains one of life lessons and moral values – peppered in with grim jokes that never stop coming.
That proclivity to dip more than just their toe into the dark side is what makes Futurama stand apart from the yellow-skinned relatives it has over in The Simpsons – though not for lack of references. With another audience in mind, Groening proved that he was able to deliver much of the same humor and wit that elevated The Simpsons to their lofty perch while taking harder jabs at societal issues.
Yes, over the years Futurama has gotten its word in more than once, but somewhere along the line viewership started to plummet. Perhaps its once-relevant voice faded in in the shadow of newer and louder shows, or perhaps its audience grew tired of the same characters. Thankfully, the show manage to run for quite some time even beyond its supposed “cancellation” at the hands of Fox Executives.
Throughout its entirety, Futurama presented itself not as a satirical vision of the far future, but rather as a reflection of our contemporary society – and while it never reached the fervor that shows like Rick and Morty have, one could argue that they laid the foundation for the perpetually alcoholic genius and his grandson.
While not as verbose or elaborate as Rick and Morty tends to be, Futurama featured exquisitely crafted asides and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quotes at a breakneck speed long before Rick and Morty’s adventures were ever a twinkle in Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s eye.
We can’t help but think that should Futurama hit the scene several years later, things would be different. And yet, there’s no point in musing over hypotheticals. While the cancellation of the series is lamentable something tells us that we haven’t seen the last of Futurama – and we’re willing to bet it won’t be long before our favorite kleptomaniacal robot is back on the screen.