Casting Futurama at Fox was a grueling process for Matt Groening
Simon Singh’s “The Simpsons and Their Math Secrets” tackles the creation of its sister series subject. “Futurama” was the child not only of Groening, but also of “Simpsons” writer David X. Cohen, who, as a science and a sci-fi nerd, was the perfect fit to flesh out the show’s setting and satirize tropes. Part of that satire is in the setting; the world of “Futurama” is quite similar to ours, just with spaceships and robots. If it leans more towards dystopia than utopia, it’s only because modernity does too.
The “Simpsons” and “Futurama” share the same pop culture-flavored sense of humor and fast-paced comic book delivery, but their comedic setups differ. While “The Simpsons” is a family sitcom, “Futurama” is a workplace sitcom, about the staff of a small delivery company. The twist? The show is set 1000 years in the future and the company is “Planet Express”, which delivers across the universe.
On “The Simpsons”, developer James L. Brooks had brokered a good deal for the writers room; Fox executives have no right to interfere with the show’s production or edit its content. Although “The Simpsons” would become one of Fox’s biggest hits, the network was reluctant to give Groening a similar deal on “Futurama.”