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Arlene Klasky
"Gabor and I learned so much from having The Simpsons in our studio, and learned so much about how important writing is to animation."
Emru Townsend: What about adult audiences?

Arlene Klasky: Adults love it! It blows my mind. Adults love it. It was originally written on two levels. It was really written so that parents that have kids knew all the in-jokes. But now people are watching it that don't even have children. I think there's a lot of cultural, kind of, I don't know, jokes in there, not quite trendy, but nineties sort of comedy in there, that people pick up on, because Tommy and Chuckie, they live now.

Like Didi's over-reliance on Dr. Lipschitz...

Yeah, he's like Dr. Spock...

Yeah, and her incredible mastery of '90's psychobabble.

Right. Exactly, that's really what it's all about. And originally when my kids were younger, I used to read every book on early childhood development, and then I read it a second time when my second kid came along. That's all I read. I just stopped reading normal books [laughs], because I was just so terrified of raising these children the right way.

I've found that it's one of those shows where either you must be a kid, have a kid, or relate to kids to really like it. The few people I know who don't like it either are people who don't like kids, or who say the writing is good, but they don't like the drawing style--they say the drawing is "ugly."

That's really interesting. The drawing is pretty good.

I suspect that it's because it's not in your traditional Western style.

Well, it's more Eastern--originally it looked more Eastern European in its original design. Well, not even Eastern European, I shouldn't say that, because we did the original characters, some of it, and then Peter Chung did the original design of the pilot, which was really beautiful. We got a little bit off mark, actually, as we went along with it, we didn't have one designer just watching it like we do now. On all of our shows we have one designer who sticks with it all the way through and keeps it on mark.

That's sort of staying away from the purely, I don't know how to describe it...

I know, the traditional, um, I don't want to refer it to any particular company, but traditional American kind of animation. It doesn't really look like that.

Sort of the same appeal as the first few seasons of The Simpsons as well, because you also experimented more with different styles, like in certain dream sequences, which of course reminded me of short films that I loved to watch in film festivals, but which many people don't care for.

The Simpsons is a great show. Gabor and I learned so much from having The Simpsons in our studio, and learned so much about how important writing is to animation.

But you've never encountered that sentiment?

About it being ugly? Not here we haven't, but I'll tell you what we have on our other stuff. I've heard kids say, "Oh, I know [Real] Monsters, I can tell it's by the same people that do Rugrats because it looks like it." Well, we always try to make our stuff look different, it does look different, but the thing is, it looks so different from regular Saturday morning fare, that kids recognize that it's different, that it might be the same [studio].

Despite the fact that it has a different design from Rugrats, it's different enough from everything else.

Yeah! Monsters is completely different. Santo Bugito is completely different. But because they're so different, they look... You know, our stuff has kind of an Eastern European look, we have a whole slew of Russian and Hungarian and other European designers and artists here. We attract them and we're also attracted to them. That's really our bent. We want something that looks different.

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Originally printed in fps #8 (Winter 1996)