Laugh out loud: Fox's animated comedies renewed for future seasons

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Sarah Passingham / TV Media
Tina, Bob, Louise, Linda and Gene Belcher from "Bob's Burgers"

Tina, Bob, Louise, Linda and Gene Belcher from "Bob's Burgers"

Fox heard that everyone is looking for a laugh these days, so it has renewed its "Animation Domination" block of shows for a new season.

The network was uniquely primed to handle the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic's production shutdowns with already-completed reality and drama series on the slate for its upcoming fall 2020 schedule, and comedy fans can look forward to new episodes of "Bob's Burgers," "The Simpsons," "Bless the Harts" and "Family Guy" in the near-ish future as well -- they've all been renewed for the 2020-21 season.

Animation is a labor-intensive, remote process with long production periods, so the good news is that Fox's "Animation Domination" shows were well on their way to completion before the pandemic shut down anything.

Those four shows make up the network's Sunday night block, but a newcomer to Fox's animated comedy lineup was also renewed, this one for a second season: "Duncanville" tells the story of Duncan Harris, an average teenage boy who lives an elaborate imaginary life where he ascends beyond his awkward, embarrassing 15-year-old existence to a place where he lives out his idealized adulthood. Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") voices Duncan and his mother, Annie, and executive produces the series.

"Bob's Burgers" might be the veteran series among the bunch, but it also has the most on its horizon. Not only was it renewed for its 11th season in May of this year, but a feature-length film is expected to be ready for release in April of next year. Disney, Fox's parent company, announced in April which of its theatrical release dates were being shuffled, and the "Bob's Burgers" movie was on the list, so fans of the show can look forward to what may very well be their first in-theatre experience of the year watching Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene and Louise Belcher get into some trouble in the family restaurant.

Speaking of Fox animation veterans, the network naturally renewed the longest-running American sitcom ever, "The Simpsons," through its 32nd season back in 2019. This upcoming season will include the comedy's 700th episode, an incredible milestone that's like the cherry on top of yet another record that the series broke in Season 31. "The Simpsons" tops the list of American scripted prime-time series with the most episodes, having surpassed the former title-holder, "Gunsmoke," at 636 episodes. "The Simpsons" has been a major influence on popular culture since the first episode aired in 1989, but that doesn't mean that there's no room to grow in 2020.

The animation itself improves with time (I remember being a bit shocked when I saw the animation of the first iteration of "The Simpsons" as a short that my parents had recorded from TV on a VHS tape), and so do the characterizations of Springfield's citizens. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon has been voiced by Hank Azaria ("Brockmire") -- a white, American man -- since the inception of the character.

Jack and Annie from "Duncanville"

Jack and Annie from "Duncanville"

Apu has received criticism, though, as he is portrayed as a stereotype of a South Asian man, and the topic was even the subject explored in the 2017 feature documentary, "The Problem With Apu." While Azaria announced in a statement this year that he will no longer voice the character, with Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," announcing shortly after that Apu will remain on the show, more needs to be done to rebuild Apu than casting a South Asian voice actor to speak for him. The news of an imminent recasting is hopeful, though, and the likelihood of seasons upon seasons of "The Simpsons" in the future means that there could be a lot more to look forward to for Apu.

When "The Simpsons" was renewed back in 2019, "Family Guy" was also promised a spot on Fox's Sunday night lineup through its 19th season. The renewal isn't that much of a surprise since not only has "Family Guy" been on the air for more than two decades, its creator, Seth MacFarlane ("The Orville"), is more powerful than ever, having signed a $200-million deal with NBC Universal this year. MacFarlane may be busy, but that won't stop him from reprising his voice acting duties as Peter Griffin, the bumbling New England husband and father who constantly makes embarrassing situations even worse.

Fox has shown that the network has hope for its fledgling shows, too, renewing "Duncanville" and fellow animated comedy "Bless the Harts" for a second season. The latter really scratches an itch for those missing "King of the Hill." "Bless the Harts" creator Emily Spivey was a story editor on "King of the Hill" and said in an interview with Decider that she had "always loved the sort of gentle, humane humor of the show and how authentic it was to Austin, to Arlen, to Texas," and that she "wanted to do the same thing with North Carolina" in "Bless the Harts."

The series boasts some serious star power in its voice actor cast, despite how down-to-earth its characters are. Kristen Wiig ("Saturday Night Live") voices Jenny Hart, a single mom whose mother, Betty (Maya Rudolph, "Big Mouth"), lives with her and her daughter, Violet (Jillian Bell, "Workaholics"), an artistic, sarcastic teenager.

Fox has given its audiences a lot to look forward to laughing at, so keep an eye out for the return of animated comedies "Bob's Burgers," "The Simpsons," "Bless the Harts" and "Family Guy" this fall and the Season 2 premiere of "Duncanville" sometime in 2021.