***This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. ’22 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 323)***
The wonderfully talented and hilarious sisters Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin have a big place in the hearts of animation fans (and this magazine’s staffers) for being writers on Bob’s Burgers and creating FOX’s charming show The Great North (with Minty Lewis), which begins its third season this month. We had a chance to have a Zoom chat with the Emmy-winning duo, who just extended their overall deal with 20th Television Animation, about what to expect to see on their show this fall. Here is what they told us:
Congrats on the new season of your popular show. We know you just went back to a real writers room to start working on the fourth season for 2024.
Wendy: Yes, we haven’t worked in a room for over two years, so it’s been very exciting. I had to adjust my deodorant level for working in groups. In fact, I have one in my backpack and I’m ready to go! This year, we have 15 writers including Lizzie and myself.
What can we expect in the third season?
Wendy: We have a lot of Tobin-based episodes and we’re going to learn more about the traditions of the town of Lone Moose, Alaska, including the Moose Poop Festival based on a real one held in Talkeetna. We also find out about a sausage-based boys’ pageant in which Ham [voiced by Paul Rust] and Moon [Aparna Nancherla] participate, and we find out a dark history for their dad Beef [Nick Offerman] and his dad.
We have some really fun only-in-Alaska episodes coming up and also some great guest stars new and returning, including the return of Guy Fieri in a very special Halloween episode.
We have a line-up of today’s favorite comics like John Early, Patti Harrison (Debbie), John Gemberling and Nicole Byer as our guest voices. Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) guest voices on the premiere episode.
What were your favorite episodes and the most challenging ones to date?
Lizzie: The most challenging was the water park episode in season two. It’s always hard to animate water, and we built a whole episode full of water, but it turned out beautifully. It was such a fun episode and it turned out so great to see it all come together.
Wendy: I am a real holiday freak and I just enjoy seeing Beef and Jerry [Ron Funches] spend time together. In the holiday episode, Jerry’s costume gets stolen and they go on a Big Lebowski-esque journey through the underbelly of Lone Moose, which also includes meeting Lone Moose’s villain, Dick Chateau, played by Tony-nominated British actor Adam Godley. It is always great to con these fancy actors to do some animation. He really brought that character to life. I also enjoyed our first musical episode, seeing Ham join a punk band was also a lot of fun, but I enjoy all our episodes. They’re all our children.
Were you just totally starstruck with any of your guest stars?
Lizzie: I would say in the waterpark episode (the “Slide & Wet-judice Adventure”), It was so much fun to record with Pam Grier. She is such a legend and was so hilarious.
Wendy: I definitely am an absolute freak for musical theater people, so when we got Patti LuPone on the “Tasteful Noods Adventure” episode of Season Two, I told her, “Patti, you are lucky we are recording on Zoom, because if we worked together, you wouldn’t be safe! I would steal your scarf or purse, just to have something of yours!” It’s good that we were at a distance, because I have worshipped Patti LuPone ever since I was a child … After speaking to her, I should have just walked into the ocean because basically, that was probably as good as it gets!
Which episode generated the most response from viewers and which ones were you most touched by?
Lizzie: We definitely got a lot of response from the episode in Season One in which Ham and Crispin [Julio Torres] first get together (“Pride & Prejudice Adventure”) and the episode in Season Two where Ham tries to redo his coming out with more drama (“Say It Again, Ham Adventure”). I think maybe it’s unusual to see a young gay male couple who are in their teens and are accepted by the people around them. And, they’re also very funny. I know that growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, it was tough to find super positive, stable representations of LGBTQ+ youths on air. A lot of the contributions on our staff have been from our writer Charlie Kelly. It’s been great to see young people watching that are connecting with that, because cartoons can’t save the world, but at least maybe we can make it .0005 percent better!
Any advice for young people who want to work in animation?
Wendy: I think it’s a really exciting time in animation. All boats rise together, so when you see something cool and exciting on another show that inspires you do something more within your own show and to push yourselves. Our amazing artists at Bento Box show us stuff that we never would have thought of. I know there are always expansions and retractions in the business, but I think we have limitless possibilities for new voices today. We’ve seen a huge increase in representation for females, POC and non-binary creatives. Everyone used to think about animation as a mostly male industry, but we have many new faces and voices now, and as that continues, it just keeps getting better.
Lizzie: The great thing about animation is that there is no limit to what you can do. It’s an exciting world to work in, and to those who are interested in it, I’d say, “Go for it!.” The more, the merrier!
Which toons made a big impact on you when you were growing up?
Lizzie: I grew up on The Simpsons … I remember coming home early from trick or treating to watch the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes. When I was in elementary school, it was so exciting to see an animated show that was so funny and my older siblings and parents could also enjoy it with me.
Wendy: Our dad always showed us what he had liked, so he got VHS copies of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show and Mr. Peabody and Sherman shorts, and I used to love those as a kid. In high school and college, my brother and I were big fans of Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Dr. Katz, which was our introduction to Loren Bouchard. We would get home early and watch those shows, just vegging out on the couch — totally sober, for the record! There had been no marijuana and alcohol use when we enjoyed those cartoons!
One thing about animation is that it creates its own fandoms and because it’s fun to share it’s fun to watch together and have those inside jokes. I know Bob’s Burgers has certainly produced those groups of fans, so it’s just fun to be part of that tradition, knowing that there are other kids coming home late from college and watching some animation before they hit the hay.
Season Three of The Great North premieres on FOX on September 25.