Seth MacFarlane Is a Force for Good

The king of the offensive aside has a surprising hobby: educational television.

Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and Ted, is ubiquitous. A Million Ways To Die In the West, which he wrote and stars in, is holding onto #11 at the Box Office, Ted 2 is in production, and Family Guy will begin Season 13 in the fall. He’s a writer, actor, singer (seriously, he released an album of American standards), producer, director, animator, and – this is something of a shocking turn – educator. MacFarlane puts his money where Stewie’s mouth is by lending his support to programs designed to help viewers avoid the sort of ignorance embodied by Peter Griffin.

As one of the executive producers of the science documentary series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, MacFarlane served used his name and a lot of his money to support the return of the program he’d loved as a kid in the seventies. His connections got the show on Fox – and that was only after he created the Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive at the Library of Congress, preserving the famous scientist’s work. This week MacFarlane agreed to match the next $1 million in pledges to the Kickstarter campaign to bring the popular kids’ show Reading Rainbow, launched by Levar Burton on May 28th. Last night, Burton tweeted about the major donation:

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by MacFarlane’s activism; his comedy is – on second glance – deeply political and he’s never avoided public debate. He was a huge proponent of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, working for increased wages for the country’s TV, film, and radio writers. He was named the Harvard Humanist of the Year in 2011 because of his passionate support of the LGBT community. 

Here’s the thing: His charitable side makes MacFarlane funnier. He’s not Bob Hope just yet, but the fact that he does care – about the children no less – makes it clear that he’s a big talent, not just a big mouth. His jokes may “go there,” but he doesn’t live there. We’re lucky he’s a family guy.

Photos by Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP