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The Cleveland Show
Adult Swim Premiere September 29, 2012
Finished September 9, 2018
Original Network Fox Broadcasting Company
Seasons 4
Episodes 79

The Cleveland Show is an American animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Henry and Richard Appel for the Fox Broadcasting Company, as a spin-off from Family Guy. The series centers on the Browns and Tubbs, two dysfunctional families consisting of parents Cleveland Brown and Donna Tubbs; and their children Cleveland Brown, Jr., Roberta Tubbs and Rallo Tubbs, like Family Guy, exhibits much of its humor in the form of cutaway gags that often lampoon American culture.

The series was conceived by MacFarlane in 2007 after developing two animated series, Family Guy and American Dad! for the Fox network. MacFarlane took Family Guy character Cleveland Brown and redesigned his son Cleveland, Jr. by making him older, softly spoken and obese, respectively.

Since its debut on September 27, 2009, the show has broadcast 64 episodes and the third season started airing on September 25, 2011.

The Cleveland Show has been nominated for one Annie Award, one Primetime Emmy Award and two Teen Choice Awards, with all been nominated. It has mainly received mixed reviews from media critics. The Cleveland Show holds a TV-14 rating.


MacFarlane initially conceived The Cleveland Show in 2007 while working on two animated series, Family Guy and American Dad!.[1][2]



The Cleveland Show first appeared on the development slate at Fox in early 2008, under no official name for the pilot, after a report that Fox had purchased the series from creators.[3] On May 5, 2008, MacFarlane and 20th Century Fox Television inked a deal.[4] The pilot was named The Cleveland Show in May 2008, when it appeared on the primetime slate for the 2008–09 television season, although it wasn't officially on the network schedule.[5] Shortly after a report that the Fox network had cancelled King of the Hill, The Cleveland Show was picked up for a full season, after an additional nine episodes of the show was ordered.[6] In May 2009, The Cleveland Show appeared on the primetime slate for the 2009–10 television season, for airing on Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m.[7] On June 15, 2009, it was announced that The Cleveland Show would premiere on September 27, 2009.[8]

MacFarlane and Henry pitched a 22-minute pilot to Fox which aired on September 27, 2009, but had been leaked on the internet in June 2009. Even before the pilot episode premiered, the show had already been renewed for a 22-episode second season. After the first season of the show aired, it was given the green light to start production. On June 10, 2010, less than three weeks into the first season's summer hiatus, it was announced that Fox was ordering a third season.[9] A fourth season was announced on May 9, 2011.

Executive Producers[]

Seth MacFarlane, Mike Henry and Richard Appel serve as executive producers on the series since the first season.[10]

Voice Cast[]

Mike Henry voices two of the show's main characters: Cleveland Brown and Rallo Tubbs. The voice of Cleveland was developed originally for Family Guy by Henry after being influenced by one of his best friends who had a very distinct regional accent.[11] For the voice of Rallo, Henry has stated that he had originally created the voice over twenty years ago, when he had made a series of prank calls.

Sanaa Lathan voices Donna Tubbs, the wife of Cleveland. In developing the character, Lathan said that the producers "wanted her to be educated, but to have some edge."[12] Prior to voicing Donna, Lathan had only one other voice credit in a relatively low budget film entitled The Golden Blaze. In addition to the show, she also primarily worked as an actress in such films as Alien vs. Predator, Love & Basketball and The Family That Preys.

Reagan Gomez-Preston plays Roberta Tubbs, the stepdaughter of Cleveland. Gomez has stated that she uses her own voice to portray Roberta, and that she herself gets mistaken to be a fifteen year old over the phone "all the time."[12] Before Gomez was cast as Roberta, Nia Long had provided the character's voice during the first production season, before leaving to fulfill prior acting commitments.[13]

Kevin Michael Richardson, a recurring guest voice on Family Guy, portrays Cleveland, Jr., as well as Cleveland's next-door neighbor Lester Krinklesac. In portraying Cleveland, Jr., Richardson drew inspiration from a character named Patrick that he had played on the NBC drama series ER who was mentally impaired and wore a football helmet. For Lester, Richardson stated in an interview that, being African American, he had run into a few rednecks in [his] time, and decided to simply perform a stereotypical redneck impression for the voice of Lester.[12]

Jason Sudeikis plays Holt Richter, one of Cleveland's drinking buddies with a short stature, and Terry Kimple, one of Cleveland's longtime friends who now works with him at Waterman Cable. Sudeikis originally began as a recurring cast member, but starting with the episode "Harder, Better, Faster, Browner", he was promoted to a series regular.

Seth MacFarlane plays Tim the Bear, which MacFarlane admits is a "Steve Martin impression [...] a Wild and Crazy Guy impression".

Other voices include that of Arianna Huffington as Tim's wife Arianna the Bear, Nat Faxon as Tim and Arianna's son Raymond the Bear, Jamie Kennedy as Roberta's boyfriend Gabriel Friedman, a.k.a. "Federline Jones", Will Forte as Principal Wally, Frances Callier as Evelyn "Cookie" Brown, Craig Robinson as LeVar "Freight Train" Brown and David Lynch as Gus the bartender.

Cleveland's newly introduced family includes his new wife in her early forties, Donna Tubbs Brown (voiced by Sanaa Lathan);[14] Donna's teenage daughter Roberta (originally voiced by Nia Long, but now voiced by Reagan Gomez-Preston); and Donna's five-year-old son. Rallo (also voiced by Mike Henry).[13][15] Cleveland, Jr. underwent a complete redesign for the show, becoming sensitive, soft-spoken and obese.




In July 2010, the Turner Broadcasting System picked up syndication rights, for their networks TBS and Adult Swim, set to premiere in fall 2013.[16] This lasted until 2018 when Comedy Central (and later BET) acquired rights to the show.


Critical Reception[]

The Cleveland Show has received mixed reviews. Review aggregator Metacritic gave the show a score of 57 out of 100.[17] Tom Shales of The Washington Post spoke very negatively about both the show and MacFarlane himself, describing him as "no better than the dirty old man hanging around playgrounds with naughty pictures or risqué jokes as lures".[18] Roberto Bianco of USA Today wrote a similarly negative review, suggesting that the easiest fix for its problem was "cancellation".[19] John McWhorter of The New Republic called it "a patronizing mess" and "basically Family Guy in blackface". He added: "What isn't black in it is so shamelessly ripped off from Family Guy that it's hard to believe it's the product of creators who are usually so studiously 'post-' obvious stunts of the sort."[20] However, Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was more positive about the program, writing that although The Cleveland Show was "just as rude-crude" as Family Guy, it also had "more warmth" due to Cleveland being a more likeable character than Peter Griffin. Owen also praised the character of Tim the Bear, stating that "Tim is by far the most amusing creation".[21]

The conservative Parents Television Council has given The Cleveland Show a "red light" designation in the organization's Family Guide to Prime Time Television, for sexual and violent content, and for foul language.[22] "True to form, this Family Guy spin-off is every bit as soul-sucking, nihilistic, infantile, and crass as its predecessor—the only difference being, this serving of filth airs a half-hour earlier, so even more kiddies can tune in!" the PTC stated in deeming the pilot episode its "Worst TV Show of the Week".[23] Five other Season 1 episodes—including several repeat broadcasts—were named "Worst TV Show of the Week".[24][25][26][27][28]

Awards and Nominations[]

Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Outcome
2011 Annie Awards Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production Mike Henry as Cleveland Brown Template:Nominated
2011 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Animated Program The Cleveland Show Template:Nominated
2011 NAMIC Vision Awards Animation The Cleveland Show Template:Nominated
2011 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV: Animated Show The Cleveland Show Template:Nominated
2010 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV: Animated Show The Cleveland Show Template:Nominated


  1. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspx?id=20090615fox01
  2. http://www.foxflash.com/div.php/main/page?aID=1z2z2z252z1z2
  3. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2008/03/04/development-update-february-29-march-4-26852/7570/
  4. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2008/05/05/development-update-monday-may-5-27475/7632/
  5. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2008/05/15/fox-announces-primetime-slate-for-2008-2009-season-27577/20080515fox02/
  6. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2008/11/10/oh-hey-yall-fox-orders-full-season-of-the-cleveland-show--29463/20081110fox01/
  7. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2009/05/18/fox-announces-primetime-slate-for-2009-2010-season-31384/20090518fox03/
  8. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2009/06/15/fox-announces-fall-premiere-dates-for-the-2009-2010-season-31700/20090615fox01/
  9. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2010/06/10/fox-picks-up-third-season-of-the-cleveland-show/20100610fox01/
  10. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2009/05/04/development-update-monday-may-4-31252/8078/
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