Royal Crackers’ Creator & Executive Producer Talk New Adult Swim Series
ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Royal Crackers creator and star Jason Ruiz and executive producer Seth Cohen about Adult Swim’s newest animated series, which premieres April 2 at 11 p.m. ET/PT. The duo discussed the Succession-like premise and the benefits of being on Adult Swim.
“Royal Crackers was once the king of snacks, but the empire is crumbling,” reads the series’ synopsis. “When the family patriarch, tyrannical company founder Theodore Hornsby Sr. ends up in a ‘super coma,’ the rest of the Hornsbys will take their lack of talent and business acumen and try to make Royal Crackers the success it once was.”
Spencer Legacy: Jason, where did the idea of Royal Crackers originally come from?
Jason Ruiz: The idea originally came from … at the time that we were starting to develop an idea for a new animated show, I was really heavy into Succession — I think it was in its second season at the time. I’m very proud to say that I was always a fan of that show from the start. Even before it became massive, I was in from the Pilot.
I was a big fan of that show, and I guess I just remember watching it one night and I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be funny if you did a show where the stakes were this high for our characters in vying for this top seat of the company, but the company was just a dogshit saltine cracker company that nobody cared about?” That was kind of the impetus of the idea, just letting the audience be like, “Why do they care so much?” And then just watching them fight tooth and nail for this top seat when there’s nothing to glamorize about it at all.
Seth, what was it about this series that really had you excited from the get-go?
Seth Cohen: I love comedy that’s stupid and smart, and stupid and emotional. This show satisfies that. I think there are moments where the characters really love each other. Then there are moments where Senior’s falling down the stairs or Theo’s murdering somebody and putting them in the trunk and they’re navigating that. There’s this emotional arc to even that story where he makes this giant mistake but his family comes together to help him out. I think that sort of sweet-and-sour is something I love about comedy. Those are my favorite comedies: the high stakes for something very low stakes, because it just feels like that’s all of us.
Jason, the familial drama and comedy is really the center of the series. What challenges come with using a family as the main characters instead of one or two characters?
Jason Ruiz: Oh, I mean, it provides a lot of ease. It’s a huge leg up to have a whole family to work with but I think everything that is like when we, when we talk, when we break a, an episode in a writer’s room, for instance, like there’s a lot, it usually starts with an anecdote from my childhood and something that I’ve experienced or something one of our writers have experienced and we usually take it from there and it’s all rooted in familiar familial situations. A story can be as basic as any sitcom storyline you’ve seen before, but we try our hardest to make sure that it feels that our show does it in a way that hasn’t been done, at least as far as we know, before.
So yeah, Seth decided the episode where Theo accidentally kills somebody, that’s an episode about a guy feeling like he’s one-and-done and struggling to tread water to stay relevant. I don’t think those two plotlines have ever intersected before. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s been told through that vice until Royal Crackers.
Seth, what made Adult Swim such a good fit for Royal Crackers and vice versa?
Seth Cohen: There are more places now doing adult animation than in the past, but Adult Swim has such a specific brand. That is a real strength of theirs and this project fits with what they’re doing currently, which I love. I think the stuff they’re doing now — Rick and Morty, Smiling Friends — it feels like what the next version of that place is and we’re excited to be part of that next version.
There are other places in town in the volume business. The ones that are more selective … I feel like their brands are still being kind of discovered. So even though Adult Swim sits in this much larger ecosystem of the Warner Bros. world, they still have such a unique voice and I think that if you can be part of that, you should be. It’s much easier to navigate than a place that’s like, “Yeah, we do everything. Anything will work here.”
Jason Ruiz: It’s also nice to go to a network that isn’t going, “What is our Rick and Morty?”
Oh yeah, that would be really challenging.
Jason Ruiz: That’s a nice change to, “Yeah, we have Rick and Morty. We don’t have to find another one.”
Seth Cohen: Right.
Jason, Royal Crackers has such a great cast and you even got Gilbert Gottfried on one episode, which is even more special now. What’s it like to have such amazing talent for your concept?
Jason Ruiz: Oh, it’s everything. It makes the show so much easier to write. I remember, in the beginning, it took a minute to cast Jessica [St. Clair] as Deb just because we hadn’t found her yet. Once we heard her voice, we cast her immediately. But I remember writing for Deb was really hard in the first half of the first season because we didn’t know what this character sounded like. We didn’t know how she was going to be performed. We really had very little to work on.
When you get someone like Jessica voicing that character, it just becomes so specific and you just really feel this character through her voice. It’s a huge leg up. I remember we cast her and then the episode that is pretty much Deb’s episode came to us very, very easily, as opposed to before when we didn’t have her cast. She’s amazing. The whole cast is incredible and they make the heavy lifting of the writing so much easier. I can’t say it enough. They’re incredible.