‘Family Guy’ and ‘The Simpsons’ Have Found New Voices for Cleveland Brown and Carl Carlson

Remember when huge crowds of people took to the streets to protest the killing of yet another unarmed Black man by police and to demand justice and an end to this abuse by the people who supposedly exist to protect us, and Hollywood responded by saying “we hear you, we’re recasting some Black cartoon characters,” and racism was solved forever?

Well, racism still exists but now we know who will be playing Cleveland Brown on Family Guy and Carl Carlson on The Simpsons, and we even heard Carl’s new voice, Alex Désert, on Sunday’s episode, though Family Guy will still be using Mike Henry’s performances for the rest of the season since they were already recorded.

So Désert did a good job as Carl, I thought, especially for someone who was on Becker. But Carl is an important part of the cast and couldn’t be easily written off in favor of someone voiced Hank Azaria or Harry Shearer. I don’t expect to see Apu or Dr Hibbert have a speaking role ever again. It’s not like The Simpsons hasn’t demoted and promoted characters before; Barney Gumbel used to have a much larger role on the show and major charters like Lionel Hutz and Edna Krabapple were retired when their voice actors passed away. There’s just a convenience factor in having very talented voice actors like Azaria and Shearer along with Dan Castellaneta,  Pamela Hayden and Tress MacNeille who can voice ten characters or so every episode. Basically, if Kevin Michael Richardson (also a very talented actor) can’t do a black supporting character’s voice, don’t expect to see them much anymore.

As for Cleveland on Family Guy, we won’t hear his new voice actor, Arif Zahir, for a while, but he pretty much nailed the voice and was cast based on the impression he’d been doing for years.

I like it, I’m glad the character won’t really change with the change of actors.

Still, I don’t think they’ve accomplished much here. While it is important to create more opportunities for Black voice actors, no one was asking for these roles to be recast and this also probably means that Black actors won’t be cast as white characters anymore, even though Kevin Michael Richardson was nominated for two Emmys as the Joker, literally the whitest cartoon character ever, so this doesn’t even create more opportunities for Black actors, it just segregates them.

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