Movies - TV
Every Joke
In Futurama Followed One Important Writers
Room Rule
If you’ve ever had a math or science joke go over your head while watching “Futurama,” you’re not alone, as showrunner David X. Cohen had his writers follow a 1% rule. In a 2007 interview, he stated, “As long as it doesn't derail the enjoyment of the 99 percent, 'Futurama' will make a joke tailored to the nerdiest 1% of its audience.”
Cohen’s reasoning was that any audience member who did get a 1% joke would be “a fan for life,” and he took great pride in the fact that the show could appeal to physics graduate students. The geeky jokes were also reflective of Cohen’s own master’s degree from Berkeley in theoretical computer science, as well as the various math and science degrees of his staff.
While Cohen was apt to approve obscure math references in the show, he also wanted to change TV’s false perception of mathematicians. He explained that their depiction “never rings true [...] There's an implication that a normal person can't do math because they don't have this magic power, which is very discouraging. You don't have to have Math-Ray Vision."