Why Does California Give Millions in Tax Credits to Shows Like ‘The Orville’?

If you don’t mind, please let us give you the elevator pitch for a TV show. It’s an hour-long sci-fi adventure comedy starring someone whose biggest claim to fame is an animated series. Oh shoot, we just realized this show already exists. It’s called The Orville, and it’s probably one of the most polarizing TV shows of the 2010s. The content is what makes The Orville polarizing, but the fact California is providing millions of dollars of tax breaks for the show is controversial, too. Who stars in The Orville, and why does The Golden State give away so much money via tax credits to the show? Let’s find out.

Who stars in The Orville?

Penny Johnson Jerald, Seth MacFarlane and Peter Macon in The Orville

Penny Johnson Jerald (from left), Seth MacFarlane, and Peter Macon star in The Orville. | Fox

Seth MacFarlane is the star and creative force behind The Orville, which is something of a Star Trek spoof. His biggest claims to fame before his current show are animated series Family Guy, blasting Fox News every chance he gets, and being an underwhelming awards show host when he did the 2013 Academy Awards.

In addition to being in front of the camera, MacFarlane is the executive producer on The Orville. He writes for the show, too, and he directed the first episode of the second season in 2018.

Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, and Mark Jackson co-star alongside MacFarlane.

Why does California give millions of dollars to movies and TV shows?

Welcome to California, where the state foots the bill for TV and movie productions. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images

You know that old saying, ‘You have to spend money to make money?’ That’s the basic idea behind California’s tax incentives for the entertainment industry.

If TV shows and movies remain in The Golden State, it means the people working on those productions spend money and pay taxes there. Handing out $330 million in tax credits through 2025 seems like a lot, but with people buying gas, going out to lunch, and paying income tax in California, it pays off in the long run.

The tax breaks helped lure 150 new productions to California. Those movies and TV shows employed 30,000 actors and 18,000 crew members.

How much money did The Orville receive from California?

Seeing The Orville get picked up for a second season was one of the most surprising TV show renewals in 2018, but the tax incentives helped the cause.

MacFarlane and Fox received $14.5 million in tax breaks to keep production in California. The state approved $15.8 million worth of incentives if the show continues for a third season. Being approved for tax credits doesn’t guarantee a third season, but it definitely helps the cause, according to Deadline.

What do the critics think of the show?

The cast of the TV show The Orville in 2017.

Fans love Seth MacFarlane (third from left) and his co-stars from The Orville. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Is The Orville a hit or a show waiting to get axed? It depends on who you ask.

The professional critics who reviewed Season 1 didn’t understand it and by and large called it a poor Star Trek knockoff, according to Rotten Tomatoes. However, there’s a reason The Orville was renewed for Season 2, and that’s because viewers love it. As TV Guide notes, fans rate the show an 8.2 out of 10 at Metacritic.

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