Disney’s Big City Greens EP duo Chris and Shane Houghton talk season 4


Fall is the perfect time to get back into your favorite animated series! Disney’s Big City Greens is coming back for its fourth season on Sept. 23. The show will air its season premiere and the following episodes on Disney Channel at 8/7c and will be available to stream on Disney+.

We sat down with the series’ creators Chris and Shane Houghton to learn more about what’s new in season 4 of the series. We spoke about some of the guest voices in the upcoming season and exciting guest stars in season 4. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read on to find out!

Culturess: Please introduce yourselves!

Shane Houghton: Hey, everybody. I’m Shane Houghton, one of the creators and executive producers of Big City Greens, along with my brother.

Chris Houghton: Hello, I’m Chris Houghton. I’m the other executive producer and creator of Big City Greens. I also do the voice of Cricket Green. Hello. Good morning. Good morning.

Culturess: I wanted to get a feel of your background in animation. What projects have you done before creating Big City Greens?

CH: Yeah, well, directly before Big City Greens, Shane and I, aside from the pilots, we tried to get off the ground, and we had multiple projects we were pitching. We worked together on a show called Harvey Beaks at Nickelodeon, and actually, a number of the Harvey Beaks crew members have worked on Big City Greens or still work on Big City Greens today. Before that, Shane was working in other areas of the industry. I was in animation. I worked on Gravity Falls. I worked on Wander Over Yonder. I did one of the Mickey [Mouse] shorts. So both Shane and I were bouncing all around. We were also heavily involved in comic book work and had our Image Comic book series called Reed Gunther so we basically had a ton of creative energy, and we needed somewhere to aim it. Luckily, we were able to aim it at Big City Greens. For the past seven years, all of our creative energy has been funneled into this beast that is an animated series.

Culturess: Awesome. I also want to just give you a congrats for another season of the show that’s so awesome to hear and to know that we’re going to get another season of these amazing characters. I wanted to ask you, since we left off in season three, what changes are we going to see for season four?

SH: Yeah, so in season three, we obviously had a very big change. The Greens moved from the City to the country, and we kind of flipped the premise of the entire series on its head. By the end of season three, we see them moving back to Big City. So in season four, we’re going to kind of continue that dynamic where Bill is moving back in with grandma in the City, but Nancy, the kid’s mom, is going to stay in the house in the country. The kids are then able to then kind of have the best of both worlds. They’re going to be in the City, they’re going to be in the country, and kind of go back and forth between. So, the first episode, ‘Truck Stopped’, is all about establishing that new normal, and they’re traveling between the City and the country, and we even have this new fun location: the gas station where they stop in between those two places. As we’re kind of establishing, they kind of now moving back and forth within season four. So we have this great cast of characters in the country that we established in season three.

SH: Season three, it just went by so quickly, and we had so many fun ideas for these new country characters. We’re going to see more of them and their relationships with the Greens. We have some new characters in the city that we’ll be introducing. Gloria finally hires some additional help at the cafe outside of Cricket and Grandma. So there’s a new character that will be re-occurring over there, and we’re going to introduce a long lost family member of the Greens in season four. So there are new characters, new locations, while still we’re kind of establishing or keeping the foundation of what everybody knows and loves with the country and the city and the Greens on their wacky adventures.

Culturess: That’s awesome. Also, I know this show is based off of your experiences and your upbringing. Were there any specific storylines in this season that were directly influenced by something that happened to you growing up?

CH: Well, yeah, we pulled from our childhood so much. I think in season four, what we’ve pulled more from is just our day to day lives. We get together with the writers every Monday morning throughout the week, but every Monday morning starts out with, what did you do over the weekend? And more times than not, something has happened that starts a conversation that ultimately leads to some character story that we can apply to the show. Most recently, there was an episode that was based off of my experience of I love going for walks. I walk my dog all the time. I walk myself all the time. I’m a Midwest boy, so I’m out here in California, but when I see someone on the sidewalk, I give a little “How do you do?” wave; Hi, how are you? Something like a nice greeting to my fellow human and oftentimes I get nothing back. Not a wave, not a nod, not an acknowledgment of any sort. On one particular day, this was upsetting me so much, to the point that I started getting aggressive with how I would greet people. Of course, not the way to do it, not getting any response. [Laughs]

CH (CONT’D): That became a little ‘B’ story in an episode for Bill that just felt like a “Bill story”. He would want to try to get waves.

SH: Chris came into the writer’s room fuming about this, and whenever that happens with anybody in the writers room, we’re like, “There’s a story there that’s so funny.” Carson Montgomery, one of our very longtime writers; He just wrote his 50th eleven-minute segment, so he’s been writing almost a season’s worth just himself. He had this really funny idea that we related to back home in the country. There’s this thing where sometimes you’ll shake somebody’s hand and they want to show how powerful they are and they really squeeze your hand, and it kind of hurts. We’re like, “Why is that?” It feels more prevalent in the country maybe, than [in] the city.  What is that show of dominance? Carson came up with this really funny idea where we basically do that in Smallton. So Cricket meets this kind of cowboy who has a very firm handshake, and he likes to kind of display his power by tormenting people by shaking their hand too hard. So Cricket wants to beef up his grip and fight this guy back. It leans very heavily into a Western feeling, and it’s all about these dueling handshakes and who can squeeze the other person’s hand harder.

SH: It’s a very funny episode. It is one of my favorites of season four. It just stems from this very normal, everyday observation or problem where you’re like, sometimes I shake people’s hands and they shake my hand too hard. We just kind of go deep and kind of explore what that is and find a fun take on it. That’s mostly how we find the nuggets at the center of our stories. They’re all drawn from our kind of personal life and kind of what we’ve been experiencing.

Culturess: I think that’s what makes it such an appealing show, because I can tell it’s so observational, and it’s things that people kind of encounter every day, but don’t really think about until they see it in media. They’re like, “Oh, wait, I do that.” or “I’ve experienced that.” So I think that’s really cool that you take from everyday conversations and experiences. I also know that [in] this fourth season, you’re going to have your 100th episode, which is an awesome milestone, especially now in the landscape of television. I want to know from you what you like to see in future seasons of the series? 

SH: Oh, my goodness. Well, could we just pause for a minute on 100 episodes? I’m still kind of shaking my head, kind of reeling from the fact that we made it this far. That’s a lot of stories because that’s two eleven-minute episodes within 100 and a half hours. So we’ve been running the show for about seven and a half years. We’ve told a lot of stories and you’re right, in the current TV landscape, not a lot of people or shows make it to this kind of milestone so we’re very honored to be here and to be celebrating with the Greens in this 100th episode. I think the 100th episode is going to be super fun. We really poured everything we could possibly do into this episode to make it seem like we wanted to be a celebration of the entire series thus far, which is a really tall order for one half hour episode to sum up four seasons worth of what the greens have been through, because they’ve been through some crazy stuff. We’re very excited about this 100th episode. As for the future, we’re just trying to get through season four right now.

CH: For future episodes, we never want to take advantage of the fact that we can just write more episodes, and we’ve been here long enough. “We’ll always be here, we’ll always be making the show.” We always want to be earning the audience’s time, and we really are honored by the fact that people consistently tune into this show. So we never want to take that for granted. So I think for future episodes, the focus will remain the same of “How do we keep this show fun and fresh and feel like a great celebration of these characters that people can gather?” We love hearing that people can watch this with their full families. “Oh, I watch a show with my grandma.” “This is the one show I can watch that my parents will stay in the room and watch it with me”. That kind of stuff is so cool, and I think it stems from the passion and hard work that the entire crew puts into this show. So for as long as we’re working on the show, that’s where our focus will be.

Culturess: I wanted to ask you about working with a bunch of comedy legends and contemporaries. I saw you have Tim Meadows, Amy Sedaris, Paul Scheer, Miss Pat, Tim Robinson, who’s a favorite of mine. I just want to know to work with them.

CH: Yeah, it’s awesome. You know, we’re so just honored to know someone that we love and look up to and have watched their work for years, wants to come into our little playground and play in Big City Greens. Tim Robinson just absolutely hilarious, and we all love him on the show. As soon as I think you should leave came out. We had this character, Gregly, forever. He lived in the show bible and was never in the show. As soon as that show came out, Tim’s show, we thought, “Oh, my gosh, he’d be perfect to play Gregly.” Instantly, Gregly became a really fun character in the show who gets his own episode. In season four, we have an episode called ‘Guiding Gregly’, where Tim does a lot in it, including singing, which is so great. That episode just turned out really fun. If you’re a fan of Tim Robinson, I think you’ll enjoy that episode.

SH: Lots of great big names this season. Also, one thing we forgot to or that was not included in the press release, Dan Povenmire, the creator of Phineas and Ferb. We love Dan. Dan has been a mentor to us. When we had a period, we were in the same building on the same floor. So he was on Milo Murphy at the time, and we were like show neighbors. So we got really close with Dan, and he has been just so helpful in just kind of, like, teaching us about show-running and just how you balance life and a TV show. He’s accomplished Him and Swampy [Marsh] have done so much, so it was great to talk to him. He reached out to us and he was like, “Hey, can I write you guys a song for the show? I hear you guys are doing more songs.” We were like, “We are doing more songs and yes, we will take a Dan Povenmire song 100%.” Actually, in that episode ‘Guiding Gregly’, Dan Povenmire is in it. He voices a small role, and then there is a song that Dan Povenmire wrote with us

CH: That Tim Robinson sang!

SH: That Tim Robinson sings. So it’s a confluence of all our favorite things just kind of coming together.

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Be sure to watch the season 4 premiere of Disney Channel’s Big City Greens hits on Sept. 23 at 8/7c. Keep up to date with Culturess for more TV and movie interviews!