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Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux Talk ‘The Great North’ 2-Part Season 3 Finale

The sisters discuss their serious but humorous take on hungry hybrid ‘pizzlies’ and diabolical robots brought on by global warming, as well as stepping away from the show in support of the first WGA strike since 2007; Part 1 airs Sunday, May 14, with Part 2 following Sunday, May 21 on Fox.

A “hell of a smell” tolls for Lone Moose in The Great North’s two-part Season 3 finale, with Part 1 airing on Fox, Sunday May 14, and Part 2 coming Sunday May 21. Described by the show’s characters as a gravy-ish scent that is “a little like butt and a lot like ass,” the episode “For Whom the Smell Tolls Part 1” kicks off with Beef and his son Moon deciding to investigate a weird smell that’s been wafting through their Alaskan town while Judy and her brother Ham attempt to create their perfect prom night. 

As Beef and Moon eventually discover the smell’s source, connected to the earth’s rising temperature and ground thaw, the offending odor is also attracting wild animals - like hybrid and hungry bears - into the town and poses a danger to the students and their prom night. But ravenous bears aren’t the only disasters that ensue. 

The final Season 3 episodes of sisters Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux’s Critics' Choice Awards-nominated series address the universal impact of Global Warming, as well as climate crises specific to Alaska, a state at the frontline of environmental concerns. 

Of course, like with their famous show Bob’s Burgers, the Molyneux duo tackles every topic with both urgency and unbridled humor. And they maintain a similar approach to the recent Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike in protest of unfair compensation for streaming show orders, a lack of healthcare coverage, and the use of AI technology (like ChatGPT) to replace writing jobs. It is the largest interruption of American television and film production since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, as well as the largest labor stoppage for the WGA since the 2007–08 strike.

We got the chance to chat with creators Wendy and Lizzie about the high-stakes season finale and how they are standing in solidarity with their fellow writers, stepping away from The Great North until an agreement is reached between the WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Victoria Davis: I gotta ask this right off the bat. This is such a great finale, but how close is this to what's actually going on in Alaska, as far as climate change and global warming are concerned?

Wendy Molyneux: Alaska is really, really affected by climate change. It can be a canary in the coal mine kind of situation up there because it is near the Arctic. Alaska has already felt some really significant impacts. Whole coastal villages have had to essentially relocate because of melting due to climate change. And it’s going to get more real for everybody else. So, you know, we tried to sound the alarm in our fart jokes show kind of way.

I don’t want to give too much away about the episodes but, in the area where our show is set, there would not tend to be a lot of permafrost and deep ground thaw. But, in order for our story to work, there would have to be ground thaw. So, we played fast and loose with it because we wanted this to work allegorically for anywhere. But thawing permafrost and ground thaw is a big issue in other parts of Alaska. 

There are things out there lurking, waiting for us and, if we don't do something about them, they will, in some fashion, explode. We wanted to hint at the very real devastating problems caused by global warming, but also make it a little funny. 

VD: Did you guys talk with people currently living in Alaska about the things happening up there that might lend themselves to good material for the show?

Lizzie Molyneux: We did a fair amount of research and talked to some climate scientists up there as we were working on the episodes and developing the idea. We also tasked our writers with the job of finding out what is actually going on up there. At one point we had an enormous list of things that were happening in Alaska and how climate change was affecting things. Then it was just a matter of picking which one led to the best story. 

There are a lot of aspects to the show that are really happening in the environment. Did we amp up the situation to make it a little more dramatic? Absolutely. But a lot of it is pulled from the reality of what's going on.

WM: Some parts are all us. But pizzlies are real, the combination of a polar bear and a grizzly. That's been brought about by climate change. Animals that aren't supposed to overlap are overlapping as they seek food and so we are getting some hybrid animals. Those are completely real. And the idea of this town being plagued by a horrible stink came from a real event in Carson, California, where decomposing vegetation in a canal caused the entire town to be overwhelmed by a smell.

The other piece of it, with the source behind this smell and the corresponding earthquakes, a lot of that came from us really wanting something big and fun that just could almost work as an action movie plot. A lot of times, Honeybee and Wolf reference these fictional movies with The Rock that they love where he saves a city. So, Lizzie and I were thinking, ‘This is almost Honeybee and Wolf’s dream, to be caught somehow in the middle of a crisis that would be from an action movie.’ And when we started breaking this episode, a lot of it was focused on what is a big, gross problem we could come up with so that it feels big enough to support a two-part season finale.

VD: As a big fan of B monster movies, I have to give props to the idea of these bears descending on a prom night. It is genius, especially since the show is set in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness and we’ve seen these characters interact with so much of the wildlife up there. I think you guys really nailed the action and suspense of a ridiculous but feasible Alaskan climate crisis. 

LM: There are a lot of nods in these two episodes to a lot of different climate disaster movies, like Volcano and The Day After Tomorrow. We have a love for those big movies, and it was a way to make this fun and big and feel like it had those stakes, but also get that weird twist of something, like in those monster movies, that’s far-fetched. But there are a lot of shady companies, like in our show, that have done wild things. 

WM: The first time we did a two-part season finale on Bob’s Burgers, it was about commercialization and big businesses moving into the Wharf. That's what created life-and-death stakes in that one. And then, with this one, we were just thinking about big stakes happening in Alaska and climate change immediately came to the fore. 

It's also something I think young people are a lot more in tune with than older people. Older people are like, ‘Well, I already signed my check. I already paid. I'm leaving.’ And young people are like ‘We just fucking got here. What the fuck did you all do? This Olive Garden is on fire! I can't eat here!’ There's always a little bit of us that wants to speak to younger culture, not to lecture them, but instead to say, ‘We see you and this fucking sucks.” And that’s something animation can do well. 

That's why all this is set around the prom, to speak to younger people and be like, ‘We fucked up.’ Especially me and Lizzie, personally. We do a lot of offshore drilling in our spare time, and this is our apology.

VD: I mean, what else are you going to fill your weekends with?

WM: Exactly. Running a show doesn't take up enough time, so I’ve dabbled in destroying the ecosystem. 

VD: Speaking of crises that are happening right now, the Writers Guild strike is another effort aimed at righting wrongs for a new generation of creators entering this industry. I know that this finale is completed, it’s airing. But was The Great North production affected at all by this? Or will it be?

WM: We've delivered a lot of scripts for next year. I think 17 scripts, and 17 shows for next year are already in process. So luckily, a lot of our crew can stay employed and continue to draw the show. Lizzie and I have completely stepped away as showrunners in solidarity with the showrunners of other shows, all linking arms here and saying ‘Hey, we're not doing our writing and showrunning services until this is resolved.’ 

Lizzie and I have been really lucky. We came up through the network system on a network show that gets these big 22-episode orders. Streaming came along and threw a grenade into everything and changed everything. To a large extent, Lizzie and I are not marching for ourselves, we're marching for the people who are coming up trying to get into this industry at a time when labor is being treated in a completely different way, where there are these very short orders, tiny rooms, and no show running training. 

We were really trained to show run on Bob's Burgers because we started as staff writers. We had longevity, we had guaranteed spans, we had income, we had the space to develop both as writers and producers. And that's our wish for everyone else. We're at an unprecedented time in our industry, where we're seeing women, people of color, a much more diverse group entering as writers, and then potentially getting shut out by an inability to make money in this industry and have a stable life if you weren't already rich, or from a rich family. And it's going to take us backward if we don’t do something.

LM: A lot of streaming shows don't do 22-episode orders. They do maybe six or 10. A lot of times, this gets boiled down to writers asking for more money, and the company said, ‘No, no more money.’ Money is obviously a huge piece of this, because we're talking about people's livelihoods and ability to create a career and earn their health insurance and support their families, all of that. 

But when a show only gets a writer's room for eight weeks, or even 10 weeks, and they also don't carry writers through, then they don't have writers on set or during post, all those pieces that you would be guaranteed through the original network model are not built into the system. So, not only are you not earning money for a long period of time, in a way that can sort of sustain you for a year, but you're also not getting that time to be on set to see how this process happens so you can eventually use the knowledge to run your own show. 

The strike isn’t so much about people being angry as it is about trying to find a way to continue with the network system that works and apply it to the streaming world.

VD: On top of the streaming, I think AI was also a system disruptor. Many people didn’t see it coming. They just woke up one morning and saw that an entire manga or animation had been created using AI. 

LM: That’s a scary thing and something we need to be paying attention to. A lot of creative jobs could be affected, not just writers. The beauty of being in a guild is what affects one writer affects us all. So, there’s a lot at stake. I still don't fully understand it, but it feels like it's a conversation that needs to begin now, not in five years once it’s gone off the rails. 

WM: We're fighting for other unions by fighting this fight. Imagine that if AI can write, if AI can draw, AI can direct. Probably not now. I mean, I asked ChatGPT to write a story about two friends who had unique butt cracks and were visiting an amusement park, and I kind of liked the story it did, but it was basic and more of a prompt. But, 10 years from now, if AI can come up with the idea of the unique butt cracks, then we're all fucked. 

I started the strike not totally understanding the damage AI could do. But now, after going to some of these meetings, I'm like Will Smith at the beginning of iRobot. No robots, please! I used to find them fun and exciting, but now I’m very worried. 

VD: I hear you. This could snowball fast. Train cars filled with evil robots and city-wide curfews. Or maybe not that extreme. 

LM: Well, streaming really hasn’t been around for that long, but it’s already changed a lot. AI technology feels like it's going to ramp up very quickly, and things could change incredibly fast. There's a point where it's probably good to catch it before it gets bigger than we can know. And I think that that point is right now. 

There are a lot of things at stake and, hopefully, we'll get through it sooner rather than later. I think everybody out there picketing wants to be back working and writing and creating.

VD: I hope so. I love everything that you guys make, so I’m rooting for this to resolve sooner rather than later, and in your favor.

WM: That's our goal. What the writers are asking for is fair, and hopefully some sort of resolution will be reached, eventually, or else I'm just going to become a lady who professionally walks around on the street. I guess that could be fun too. A few more weeks of this, and there are going to be thousands of guild members with incredible legs. We’re a threat to the leg modeling industry in the same way that AI is a threat to us. 

VD: Honestly, this is probably the most fresh air and outdoor exercise time any group of writers has ever gotten. I don’t remember the last time I saw the sun. 

WM: At least we know it’s good for something. We're adding hundreds of years to our lives. And, hey, if anyone’s going to be driving by, feel free to give a whistle. No one’s going to be mad. 

Victoria Davis's picture

Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She's reported on numerous stories from activist news to entertainment. Find more about her work at