Shane and Chris Houghton are living out their wildest dreams.
The brothers are the masterminds behind the Disney Channel animated series, “Big City Greens.” The series will premiere its third season at 7 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, on the Disney Channel. New episodes are released on Saturday.
The series is influenced by the Houghton’s childhood in the small rural town of St. Johns, Michigan, with locations and characters inspired by their real-life family members and townsfolk and their experiences upon departing rural farmland for college in big cities.
“Big City Greens” premiered in 2018, and in 2021, the Houghtons entered into an overall deal at Disney Television Animation.
“To be involved with Disney, we know that the sky is the limit,” says Shane Houghton. “The journey has been long and we’re seeing how the show impacts audiences.”
The new season brings a big change for the optimistic mischief-maker Cricket Green, who moved from the country to the big city with his wildly out of place family: hard-working father Bill, sweet-and-sour Gramma Alice and quirky older sister Tilly, who later in season three will participate in a rite of passage event, one that’s uniquely Green style.
The first and second seasons are available on Disney+.
The brothers have been on a long journey in getting “Big City Greens” to a series.
“Shane and I were driving home and we were out in the studio space in Glendale, (California) in 2016,” Chris Houghton says. “We had just gotten into storyboard pitches. We could feel something magical happening. I remember thinking early on that this project could have significance.”
Shane Houghton says the project has always had potential and it has grown slowly and continues to find new audiences.
“I just found out my neighbors just discovered ‘Big City Greens,’ ” he says. “They won’t stop quoting the show. And the show has been great at helping kids get through the pandemic.”
Chris Houghton always wanted the series to be a place where audiences can come together and learn.
“We always wanted the series to be accessible,” Chris Houghton says.
Shane Houghton says “Big City Greens” has an all ages appeal.
“We were really into sitcoms as kids,” he explains. “We were a ‘Family Matters’ house and our entire family would watch Carl Winslow and Steve Urkel. My dad would laugh at something and I would too even if I didn’t understand it. We enjoyed it together and that’s the spirit we’re bringing to ‘Big City Greens.’ With Disney Channel we’re able to get all ages involved in watching the series.”
As the show helps audiences navigate the pandemic, the Houghton brothers say they’ve had to adjust to creating new content in a new way.
“The framework of the workplace has changed so much and we’re all working from home,” Chris Houghton says. “We’re all going through so much turmoil. We have to make sure to communicate in order to hit our deadlines. It’s a juggling act. I feel like we’re on the other side of things now.”
Shane Houghton did miss the loss of creative collaboration that is found in the office setting.
“When you’re working from home, you have to schedule a Zoom meeting or pick up the phone to bounce ideas off of another,” he says. “It’s something that I’m really missing.”
The brothers hit another milestone recently as they will join the echelon of format-leaping creative talent as their popular series spins off a movie musical for Disney Channel and Disney+.
“Big City Greens” also received a fourth season order from Disney Channel, tallying more than 100 episodes for the Daytime Emmy-winning and Annie Award-nominated comedy. The announcement was made by Ayo Davis, president of Disney Branded Television, a content engine for Disney+ and Disney Channels.
“Chris, Shane and their crew made this decision an easy one because they consistently turn their wellspring of bold ideas into entertainment that connects with kids and families and appeals to fans of animation everywhere,” Davis says. “They’re an important part of our TV animation studio which, guided by Meredith Roberts and her outstanding team, is key to our group’s creative footprint and success. Whether I’m at work or at home with my family, I join the millions of viewers around the world who are looking forward to all that ‘Big City Greens’ has in store for us.”