I don’t know when you last watched Family Guy, but maybe keep it that way.
When I was 14 or 15, I loved Family Guy. It was this blend of irreverence, dirty humour and pop cultural references that gelled perfectly with a burgeoning teenage brain. It was something fresh, a kind of amalgam of The Simpsons and South Park, an animated comedy where reality played second fiddle to a good joke. The archetypes were way out there, and I watched a lot. It got cancelled, eventually, then brought back. It’s had 17 seasons now, which is probably 14 seasons too many.
At work last night I had to describe some episodes from season 12. It was fun to work on, with a huge variety of description, but egads, what a shitshow. I mean, also a shit show. It’s abysmal. I swear it wasn’t always this bad, but who knows? The plotlines are contrived and unnecessary. There’s very rarely ever any message or meaning to them. Just an excuse for crude comedy. That makes me sound like I’m trying to shit on the hoi polloi, but I’m not. I like crude comedy. Have you seen how often I talk about poop here? I think farts are funny, but part of that is how you use them. Crude comedy for the sake of being crude or edgy lacks real bite. Do something clever with it. I dunno. There was an episode I worked on yesterday where Peter gets a whip (the entire plotline got discarded after ten minutes). During this time he slashes Meg, whips Stewie (the infant) across the face, enough to leave a bloody gash. He goes to a Devo concert and whips fellow concertgoers. That’s about it. I’m not coming at this with any hesitation over an animated show causing violence to an animated, talking infant, but there was no point to the gag. He whips his kid for retreading a dumb “cool whip” joke from early in the show’s run. The kid sits there with a bloody face for two seconds. End scene. The crowd roars with applause?
Here were some plotlines I saw last night:
- Peter, Jo and Quagmire get ousted from their usual booth at the Drunken Clam by some tough looking dudes. They feel emasculated, and everyone in their lives starts taking advantage of them. Lois tells Peter to Man Up, so they go back to the bar and get the shit beaten out of them by the dudes in a 3-4 minute fight scene. It turns out the dudes were soldiers, and the bar holds them up as heroes. End episode.
- Stewie and Brian become blood brothers to cement their friendship. Stewie gets herpes from Brian. Turns out Chris got herpes from Brian too. They enact revenge. They sabotage his date. Chris steals his car. Stewie and Brian make up.
- Chris starts dating Pam, the daughter of Jerome (bartender at the Drunken Clam). Pam is black. The family has no issue, but Jerome doesn’t want his daughter dating a white man. There’s a dumb song (and it’s seen as dumb in the show. Great lampshading there /s) about all the amazing things that white people have given black people. Eventually, Jerome is okay with it. End episode.
I can only imagine what season 17 is like. Who knows? Maybe the show had a major mea culpa and changed course. Maybe it has something to say. Somehow I doubt it. Then again, since Family Guy‘s popularity waned, there have been a ton of great adult animated shows to take its place. Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman, Archer, Bob’s Burgers. It’s not like the show even needs to be relevant any more, so maybe who cares?
Now that I think about it, “maybe who cares?” is a great motto.