The Demise of “The Family Guy”

A few minutes after John Elway won the MVP award for leading his Denver Broncos to victory in Super Bowl XXXIII, Fox officially premiered Family Guy to 22 million viewers. I had just turned 17 years old and I laughed as hard during that first episode as I have in my entire life.

The next day at school I was praising the show to everybody. I even ranted to people I didn’t know. The following is an illustration of many conversations that day:

Me: “Holy hell dude did you see that show after the Super Bowl last night?”

Random Person: “Umm, the Super Bowl was last night?”

Me: “Yes, didn’t you watch the show afterwards…Family Guy?”

Random Person: “No, and even if I did why would I talk to you about it? Who are you anyway and why are you wearing that bee costume from that stupid Blind Melon music video?” (Actually, let’s just focus on the show and forget the fact that I didn’t talk to many people in high school that were “real”.)

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The first season of Family Guy was gasping-for-air funny. I could not stop laughing. Every gag was a winner. Every cutaway was a random, sidesplitting adventure. Sure, it lacked the humanity of The Simpsons and it didn’t try for social satire like South Park, but that was okay. Because it was funny. Because it was so fucking funny.

Family Guy came along right when The Simpsons had reached its nadir of unfunny. Worse, there was nothing else
remotely entertaining on television for my demograph. Adolescent, degenerate males (such as myself) needed something to do besides brood and not talk to girls. We felt stuck in a void between the shows aimed at kids, and the lame adult comedies that were meant for our stupid parents. We craved entertainment. We needed to laugh. We wanted ridiculous, ironic, moronic, stupid, fresh and irreverent. But we didn’t want the second coming of The Simpsons. We wanted The Simpsons on pure crack-cocaine. And that’s exactly what Family Guy was.

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Just as all good things are predetermined to eventually be toppled by the unwashed and unthinking hordes, Family Guy was canceled after three seasons. In hindsight, it was a perfect death. The show had become a martyr for all the wonderful things it championed, e.g. farts, hookers, degrading of women in general, antisemitism, racial paranoia, etc. We mourned the loss of the show but we knew that every episode would live on in our hearts and also in the box-set DVDs containing every episode. How ironic that the DVDs led to the shows undoing…(suspense)…

Oh, you want to know how the DVDs we treasured proximately killed the myth and spirit of the show? Well, it goes like this: Fox cancels Family Guy. But the show’s loyal fan base is out for blood and every available DVD box set is bought up in record numbers. Fox realizes that more money can be made by green-lighting new episodes. Network executives quickly review their algorithm ($=yay) and decide that Family Guy should be taken out of double-secret probation. Frat guys everywhere rejoice.

When I first heard the news that Fox had ordered new episodes, I sprouted a boner that lasted for three consecutive days.

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I don’t remember very much about the show’s first episode back from cancellation. The only thing I can recall is that it was a half an hour completely devoid of me laughing. I’d never seen the quality of a show fall so far so fast as didFamily Guy. The jokes were flat and the gags were way overdone to the point where I would find that watching the show was as stressful as going to class. The new Family Guy was a complete death-spiral that could only have been hastened if Fox had hired Jim Belushi as head writer.

After the episode ended I spent a few solid minutes searching for the perfect artery to slice open. Unsuccessful, I began to mentally process what I had seen and try to diagnose what had gone wrong. Then it hit me…

…The show had fallen in love with itself. The first rule of making a person laugh is that your joke must be relatable to them. Nothing in the new episodes was relatable to any viewer. All of the jokes were recycled and the characters were appearing over and over in the same scenario as they had in the episode before. It was like the writers were writing ridiculous gags only to entertain themselves. Then, when they stopped trying to entertain even themselves they just got lazy and stopped trying all together. Allow me to explain what I mean by comparing The Simpsons.

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The Simpsonsis a show about a dysfunctional family living in Springfield, KY. That right there is all you need to know. It’s simple and it’s relatable to most people. After all, I’m sure most people consider their own family to be at least mildly dysfunctional.

So we have this family living in a northern Kentucky town. The father (Homer) drinks too much beer, eats too much, never helps around the house, and is pretty much a slob. But is he a bad father? Ok, maybe
sometimes. His son runs wild around the neighborhood causing trouble and his intelligent older daughter is not being given the tools she needs to take advantage of her gifts. Also, he is hardly the model husband.
However…

Homer does love his kids. He is constantly standing up for Bart when the town tries to string him up for this or that. He also tries to cultivate Lisa’s talents by buying her her omnipresent saxophone. Sure he complains when
she plays too loud but as a father he is very often tender to her and listens to her needs. Yes, he often strangles Bart but his outbursts of anger are short-lived and are easily quelled with beer. As far as a husband, he has never cheated on Marge and there are several episodes that explore their relationship and conclude with the two of them locked in a sweet, understanding embrace.

…compared with…

Family Guyand the daily dysfunctions in Quahog, RI.

In the first few seasons, the dysfunction of the Griffin family is relatable and almost charming. Yes, Peter Griffin commits welfare fraud in the first episode but he does it to better his family. Ok, ok so he builds a MOAT, which is ridiculous in its own right, however Peter is very, very stupid. He eventually gives the money back (sorta) and
reconciles with his wife, Lois.

This episode is funny because it is relatable. Most any father wants to give his family everything. So what’s a little welfare fraud? As long as we can keep the black knight at bay! (I’ll never forget hearing that line for the first time and literally spitting popcorn out of my nose).

To avoid rambling on even longer, just accept for now the fact that the episode storylines for Family Guy seasons 1-3 were relatable and believeable. They were stories of the everyman that were heartfelt, silly and had cutaways that were completely out of left field and hilarious.

…contrast with…

The garbage that makes up the rest of the Family Guy catalog (shit it has really taken way to long for me to get to my point).

Consider this: Nothing written or aired post-2005 makes any sense at all.

Remember what The Simpsons was about? Of course how could you forget that “it’s a show about a dysfunctional family living in…” Yeah, so what’s Family Guy about?

I can tell you this much – it sure isn’t about a family.

I know this because Peter absolutely HATES Meg. Actually, everyone hates Meg. The random abuse Meg suffers at the hands of every family member does not remind the viewing audience of their own lives, and is therefore not relatable.

Bart and Lisa fight but in the end they hug and make up (relatable). Peter and Lois make Meg sleep outside (not relatable). I don’t understand why they do this isn’t she their daughter?

It’s also abundantly clear that Stewie is now gay. For the life of me I do not understand why the writers chose to go in this direction. In seasons 1-3, the way that Stewie was written as a diabolical mastermind was both hilarious and fucking genius. Best of all he was deep down a boy who acknowledged the love of his parents. Yes, he wanted his mother dead but that was only until it was feeding time or time to play with his favorite toy (which may or may not have been a genocide-inducing weather machine).

I don’t care what anyone says…there is NOTHING relatable about a gay baby. Nothing. Even if a baby boy is wearing all pink with a pasted-on Freddie Mercury moustache – that doesn’t make me think he is gay. My reaction will be either 1) “awww cute” or 2) “ok his mother must have been high when she dressed him”… but it’s NOT and NEVER WILL BE “holy shit look how that baby is dressed he probably likes to suck a lot of dicks”.

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Let’s see – the first episode of season #4 is about Peter stealing the sequel to Passion of the Christ from Mel Gibson. Wait, what? How is that about the Griffin family or Quahog at all? Oh I see, Mel Gibson is an easy target and his movies are controversial so you figured you could get some chuckles by taking aim at the black sheep of Hollywood. Fine, I guess, but don’t let it happen again.

But all it does is happen again. And again.

Want more proof? – There’s an entire episode about how Peter goes blind eating nickels. Then they find out Peter is retarded. How is any of this relatable to ANYONE!? Why do they say Peter is retarded when he is obviously a fully functioning human that supports his family? As if that didn’t make too little sense, it’s about this time that they begin to tie episodes together by having Peter fight a guy in a giant chicken costume for five consecutive minutes at a time. Considering each episode is roughly 22 minutes minus commercials, that’s nearly one quarter of an episode taken up by something I’m going to leave in the toilet right after this article is finished. Oh my God I’m getting angry just
thinking about it (the chicken not the dump I’m preparing to take).

As the seasons wear on the relationship and expectations that the viewer has developed with the characters on Family Guy are completely wiped away. This process is hastened by the snarky dialogue and unfriendly mood of the later episodes. These episodes depict each member of the Griffins as seriously disliking, and acting
really nasty to each of the other members.

So what in the hell is Family Guy about anyway?



Jacob Simon

Jake is a contributor for UnSceneComedy.com