By Miles Baxter
It’s about time for this show to die.
Watching the show the other day was a harsh reminder of the fall from greatness Family Guy has gone through.
The sad thing is that I was a fan of the show when since its creation in 1999, but I wouldn’t be doing my feelings towards the show justice by saying that it’s gone downhill.
To be honest, it’s a disaster now.
Taking a look at earlier Family Guy episodes we see a dysfunctional family getting through life and the various situations that they were landed in, often at the fault of Peter. The plots were funny, and were just supplemented by the genuinely funny cutaways that the show made extremely frequent use of.
Yes the cutaways typically have nothing to do with the plot. I can understand this being a huge criticism of Family Guy in the first place, but the fact is that it worked, and they were funny enough to get away with it.
After this there were a series of cancelations and revivals, and these several revivals were the first steps in the decline of Family Guy. They were back, but not better than ever.
The show focused less on a storyline and more on the randomness of cutaways. Peter became made a transition from lovably irresponsible scamp, into that of a babbling moron with the sole purpose of keeping the stupidity of the show intact. The family was no longer a unit we care about, and was instead just platform for fatuity, and everything about the show got lazier. It wasn’t really anything you had to analyze to see.
What I noticed about the resurrected show is that the writers had a tendency of writing themselves into a corner. Take the “cool whip” back and forth of Brian and Stewie (I assume most Family Guy fans know what I’m talking about.) They go back and forth about the pronunciation of cool whip to the point where it just becomes the two repeating back at each other in different ways “Cool whip!” “Cool whip!” “Cool whip!” “Cool Whip!” The writers clearly saw this as a funny interaction but it becomes clear that at this point, that the writers have no place to go. They’ve left themselves no way to effectively break free from this repetition, so they rely on one them eventually saying something outrageous enough to maybe get a laugh and make us forget about what a cop out we’ve just been put through.
Brain finally responds “You’re eating hair!” Nice escape. Very subtle.
What’s strange is that this show seems to want to have a voice. Frequently Brian (Yes, we understand that he’s the rational one) is making comments about actual world problems, drawing attention to everything from the situation in Iraq to making fun of the nature of Republicans. I really can’t stand the episodes where one family member starts to buy into something really ridiculous just so Brian can be the condescending character he was written as. Whether it’s Lois buying into gypsy psychics, or Meg becoming a full blown Jesus nut, Brian just exists to express his disapproval in the form of mockery. So with this mind every character choice is taken to the extreme. Meg starts out as a simple religious girl in one episode, and 20 minutes later she’s a part of book burning. The other side is built up and held down for Brian to stab it to death with mockery. It’s not really funny when you can sense that show is stroking its own ego. Yeah, usually their anger is directed in the right places, but one (of many things) that South Park has over Family guy is the ability to point out these things in a well-crafted plot that relates to the topic.
It’s annoying to watch a show that seems to want to be purpose driven, but that simply rattles off world opinions between fart jokes. Your world views aren’t accepted as intelligent after they are told minutes after a fight with a chicken.
It’s even more frustrating to know how funny the show is capable of being. Every cutaway that gets a laugh makes me more sad than happy. I know the show can be funny, but the “funny” is so lost in a lazy plot and unfunny inappropriate jokes that you almost feel ashamed to get any real entertainment out of it.
I can’t help but think sometimes when watching the show “Who could have possibly written this and thought it would get anything but offense?” The show mercilessly goes after African Americans, handicapped people, Jewish people, and really any minority that can be made fun of. I’ve got nothing against a little fun in these areas. South Park has touched down on these issues, and while it wasn’t anywhere near tasteful, it was at least funny enough to get away with it. Family guy is lazy in an area that it can’t afford to be lazy in. A point in one episode pokes fun at Joe’s inability to dance with his daughter on her wedding day. Who exactly is that joke for? Did anyone laugh? Or are there just active attempts to be outrageously offensive? This show really isn’t just poorly made; it can actually be monstrous.
I really cannot get onboard with a show relying on random, wild situations outside the storyline for laughs rather than putting in the work to get the genuine comedy we get from better animated series, like King of the Hill.
It’s a shame what the show has become, but ultimately, it’s time the Griffin family called it quits.