A critique of Family Guy (from someone who’s actually watched the show)

Flame war in three, two, one.

Flame war in three, two, one.

Family Guy is insanely popular. I’m sure every teenager out there has seen it once or twice. I’m willing to bet that every boy and girl in college has seen it. Why? It’s popular, and it airs regularly on BBC Three, the UK’s capital of mindless populism on TV. I do watch it, and sure enough, I do find it really funny. However, I hate newest seasons, and actually prefer seasons 2-5, especially before the series got revived in 2005. Why? This whole post is about my several gaping criticisms.

Before we start, I want to point out that this is not a hate post. I’m here to speak out against the many flaws that are consistently ignored by the not only the writers, but also the producers, and the general public. Here we go.

First, let’s talk about it’s obsession with milking the catchphrases. Every famous TV character needs a catchphrase of some variety. Homer Simpson has “D’oh!”, so what does Family Guy have? Peter (aka Plagiarismo) has an incomprehensible muttering noise that gets annoying in later episodes. They give other characters catchphrases and expect the repeating of these catchphrases to be funny, when it’s not.

The second problem is how stuck in the 80’s it is. That might make me sound like a hypocrite, because I’m sort of stuck in the 80’s, but only in my own way. In this regard, I’m trying to be an 80’s guy in today’s world, and I do it as a form of rebellion against the norms of our time. But Family Guy tries to just imitate the 80’s in a stereotypical manner. I know they did an 80’s episode a while back, but in there they were parodying 80’s tropes, so it’s excusable. In every episode, they make the background music like an 80’s TV show, steal from 80’s shows and movies, and plenty else. This is why South Park is better in this regard, because it’s in today’s world, and it’s always been in the current world, even in the 90’s when it first aired.

The third problem is it’s recent obsession with blood and gore. Earlier episodes were making a legitimate effort to be somewhat clever. Nowadays, they try and fit in as much needless and excessive gore as possible. In The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair (season 9, episode 12), an evil clone of Stewie (Evil Stewie) slices a person in half with a machete before stealing the car. I thought Family Guy was about comedy. But apparently, in their barbaric quest for ratings, they’ve been focusing on making it “edgy”, and thus it tries to offend everyone that isn’t them. And apparently excessive violence does that, because parents are offended by violence, that’s a fact.

The fourth problem I have is how much it rips off the Simpsons, right down to the main cast.

It's the Griffins! + 1 cat!

It’s the Griffins! + 1 cat!

Look back at the picture of the Griffins at the top of the post, and then go back to the picture of the Simpsons. Notice anything? Other than Snowball II, everything from the Simpsons was copied onto Family Guy. Peter is just a fatter and far stupider version of Homer, Lois is just a sex-crazed version of Marge, Chris is just a fatter, lamer version of Bart designed to look like Peter, and Meg is just an older version of Lisa, with only half of her intelligence, and, unlike Lisa, no social standing at all. Stewie and Brian, I’ll admit, are original, but that’s about it. They’re not the only ones though. Quagmire and Cleveland are just rip-offs of Lenny and Carl, Horace is a less-involved version of Moe, Carter is just a less evil and more obnoxious version of Mr. Burns, and Dr. Hartman is just a Caucasian version of Dr. Hibbert. If that’s not enough, Family Guy has often ripped off plots from the Simpsons (e.g. Saving Private Brian is a rip-off of G.I. (Annoyed Grunt), which was released earlier). In Family Guy’s defence, the Simpsons has often ripped off from Family Guy, and sometimes the Family Guy version can be better than the Simpsons version.

The fifth, and biggest problem is the writing and characterization. Like the Simpsons, any real character development get denied by the “back to the status quo at the end of each episode” formula that all the big three animated sitcoms suffer from. There are so many issues with the writing and character development.

For example, the writers deliberately take the worst examples of society, and then apply those traits to the personality of the Griffins, all while passing them off as normal. The writers also an obvious liberal bias, which is obvious due to Seth McFarlane being an outspoken liberal, and an atheist (which he applies to his avatar, Brian the dog). They made tons of jokes about conservative president George W. Bush, but they’ve never made one joke at Obama’s expense. Obama had one appearance in Family Guy, and it was all unceasing praise, and they made him look like an overblown rock star.

Good God, they made him out to be a gold Michael Jackson, before his skin change operation!

Good God, they made him out to be a gold Michael Jackson, before his skin change operation!

 

Have they no shame? They’re just caving in to the naive teenagers who hoped in 2008 that Obama was the answer, even those outside America where it didn’t even matter.

But there is one writing issue larger than life that want to focus on, and that’s Meg.

The most unfairly treated character in all fiction.

The most unfairly treated character in all fiction.

I’m not a fan of this character. In fact, she ranks up as one of the worst characters in the show. But she’s horrible by unfair means. The entirety of the shows writing is biased against her, to the point that they’ve somehow made it so that every character, no matter how minor, hates her just for existing. The writers try and pass her off as ugly, when their own drawings her show that she’s just plain. Apparently the writers hate plain girls, because to them “plain” doesn’t equal “hot and horny babe”. Not every woman can be Megan Fox. In fact, I don’t know one woman who wants to be Megan Fox!

Back to the real issue. In earlier episodes, she was indifferent to any other teen girl, and that was good because it’s relatable to those people. But now, whenever Meg has any sort of happiness within the plot, the writers don’t let her keep it. They want her to stay as the pincushion of genuine abuse at the hands of her family. In the terrible Seahorse Seashell Party (season 10, episode 2), Meg finally speaks out against her mistreatment at the hands of her family, which in the real world could have landed her parents in prison. However, the writers don’t want that, so they have the author avatar (Brian) tell her that she’s supposed to sponge it up to keep the family from falling apart. Call me crazy, but if it meant one character was treated fairly, I’d gladly watch the Griffins fall apart, especially because it’s a carbon copy of the Simpsons. Come to think of it, by that logic, the Griffins are a family that is intrinsically violent towards each other and would attack one another at any moment. This would make them easily the worst family I’ve ever seen and unrelatable for the sake of a tired comedic gag.

I think I have a theory as to why Meg is so mistreated by the writers. It’s simple: she looks so plain and normal that they can’t sexualize her in any way. That’s what I think is the reason, because they can’t use her to sell sex to girls in their teens or younger. That makes SethMcFarlane the cruelest, sleaziest, and most mean-spirited writer in the world of animation. That’s not even the worst part of them treating Meg horribly. The worst part is that Mila Kunis, the voice actor for Meg, actually enjoys it. Considering that she is watching her character suffer and playing that part, that makes her a sadomasochist if she hasn’t noticed, since she enjoys her character suffering (the masochistic part) and thinks it’s funny (the sadist part).

Damn your evil heart Mila!!

Damn your evil heart Mila!!

Is Meg’s mistreatment supposed to be funny? If so, then I’m not laughing when it happens. It just makes me sick to my stomach that their sense of humour consists of that!

My final issue is the Giant Chicken gag, and the Conway Twitty “jokes”. The giant chicken fight scenes just got old and tired really fast, and the Conway Twitty jokes not only aren’t funny, but they just make it impossible for people to take the guy seriously. Not to mention that Twitty has been dead since 1993, so the writers are just dancing on his grave.

Wow! That was long. I guess I had a lot of issues with Family Guy after all. In conclusion, Family Guy is funny depending on the episode. But because it’s grievous writing problems have grown in size, along with its blood lust, I think Family Guy’s had it’s time. If you want my opinion, it stopped being funny late into season 8. So I really think that it should just rest in peace. Especially since, well, Seth McFarlane already copied the formula into two other shows, so we don’t need Family Guy anymore. But that’s just my opinion.

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6 thoughts on “A critique of Family Guy (from someone who’s actually watched the show)

  1. They did an episode where Meg mentioned that every summer she goes to Europe with a group of kids to vandalize Anne Frank’s house. After that and the psychotic way she treated Brian after he rightly turned her down, I felt she deserved all the abuse she received. She really is a disgusting human being.

    • Frankly, I think that’s the reaction the producers want Meg as a character to provoke. She was never an awful character in the original 1999 series. After they resurrected Family Guy in 2005, they made it into a vulgar, distorted parody of itself where if anyone had any savoury aspect of their character, it was exaggerated to the nth degree, and anyone who’s perfect is immediately dismissed as a “douche”. I personally feel that Meg only became as psychotic as the writers wanted her to be (the same could be said of all characters though) so that they could legitimize hatred towards the character.

  2. I’m going to point out two flaws I saw with your criticism. One: The episode in which Obama appeared was actually a criticism of him. They reason they portrayed him as some kind of rock star is because that’s how society (Primarily young teenagers) have been viewing him. It’s called satire son, learn about it. Second, They completely and utterly realize how unfair their treatment of Meg is, and that’s the point. She is a trope known as a “buttmonkey” which is someone who is consistently treated cruelly and unfairly in the series. The point is that it’s over-the-top and unrealistic. Now, do I think that the buttmonkey trope is overused? Yeah, quite a bit. Nonetheless I have seen some hilarious uses of it, but Family Guy just happens to use it an unfunny way.

    • There are flaws with your arguments.

      1) There is no evidence to show that the “rock star” depiction of Obama is satirical. If it were satirical, it would be smart, and it would be funny. Family Guy, however, is dumb. The episode itself is so obviously a pro-Obama episode because the writers are ultra-liberals.
      2) They know it, and they enjoy it. They seem to have this perverse pleasure in abusing this character, and it’s actually depressing instead of funny. The buttmonkey trope is a trope that has overstayed its welcome, and I think they should stop mistreating Meg, and give her a good characterization.

      It may sound illogical to you, but what I’ve said in this post is not only fact, but it’s a sentiment shared by many people, more than you would think. The post itself is based more or less on my own frustration with Family Guy’s more recently mean-spirited writing.

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