Last time I talked about Family Guy, I said I’d explore the idea of Quahog being a dark hellhole. Acting on that promise, once again I’m going to go analytical again.
Now, I’m not trying to take a TV show seriously, but the newer episodes are such crap that it doesn’t even matter.
The world of Family Guy is largely based in the fictional town of Quahog (which is another word for a hard clam), in Rhode Island. Seth McFarlane appears to use Quahog as a microcosm for “conservative America”, which is made evident by the townspeople’s seemingly blind faith in Christianity.
Seriously, in the episode “Boys Do Cry” (season 5, episode 15), Stewie vomits from drinking a whole cup of wine in church, and the whole congregation believes he’s possessed by Satan. Shortly after, the whole town comes to the their house, with even the mayor taking their side in demanding that Stewie be exorcised. Something tells me that Seth should have made a character based on Bob Larson, that crazy pastor who goes around hitting people with Bibles thinking that they’re possessed by demons.
Are they sure this is in Rhode Island, because it sounds more like Quahog is smack bang in the middle of the Bible Belt. In “Not All Dogs Go to Heaven” (season 7, episode 11), the Griffins seem to condemn Brian for openly being an atheist (a really bad one), and after Meg converts to Christianity after being subjected to the Religion Channel for five straight days. In the same episode, it becomes clear that the townspeople hate atheists, even though the rest of America doesn’t give a damn. They’re also shown next to the town’s church burning books that are “harmful to God”. Of course, we know this is because Seth McFarlane believes that atheists are being persecuted just because fundamentalists are getting more politically active.
That might be subjective, but I certainly wouldn’t want to live amongst a society that equates atheists like myself as “worse than Hitler”.
The next thing I want to focus on is school life. James Woods High is apparently a miserable place. I highly doubt that the teachers have any authority, seeing as the jocks and popular girls like Connie D’Amico seem to be more important. In fact, in the sub-plot of “Stew-Roids” (season 7, episode 13), the principal states that Connie becomes popular again after humiliating Chris, and that it is “by the rules of high school”. Since when did a fictitious hierarchy of popularity become the rules of high school? Not to mention, Meg’s hopes of being accepted after that have been thoroughly dashed.
Thankfully, we don’t really see a lot of the high school jocks. But we do see a lot of Meg. The reasons given to justify her unpopularity include social awkwardness, has no talent, likes terrible movies/music, and physical “unattractiveness”. For me, this plays into a another dark aspect of their society: their sexist view of women. Their attitude towards women is stuck in the 80’s, in that the people of Quahog seem to give attractive women whatever they want, while ignoring or beating up any girl who is perceived as ugly. As I’ve mentioned before, Meg actually looks only slightly less than normal, but not attractive enough for the producers to sexualize her like a pop star.
It’s also very clear that Meg lives in a dumb, abusive family, headed by an obese, neglectful father who should have been divorced a long time ago, and a mother who doesn’t care. Why Meg doesn’t run away is beyond me, but if she did, I believe it would be justice. Speak of that, there are three major injustices that Quahog’s society seems to get away with.
1) The abuse that goes on in the Griffin household seems to go unnoticed, or if it does, people look the other way. Peter seems to be able to do whatever he wants without consequences. May I ask, why? If the police knew about this sort of thing, Peter and Lois would be in jail, and Meg would be put into a foster home (or allowed to live on her own, since she is 18).
2) As Stewie said, “there’s a pedophile up the street that nobody seems to be doing anything about”. This of course refers to Herbert. In seasons 3-4, many of the jokes that are about him revolve around his lust for Chris, including his catchphrase, “get your fat ass back here”. But in Quahog, this perverted old man roams the streets looking to do things you can’t even describe on cable TV, and because he isn’t actually shown doing anything wrong, you never know what he’s doing, or if he gets away with it.
3) The town’s mayor, actor Adam West, is completely incompetent, knows nothing about how government works, and seems to be immature or insane. In “It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One” (season 5, episode 17), he allowed the local oil company to dump toxic waste into the lake in exchange for free oil for his hair. My God, not even Mayor Quimby was that dumb.
Since this post is stretching out for long enough, I may as well go to my final, overarching point. The townspeople of Quahog at large seem to be dumber than most Americans. It seems as though everyone wants to pick on the average Joe, while Seth McFarlane picks on the average American. Going back to the episode where Lois runs for office, the show makes the false assumption that undecided voters are the “biggest idiots in the world”, who can be swayed be anything. She wins the town’s mayoral election purely by spouting the idiotic nonsense that the townspeople bizarrely want to hear.
In “Prick Up Your Ears” (season 5, episode 6), every concerned parent protested about Lois teaching the use of condoms in sexual education class (which is something every good sex ed teacher should do). After firing her, Principal Shepherd instead hires a reverend from the “First Evangelical Church”, who brainwashes children into believing sex is evil and dangerous, all because the people of Quahog are apparently dumb enough to let that happen.
On one final note about stupidity, in “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz” (season 4, episode 18), Brain and Francis successfully attempt to destroy Peter’s “United Church of the Fonz” by sending three celebrities to convert them to various religions (including Christianity). Brain comforts Peter by saying that the people of Quahog “are always looking for the next voice to exploit their ignorance”.
Regardless, what makes Quahog so much worse in this regard than Springfield is the nature of those flaws, combined with the fact that no matter what happens, Quahog will remain the same by the will of the writers enforcing the status quo just for the sake of continued syndication.