Sunday, April 23, 2006

What Happened to "Family Guy?"

I've been asking myself this question for a while now.

I loved "Family Guy" on its first run. Thought it was almost as good as "The Simpsons." I got reacquainted with it when everyone else did. I watched the DVDs with friends, caught most of the syndicated shows. I think I've seen every episode, most of them twice.

This was one of the few shows I could count on to make me laugh consistently. Then the fans stepped in.

I've been holding my opinion in for a while. At first I thought it was me. I used to dismiss anything that became too popular, snobbily casting aside anything the public accepted as good, funny, or cool. I've since stepped back from that judgment, realizing nothing should be dismissed without a trial run (that doesn't hold for reality shows and some popular "music"). So that wasn't it.

Next, I thought maybe I had changed in some way. Maybe my sense of humor had run off the path. I no longer like most of the shows I was addicted to growing up. But any moron can see how horrible "Full House" is.

Still, this option ran around in my mind a bit, supported by my waning interest in "The Simpsons" and my ultimate dismissal of "American Dad" (misogynist piece of crap!). Even after I finally gave up on "The Simpsons," I wasn't convinced. I still think the same people in my life are funny. Nope, my sense of humor is intact.

I won't go into the horrors of the new "Simpsons" episodes, because I am no longer up to date on them. "American Dad" doesn't warrant the words I've given it. But I feel there's still hope for "Family Guy." Maybe it's just wishful thinking.

In this new era of technology, where TV shows are on DVD before the season is over, I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. "Family Guy" is an extreme example. It was left to brew for too long. It sat on the stove, the ingredients mixing together, and something in there went bad. I think we put some milk in there by mistake.

"Family Guy" has become a parody of itself. It has taken the things we fans loved about it and exploited those things: taking a joke past its ultimate conclusion (see the Quahog Creek "episode" in tonight's show), repetition (Peter's repeated inhalations after hurting himself), celebrity jokes/pop culture references (INCREDIBLY over-used on tonight's episode), overstatement, and non-sequitors. They have taken them past funny. We are partly responsible. Much like Yellowstone, we are loving this show to death. We loved when the family dismissed and made fun of Meg. Now she's a walking punching bag. Some of that is funny, but she's a non-character now. We expect it now. We don't give a damn about her. I think the show's creators need to fall back in love with their characters.

I will admit, tonight's episode made me laugh. This is why I think there's hope. Seth McFarland is funny. He and the network need to stop worrying about what the audience wants and start thinking about the show itself.

9 comments:

Adam Elend said...

You need to watch the South Park episode from a couple of weeks ago about showing the face of Mohammad.

The political overtones (attacking Comedy Central, the Bush Admin, the media, etc) were really just a cover for a shocking investigative report on the writers of Family Guy.

Maybe you've already seen it, but I figured you would have mentioned it in your post if you had.

Anonymous said...

OK. First of all, you're solid points:

1. You're absolutely right about Meg. What was funny is now simply expected.

2. Seth and his people need to get to know their characters again.

3. The "Quahog Creek" episode probably went too far - but, Peter's father-in-law said just as much. The writers purposely took it too far to get the father-in-law to react and stop working with Peter. And Brian's last line was funny.

4. This one you didn't mention, but I know you wanted to. Their plug of "Ice Age 2" the other week was reprehensible.

Now, to the good stuff. Family Guy stands above The Simpsons and others because of its willingness to go too far. Extreme comedy doesn't always work. But when it does it is extremely funny. While their shot at Julia Roberts this week wasn't funny, their shots at many other celebrities have been. While the "Quahog Creek" episode may have gone too far, the puke-fest from a couple of months ago was laugh-out-loud funny (well, to me, at least).

Seth MacFarland has a great sense of what's funny to him and his staff and usually that's funny to us, as well. Sometimes they bomb. Big deal. It's still funnier than The Simpsons and pretty much every other show on TV (especially since the mournful loss of Arrested Development).

Cut 'em some slack. Or tune your funny meter.

Oh, and American Dad is obvious satire. The misogyny is there for a reason.

Jason T.

Amanda said...

Adam - I haven't seen it. I'll have to look for it.

Jason - interesting points, but I have to disagree about "American Dad." I know where you're going with the satire angle, but I think "Family Guy" does a much better job. They go for humorous sexism that makes fun of our society, while "American Dad" shows examples of pure misogyny, pure hatred and tries to pass it off as funny. I know we disagree on this point, but I couldn't let it go without defending my opinion.

hfh!? said...

yep family guy is pretty freakin ridiculous...
but ill always love it...

wich guy is meg anyway?

Guitartists said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!! I've been asking myself this very same thing for some time now! I LOVED Family Guy!!!!! I thought it was the most brilliantly funny show to come along in a long time. Then it changed. The jokes got just downright raunchy and bad. The intellect had left the building for the most part. Sometimes I catch short bits of new episodes, and sometimes they are mildly amusing, but for the most part I just can't bring myself to watch it anymore. I can't help but feel there is something going on..... maybe he's trying to get cancelled?????? It just doesn't make sense. Did they bring in new writers and just aren't telling us??? sigh It sucks. I miss that humor!

Rodolphe said...

I work with a group of men who are avid fans of this show. They represent well its key audience: they are all Caucasian former fraternity members, who consider themselves to be cutting-edge connaisseurs of entertainment. They are also rabidly racist misogynes. . . not that they think so. They imagine themselves to be edgy intellectuals who oppose 'political-correctness' because it hinders "free speech." They don't bother, of course, to put themselves in the place of those who have historically been denied freedom of any kind, let alone the freedom to dehumanize others through "humor" at others' expense.
Fans of this show may tell themselves that they're laughing at satire but the ugly truth is that they're upholding the very old status quos of racism and misogyny in a 'new' time.

Anonymous said...

although its a pretty close call between family guy and other shows like simpsons besides south park but i always prefer to watch family guy as i have so many free download family guy episodes to watch them most of the time.

Watch Family Guy Tv Show said...

Nothing is happend, now Family guy is one of the most popular show .

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