How a Family Guy lost its way
Family Guy is the only show that seems to have lost its plot as spectacularly. Family Guy’s animated giant, Seth MacFarlane, has always provoked outrage from both sides of the cultural divide. But there was a time when its legions of loyal fans were willing to stand up and defend their champion with unquestioning devotion.
It seems that the mood has changed. Few would be willing to help the Griffin family in 2022, rather than being divisive and relevant cartoon that mocked the nuclear American family and went to places The Simpsons were unwilling to go. Family Guy is no longer credible 20 years after its debut season. Family Guy is now the internet’s cultural whippingboy.
Family Guy was a very different show from the one it is today when it debuted on Fox in 1999. The show’s basic setup and cast of characters are the same. However, it premiered with a completely different tone. Cutaways were rare, humor was more gentle and subtle, and the zany streak that would develop after the reboot was much more muted. Family Guy seemed to have been aimed at a more traditional audience in its early years.
After MacFarlane’s baby was canceled, things changed. The show was then relaunched in its third season. Season 4 premiered in 2005. It is arguably the best run. Family Guy made a change of direction in 2002, switching from the set-up-knock down gags of the past to embrace the surreal, zany humour that would be its hallmark. Some might refer to the first seasons of Family Guy as the peak. Seasons 4-8 feel like Family Guy is firing on all cylinders.
Each character discovers their own comic niche during this period. Peter is at the right level, Lois less downtrodden, and Brian far removed from the pseudointellectual douchebag he would become. Each dynamic is comically lucrative without dipping into exploitative humor. Each participant maintains some nuance while still making genuine laughs. Family Guy’s most memorable episodes include Season 4,’Petarded, and’TV_ to Season 6,’Lois Kills Stewie_ and Season 8,’Road To the Multiverse_.
Family Guy’s “golden period” features some of its strongest writing. While its cutaway gags are often decried for being lazy and out-of-date, they remain fun and entertaining, rather than confusing and arbitrary. These seasons coincided with the rise in video streaming sites like YouTube, which made it easy to create these short sketches and vignettes. Many of the perennial favorites, such as’Alan Rickman’s Answering Machine’, Peter Narrates his Own Life_, Cookie Monster In Rehab_, and Will Smith’s Clean Rapping’ have been viewed millions of times online.
These days are long past and just like The Simpsons has been suffering from the laws diminishing returns. Fox’s animated sitcom has suffered a huge decline in quality and its growing contempt for its characters. Family Guy has never received the respect and love it deserved from its peers and contemporaries. Criticism and disapproval were present before any real dip in quality.
South Park’s Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Matt Stone are outspoken about their hatred for their animated rival. They admitted that they “love it…we just don’t respect its writing”. Stone and Parker shared their disgust at Family Guy’s episode ‘Cartoon Wars’. They spoke of getting calls from writers from King of The Hill and The Simpsons thanking them for doing “God’s work”. South Park’s parody barbs stemmed from its creators’ belief that the rival cartoon was filled with lazy writing and easy gags. This assessment has become increasingly relevant. Family Guy’s downfall has led to it being almost universally disregarded by audiences and critics alike.
The characters of the show have seen the most drastic decline in quality. The Griffins have suffered the most from changes that have made them less like their former selves. Peter, once a charming idiot, is now vindictive and ignorant to a point of farce. Meg and Chris have difficulty forming a coherent narrative between themselves. Their characters become two-dimensional adolescent caricatures that are used as punching bags or sources of cheap gags about masturbation. Once the Griffins were a dysfunctional, but cohesive family unit. Now most dynamics are based on mutual hatred or disillusionment.
Every dignity and respect that any character may have earned has been replaced with narratives, situations, and characters designed to portray them negatively. Brian’s search for intellectual security has been replaced with pseudo-intellectual Hypocrisy. His earlier romantic dalliances have turned into grotesque and amoral womanizing. Joe, a disabled cop, was an excellent cop in previous seasons and he overcame all the challenges of a predominantly physical job. His disability makes Joe the subject of many jokes about catheters or poop bags. These jokes are more based on cynicism, vitriol, than satire and subversion. Joe’s treatment on the show is a prime example of the nasty and shallow tone that the writers have adopted throughout the series. It is clear that the writers have abandoned their characters and are actively trying to discredit them.
Family Guy’s best narratives from its previous seasons are gone. Although the show was a mess, the writers still managed to craft stories that were authentic, insightful, and sometimes even funny. Season 5’s Barely legal, in which Meg falls for Brian following a prom pity date with him, is a hilarious and heartfelt comedy that explores the insecurities of Brian. Season 4’s a href=”https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0837965/”>Barely Legal’ pokes fun at organized religion while Season 5’s The Father and the Son and the HolyFonz ‘ focuses on gay marriage with relative sincerity.
Family Guy is now chasing a zeitgeist, attacking millennials and Trump (‘ Trump Guy ) for easy material. Many ideas are often taken from other successful shows like’Please’, which closely resembles ‘HTTPete’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s The Gang Gets Analyzed_’, or’Holly Bumble_, which simply rehashes The Simpsons anthology Simpsons Bible Stories_.