Guest Author - Amy Ralston Young
Cartoons just aren’t what they used to be. For example, just look at FOX network’s Sunday night lineup – “King of the Hill,” “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “American Dad.”
These animated sitcoms appear to be kid-friendly, but they are anything but. I must admit I enjoy watching “The Simpsons.” It makes me happy to know that there are other dysfunctional families out there – even if they are imaginary.
I could never get into “King of the Hill” – mainly because I couldn’t understand a single thing Boomhauer said. Plus I was never a fan of Mike Judge’s other hit – “Beavis and Butthead.”
This brings me to “Family Guy.” In all fairness I decided to watch a few episodes, and I am really sad I did. This irreverent comedy based on the Griffin family’s exploits is a dirty little thing.
The Griffins live in the fictional Rhode Island town of Quahog – under the rule of delusional mayor Adam West (and to think he was such a good Batman). Peter (Seth MacFarlane) is the family patriarch. He’s a blue-collar worker and father of three. His wife Lois (Alex Borstein) is a stay at home mom who also teaches piano. Lois grew up as a member of the wealthy Pewterschmidt family. Meg (Mila Kunis) is the oldest child, and only daughter. She is frequently called out for her lack of beauty and inability to make friends.
Chris (Seth Green) is the oldest son. He is “big boned” and incredibly unintelligent. Stewie (Seth MacFarlane) is the youngest Griffin and although he looks like a baby, he speaks as if he has had an Oxford education. Stewie’s main life goal is total world domination, and he usually devotes his time towards accomplishing that. Rounding out the family is the Griffin’s dog Brian (Seth MacFarlane), who walks upright, speaks, and even tosses back a martini every now and again.
Although there are a few recurring characters, the show mainly focuses on the Griffin family, with other characters acting mainly as fillers.
The episodes are independent of one another, allowing writers to come up with crazy scenarios and not have to worry about explaining them later. The show also finds the Griffin family to be completely void of any sort of moral character.
In one episode, Lois develops a shoplifting habit. Brian convinces her to return the stolen goods, but she gets busted by a cop (and their neighbor) Joe Swanson. Lois then appears before a judge who sends her to prison. After the rest of the family realizes that without her they never have a decent meal and no one ever changes Stewie’s diaper, they decide to break her out. They sneak her out a hide in a laundry truck that leaves them in China town. They take up life there. Joe eventually finds them, but after Lois saves his life from a Korean gang, she is pardoned and they return to Quahog.
Another episode finds Stewie attempting to kill his mom. After he fails, Lois decides to kill the baby instead. Another episode makes light of slavery when Peter discovers he has a black ancestor. He joins a club of other descendants from slaves. In another show, Peter has plastic surgery and lipo and joins the beautiful people club. He learns to take advantage of the perks of being pretty and leaves his family behind.
The show is not only filled with moral-free scenarios, but interesting phrases and languages too. The words that come out of little Stewie’s mouth would make even Andrew Dice Clay blush. Still with all of this, the show has created quite a following. The show premiered in 1999 and has been cancelled twice – once in 2000 and again in 2002. After incredible success in DVD sales, FOX brought the sitcom back in 2005 and it continues today. “Family Guy” has won three Emmy Awards and has received another four awards and 23 nominations. In addition to new episodes, the show also appears in syndication on a couple of other networks.