Reviews: Family Guy
Started off Meh; Currently Everything Wrong with Western Animation Targeted at Adults
I know that sounds a bit bold, but hear me out. When Family Guy first started, its first few seasons were just kind of...meh. Not great, not terrible, had a few funny moments, and even some of the cutaways were humorous. The characters were a bit generic (I can see where the "Simpsons rip-off" accusations came from, even though I never really thought they were fair), but the show was starting off, too, so I expected them fleshed out later on. After a while, though...it just got BAD. The cutaways became more frequent and pointless, the plots became a bore, and the whole show seemed to get more focused on just trying to piss people off than actually trying to be funny. And that's a big problem I have with Western adult cartoons in general. I don't mind a little cruelty or shock humor if it's amounting to something, but Family Guy just has it for the sake of it. Not to mention that whatever characters aren't flat, one-note tokens are horrible assholes (Peter, Lois, Brian, etc.) that I don't even know why I should care about. I like shows like Futurama, Rick and Morty, and Bojack Horseman because they're funny (and don't waste time on cutaways), but I can also like and care about their characters and what they go through. Shows like that should set an example for adult cartoons, not Family Guy.
A sad and miserable shell of what once it was.
Remember that class clown you had way back in them days? His hilarious and sometimes inappropriate outbursts often helped you struggle through untold numbers of boring and uninspiring classes, and in a way, helped you take yourself less seriously. After graduation, your ways parted, but you continued to look back on his childish antics rather fondly. Then some five years later, you meet by accident, and he's exactly the same; only, now he's become a raging alcoholic misanthrope loner that even lazy-eyed prostitutes know to keep at an arm's length. His sense of humor is still there, but it's just so goddamn mean-spirited. You intentionally try to avoid being recognized and question why the fuck you ever liked this person in any way. That's Family Guy. Back when it began, Family Guy was the perfect balance between the wacky pop-culture humor of The Simpsons, the sociopathic yet relatable family values of Married... with Children, with a dash of the social and political satire of South Park to boot. But far from feeling derivative, it had its very own sense of comic timing that made it stand out. Plain and simple, there probably wasn't anything else on contemporary TV with its ability to concoct fresh and unexpected laugh-out-loud situations of comedic legend. Now... it happened gradually, but over the years, it became the very thing sensationalist newspapers called it from its humble beginnings: a mean-spirited, obnoxiously self-important show existing purely to offend anyone, and everyone. Now, okay, sure, there is a place for such a show, but that spot is kind of taken by South Park, probably for all time. And whereas South Park did so in a clever fashion (before they ironically came to suffer from much the same problems as FG), Family Guy did it for the sake of it. I suspect it was a deliberate measure taken in the series' comparative old age as other shows were starting to do what Family Guy did, and arguably better, but they took all of the bad parts of Family Guy and turned it up to eleven. These days, I avoid it like the plague on moral grounds. Plain and simple, I owe myself better than that. And, you know, so do all the people still tuning into the mindless, zombified monster that Family Guy has become.
The show that strives to offend you.
I have to give FG props, it is probably the most insultive cartoon out there now. I mean it, no matter your race, age, gender, religious preference, sexual orientation or even dietary inclination, FG will find a way to offend you. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this show will offend you just for being a human! It takes cheap digs at everything an everyone. And then their are those stupid cut-away gags, seriously, can FG go for two seconds without making some sort of BLAM? All the characters are douches, even the one-off characters act like jerks. And if you love blood and gorn, your in for a real treat! If the artists were still using ink and paper they would need to haul in a tanker of red ink a week! Every time a character is beat up (which I swear happens once an episode) we are privileged to some lovely shots of buckets of blood, exposed bones and black eyes. This shows suppose to be a comedy, right? On to the shows humor, or lack there of. Pardon me, but I don't think making cracks at the disabled or ill is funny. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. This show knows it is offensive, and it PRIDES itself on this. it knows that its Fox's cash cow, and it uses that as a safety cushion, because Fox wont cancel its biggest money maker, no matter how bad it is. Much like SBSP, FG has gotten worse and worse as the seasons progress. Even the only two redeemable characters (Brian and Stewie) have become a bigoted author mouthpiece and a camp gay stereotype, respectively. This show treats things like domestic abuse, rape and suicides as JOKES. While it doesn't do as many jabs at politics and religion as its "brother" American Dad, FG can and will offend you. And the fact that there are two shows out right now by the same creator who obviously revels in offensive content, that seems to me that the "adult" cartoon industry is in a sad state of affairs. My final thoughts? Why didn't this show stay dead when it was canned the first time?
An Overrated Show, Annoying Amount of Cutaway Gags
This review is my opinion. When I say stuff in here like "Family Guy sucks", I'm not stating that as a fact, I'm stating that as my opinion. I hate Family Guy with a fiery, unrepentant passion. There, I said it. Half of the jokes have no connection to the plot, they're just cutaway gags with some people that aren't even characters. Or ones where a character just randomly mentions, "This is worse than the time I...". A lot of the other jokes are far too long. In "No Chris Left Behind", for example, a chicken (Peter's Arch-Enemy) randomly shows up, and Peter gets into a fight with him for almost 5 minutes. Yes, I understand that Overly Long Gags can be funny, but that fight with a chicken is overly long even for an overly long gag. Plus, like the cutaway gags, instead of being relevant to the plot, it's completely useless. I honestly think that if I had taken a bathroom break during that whole time, I wouldn't be confused at all about the plot. That said, it does have its good qualities. The "How I Met Your Father" gag in "No Chris Left Behind", for example, is a great satirization of the stupid rumors that How I Met Your Mother co-stars Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor were secretly dating. (For those of you unaware, it has Ted and Barney, actually voiced by their respective actors, falling in love and making out.) And the voice actors in general are pretty talented, even Seth MacFarlane, the show's creator. All in all, 0.5/5 stars.
Lower your Expectations.
I mean it. Watching Family Guy nowadays requires a very specific mindset of "I don't care about the characters or the BS that happens to them, just show me my damn cutaway jokes." The sad thing is, it wasn't always this way. As many have said before, Family Guy was good in Seasons 1-3. Remember when Peter tried to convert Chris to Judaism in order to ensure him a successful future? When Lois cared so much about Meg that she was willing to have Quagmire rape a bunch of girls at a party that were mean to her? When Chris and Peter went out into the woods for a spirit journey and bonded? When Meg had legitimate social anxiety and wasn't just an obsessive psycho who cuts herself? When Brian had legitimate character points and wasn't just a mouthpiece for the liberal cause? Or when Stewie was matricidal tot who had fun character traits, instead of being shoved into an effeminate stereotype who instead of using time travel for world domination, just uses it to goof off? What happened, Family Guy? Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen? I feel it's too late now for Family Guy to turn it around, it's become a show of nothing but recycling jokes and gags from the first three seasons to the point of annoyance. The show had potential to be good once, and event though I still like it, now it's nothing more than mean spirited people being jerks to each other. And I get enough of that in real life.
Why "Seahorse Seashell Party" Annoyed Me
What I have learned over the years is that Family Guy is much easier to watch if you remember that it is a cartoon and that none of its characters are real. That's not to say I haven't been offended at times; Family Guy's portrayal of religion and the Deep South in particular have been truly offensive. But they don't hold a candle to the most recent episode, Seahorse Seashell Party. In this episode, Meg finally forces Peter and Lois to see what horrible parents they are; she manages to reduce both to tears. While I will admit that seeing Meg call Lois a whore (she has a point) and pointing out that if there was anyone in the world who cared, Peter would be in jail for the way he treats her was immensely satisfying, the ending sort of soured it for me. Following Meg's verbal beatdown of her parents (she did it to Chris too, but it doesn't seem to have made a difference), Lois, Chris and Peter all start viciously laying into each other. Eventually, Meg and Brian are left alone in the living room and they start to talk, and Meg comes to the realization that the family needs her as a target for abuse in order to function. Meg is a bastion of sanity in the insane asylum that is the Griffin household. She is also, as Brian rightly pointed out, the strongest, most compassionate member of her family. Meg is the only Griffin capable of functioning properly without am emotional punching bag. Unfortunately, her Extreme Doormat tendencies win out over the badass level she gained in this episode, and she goes upstairs to tell her family that she's realized that it's okay to be a punching bag and deliberately invoke Status Quo Is God. The episode ends with a group hug and a sense of everything being hunky-dory, but given that this is Family Guy and Status Quo Is God, we can be sure that everyone will have forgotten about this by next episode and the abuse will be back on as though it never stopped. Peter will be back to shoving Meg's face into his butt so he can fart on her, Lois will be back to dropping hints that Meg should go kill herself, and Chris will be back to stealing her diary and calling his sister a fatass. Family Guy is only a good show if you don't give a damn about any of its characters. If you do, you're out of luck.
PLEASEEEEE Cancel this show
If you compare the old seasons to the new seasons of Family Guy, the changes are obvious. Family Guy used to be a funny show and the characters were likable. Peter was a jerk, but at least he loved his wife and kids. Lois was a loving mother and wife, Meg was just a teenage girl just like how Chris was a teenage guy. Brian used to be the Only Sane Man and Stewie used to spout out catch phrases and used to be evil. As for the new seasons, it's unfunny and painful to watch. The show has now become more mean-spirited towards characters like Meg, Joe, and (sometimes) Brian and Cleveland (before he moved). The characters have either been flanderized into jerks, homosexuals, and psychos. Don't get me started with the rape, sex, bullying, homophobic, and sexist jokes. I think the show should have remained cancelled.
While Family Guy has been getting darker over the years, its still a pretty funny series. Although, the Griffin Family (maybe Meg's an exception), have became mean-spirited. For example, Peter's abuse over both his kids and his wife Lois, also his selfishness can get out of hand and will never learn from it. Lois, who in the earlier seasons was fun,loving housewife, is now getting into her wild side and has cheated on Peter several times (with Bill Clinton and Meg's boyfriend). Chris is now more of an idiot and can sometimes be jerk to Meg or sometimes Stewie. Brian can be a liberal douche and hypocrite, but he still is one of the smartest members of the Griffin household. Meg, who was once a bratty teenage daughter, is now the series's punching bag. Even when she calls out her family's flaws, she then says that maybe being the family's punching bag keeps the family from separating. Stewie becomes more of a nice guy especially to Brian and no so bent on killing Lois, although he doesn't like her that much. Another thing that has changed is Quagmire, who was once just a Lovable Sex Maniac, is now a rapist. Although, he does care about Meg, the series's Butt Monkey , and not his sex partners. Also, Joe and Bonnie used to be Happily Married, until down the road somewhere, Bonnie got tired of Joe. So yeah, that's my review. Peace!
It's only season 9?... it feels much longer.
Family Guy has a convoluted history. Not only in its relationship with Fox, but in the ups and downs of its comedic aptitude. There are episodes and stories that were hilarious, and moments that made you smile in fond remembrance... and then there were shitty episodes that you watched because it was the only thing on at two in the morning, and the half a bottle of Johnny Walker sitting in front of you hadn't been as an effective a sleeping aid as you'd hoped. But now... well, in season 8 we had a few worthwhile episodes, some that actually touched a core in a few characters and showed development. But the only characters we saw this in were Brian (which mostly consisted of him repeatedly getting kicked into the gutter), Stewie (he still has some sociopathic qualities), and, oddly enough, Quagmire (well, he doesn't seem to be dateraping anyone anymore). Lois is simply more of a prejudicial Bitch In Sheeps Clothing than before, Peter is your standard idiot Abusive Parent who is the framing device for toilet humor and fucked-over ideology, Chris is a ditzy background character whose Cloud Cuckoo Lander moments are entertaining but ultimately shortlived and overshadowed by his parents, and Meg is... well, a prop. (She may have Took A Level In Badass in prison, but reverted to being the show's doormat and Chew Toy pretty fucking quick.) There has stopped being any real evolution in the characters long ago, and most of the humor now consists of your standard recycling of gags, resorting to caricature-esque diatribes on flamewar-worthy issues to try to spike up interest or controversy, and some meek-minded satire that falls flat on its face. The show just repeats back in on itself in a depressing, half-assed cycle, each revolution showcasing how more pathetic the situation and characters have all become. The only good episodes are ones centered on Stewie and Brian ("The road to..." anyone?), not because they're great or lovable characters (although personally I'm very fond of Stewie) but because they're the only ones with a modicum of depth and interactive value. If I want to watch a good Macfarlane cartoon, I watch American Dad. It may have started out as a knockoff, but it is has quickly left its original inspiration dying, painfully and slowly, in the dust.
What Happened To This Show?!
I'm of the opinion that Family Guy didn't always suck. At least for the few seasons before it got canceled and then uncanceled. But, in its defense, there were a few things that this show had that really hit the nail on the head: The voice actors. Patrick Warburton and Adam West were fantastic semi-regulars. They had a solid line-up of guest voices too, who definitely added color to their roles. Contrast this with South Park, whose characters all have various pitches of whiny and who purposefully neglected the use of guest stars. The fight scenes. Very nicely choreographed, especially whenever Peter fights the guy in the chicken costume. They used the environment creatively, much like a Chinese martial arts film. The songs. They've had a lot less of these recently, but most cartoons are pretty good with original songs. Family Guy had a few solid song parodies that worked ("Road to Rhode Island", "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein"). Recently they haven't done as many original works and instead opted to make lazier cuts to other songs (Conway Twitty). The lines. There are some earlier quotes that made me laugh. They were witty, brief, and didn't lead to random cutaway gags or jokes painfully drawn out. For example...
- Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.Peter: I had such a crush on her. Until I met you Lois. You're my silver medal.Peter: A guy at work bought a car out of the paper. Ten years later, Bam! Herpes.
Family Guy what happened to you?
Six years ago I could say I was a fan of the series. I found the humor to be more subtle and tasteful than what you'd expect from South Park. But as the seasons rolled on things became more unbearable to the point that I can't even watch the show anymore without seeing wasted opportunities and shock value humor. One thing that stands out in the early seasons was the line from the opening song "Those good old fashioned values." This rings true when you see that much of what Peter did was for the sake of his family. The well-fare fraud, trying to make Chris Jewish, "acquiring the assistance" of the Pope to talk to his father. Now adays the entire cast has become a relentless bunch of sociopaths who don't care who they abuse. Even Lois, who went to such lengths to give her daughter a decent spring break, became someone cold enough to tell her daughter to kill herself. The woman Peter fought so hard to win over has expressly stated that if he were unable to move, she would leave him. Brian and Stewie taking up much of the show's airtime becomes a minor offense when the two prove to be more moral and like-able than Peter or Lois. When they're together anyway. Plots that center around Brian and whatever political debate or love interest he's trying to win get stale fast though. In the early seasons much of the humor was derived from early pop-culture references and various randomness. Even without understanding those references there are plenty of moments that made me laugh. Modern episodes seem to have jumped on this mentality that being as offensive as possible is what's funny, so every episode we're treated to a joke about the big "hot buttons" of offensiveness. Those being rape, abortion and 9/11. Gross-out humor has also reached a peak where even the most desensitized can't enjoy a pizza while watching what was once their favorite show. Laziness in writing is another recent fault, to the point that the show spends much of it's time looking for ways to parody or lampshade itself, rather than work things into the plot with any decent level of writing ability. I know it's a gag show, but you can tell they've stopped trying when they call attention to the fact that something doesn't make sense, and just disregard it on the grounds that no one would care because status quo is god.
End it. Now.
Family Guy is... just a terrible, god awful show. But it used to be funny. Then it became the darling of FOX's sunday nights, and Seth Macfarlane, having realized that the effort he spent on making seasons 1-3 clever and actually tolerable was no longer needed, manipulated the show to become a mouth piece of his sociopolitical horseshit, as well as an exercise in vulgarity, knowing full well that the network loves him too much to hold him accountable for the consequences of his offensive output. The show reeks of laziness, from its sterile, bottom of the barrel animation to a writing staff that completely lacks any sense of comedic timing, narrative, or dignity. The centerpiece of the humour, the manatee gags, which used to be funny, are now drawn out in an attempt to pad out the wafer-thin plot to 22 minutes. The animation is full of recycling, particularly in body language, everything is drawn on the same plane at a 3/4 angle, and the characters rarely move (unless you count their gums flapping). Not to mention the blatant CG. The show has no respect for the issues it attempts to address, whether it ranges from gay rights to the war on terror. The hamfisted commentary is undermined by the compulsive need to offend, as evident in "Family Gay", where the effort in showing that being gay was not a choice (in an episode where Peter chose to be gay - temporarily) is muffled under a slew of stereotypical dialogue and the implications that gays have sex with 10 people at once. Or the recent Thanksgiving episode, where not only is the plot once again hijacked by Seth's aggravating author tract about the war in iraq, but the show dismisses any valid criticism about abandoning your civic duty for blatantly shilling what they feel is right (Joe is not a draft dodger; he willingly signed up for the war. Ida was completely right in lambasting him for running away. He is not just "some drag queen", Brian.) I could go on and on, but i'll get to the point. Seth Macfarlane will not change. He will make no effort into improving the quality of his scripts, animation, or moral character. He is protected by the networks who ignored him when he was making something that was actually enjoyable to watch. But in his position, where FOX has treated him like a ratings god and he openly thrives on his hatemail, the show will never improve, so stop holding out.
I might be alone on this one, but...
I personally believe that Season 9 was fantastic. The series' touching moments have returned, the lack thereof being one reason that certain fans ignore the post-revival episodes. The plots are excellent, especially episodes like The Big Bang Theory (Where Brian and Stewie accidentally create the universe) or And Then There Were Fewer (A wonderful murder mystery homage). Pretty much episode gets in a good amount of laughs. Plus, the animation's in Widescreen now, which looks quite good. Season 8 was picking up the pieces from the diatribe-filled, unfunny Season 7, but this season proved that the show was finally back. A damned fine season of good plots (especially for a gag-based show like this), funny jokes, and now, better animation.