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Lois, Stewie, Peter, Brian, Meg, Chris & Brian

Animated Fox TV sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane

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It Began as a Hilarious Show...

  • Jun 28, 2009
  • by

When Family Guy first premeired in 1999, we were all taken aback by Family Guy.  As with many new adult cartoon shows, Family Guy was branded as a Simpsons knock off.  And true enough, the inspiration from The Simpsons was there.  But as the show grew it branched out in the very same season into it's own show.  It was hilarious with it's wity pop culture references and just all around fun humor.  The show eventually became so controversial and "offensive" that it got cancelled.  But after strong DVD sales of the first and second seasons on DVD it was brought back to Fox in 2005.  That is probably when most of us can point out that it began to lose it's magic.  But truthfully, it still had something. 

Presently, in 2009, the show is now a former shadow of what it once was.  Is Seth MacFarlane and company losing their touch?  Not exactly.  It seems to be more that they let success go to their head.  They push the envelope more than they ever have.  But let me be frank: It is not that the show is offensive that detracts from it.  It is mostly that the show has lost the comedic edge.  More than that, in some instances it sacrifices its humor to take cheap shots at political figures or state MacFarlane's own political position.  But we'll get to that in a moment.  The rating comes from combining the good with the bad.  Unfortunately, as it stands, much more of the bad shows than the actual good these days. 

When the show began it actually used to be about something.  The pop culture references were appropriate and funny.  Many times we could watch the show and feel like we were in on the gag.  It was nice to be able to point out the references, identify with it and laugh.  And even if you didn't understand the reference, you could still laugh about it just for the sake of the shows humor.  But within these gags and references, it was nice to see that Family Guy had something to say.  In early episodes, while it may not seem like it, you can see family lessons and values come out in a satirical way.  In short, in spite of all its pop culture references and cutaway gags, the show still had focus.  More than that, there would be jokes that didn't have to rely on cutaway gags all the time.  And characters even got a bit of focus.  Peter always had his shenanigans, Lois was the homemaker, Chris would be the son learning from his father and Meg was the daughter.  The bread and butter, however, used to be Stewie an Brian.  The episodes where they traveled together such as "Road to Rhode Island," were classic episodes.  They were episodes, in fact, that Family Guy fans craved to see with each new season.  But most of what made it fun was Stewie being the evil baby out to kill his mother and Brian being the yin to his yang. 

Even the supporting characters were fun.  Joe and his uncontrollable rage, Quagmire and his perversions.  While Cleveland seemed to serve no purpose than to be the Token Black Guy, he still had his fair share contributions when it came to his mannerisms.

The older episodes to this day are still a lot of fun to watch.

Yet, once the show came back in 2005, certain things began to stand out much more about the show.  The first being that the cutaway gags are becomig more tedious and less funny.  Seth MacFarlane has shown that he has encycolpedic knowledge of pop culture, but he doesn't apply it as well as he once did.  Each new episode is filled with so many references and cutaways that at times it's easy to forget what the episode is actually about or even what it's trying to say.  Certainly Family Guy has always had these cutaways, but they used to work them in appropriately.  Or, in some cases, the references even had something to do with the episode.  But nowadays it feels like the writers are reaching into a hat and pulling out gags and then instead of throwing the paper away, they throw it back into the hat.  Yes, I am speaking of recycled gags.  The first time Peter fought the chicken it was beautiful.  The second time it was okay, but the third fight was pushing it.  And not because it was repeated, but because like so many cutaway gags now, it just got a little too long.  This has been happening with many gags.  In a more recent episode where Peter and his friends sneak into Carter Pewterschmitt's vault, we're treated to a cutaway of the Christian Bale rant... with Peter spliced in.  The gag begins as being quite funny.  But it soon drags on... long after it stops being funny.  In another episode where Peter meets Jesus in a record store we are forced to listen to Peter dance and sing to "Surfin' Bird" for nearly ten minutes total!  Except this was a bit that wasn't even that funny to begin with.  In that same episode we get an overly long clip of Brian and Stewie smashing that same record.

It's also a shame how repetitious some of the jokes get.  How many more times can Meg be the butt of a joke?  For that matter, how much longer will MacFarlane keep reminding us that Meg is the reject child?  Lisa Simpson wasn't all that popular either, but the show NEVER threw her under the bus.  In fact, there were many episodes where Lisa is the focal point.  Meg, however, is often exploited.  Chris is even worse as he gets almost no attention or lines at all in the newer episodes.  And when he does it's usually the same old stuff.  The evil monkey in his closet or something like that.  Quagmire still gets a ton of sex jokes, but even they're not that varied anymore.  Cleveland almost seems to be there just so they can say they have a black character (although that may be because he's getting his own show).  Stewie has almost abandoned his conquest for world domination and killing Lois. 

Worse than all this is without a doubt Brian.  Who only seems to serve as MacFarlane's own political hand puppet.  There's nothing wrong with a cartoon getting political.  As long as there is balance.  We get it, Seth is a Democrat and thinks Republicans are stupid.  Yet at times even when you agree with him, it's annoying.  Mainly because he has to sacrifice the comedy to do it.  In one episode where Peter goes back in time and doesn't marry Lois, he gets back to the present to realize that Bush is not President, but Al Gore is and EVERYTHING is at peace (obviously this episode aired before the recent election).  It not only sacrifices comedy, but has to make a plug about the 2000 election being unfair.  Isn't time we let that go?  Worse is that it gives no credence to the other side of the issue.  Is there a reason why Repblicans might oppose Same-Sex Marriage?  Not in MacFarlane's mind... they're just stupid. 

Now let us not get side tracked.  I am in no way stating my own political beliefs, so let's not make with political discussion in the comments.  I've not revealed any of my beliefs and I hope you have enough respect not to judge, dear reader (because I like the Lunch community and believe we're above that--go review a pundit if you ARE looking for that kind of discussion).  I'm simply saying that Family Guy will provoke discussion, but not for the right reasons.  And once again, he sacrifices comedy to do it for the sake of making his opposition look completely and utterly clueless.  Worse is that MacFarlane tries very hard to pass it all off as high brow intelligence.  This would be fine... IF IT WERE FUNNY!  And it's quite clear comedy is what he's going for most times.  South Park can be preachy, but it at least remains funny while doing it, and points out what may be wrong with both sides of the equation if need be.

Lastly there's all that shock.  Again, most of the time it just isn't funny.  Nowadays it seems as though Family Guy is seeing how far it can go, rather than going for comedic gold.  It's mostly there for shock value rather than to be funny.  Most times you probably won't be offended, but you will find yourself asking, "What was the point of that?"  MacFarlane says it's to be funny.  The problem is that it isn't most of the time.  Not anymore, because it seems to serve no purpose other than to be shocking

In most cases, it seems like MacFarlane and company are throwing darts while wearing a blindfold and hoping something hits the board.  A chuckle here, a smile there.  Most of the time however, nothing hits.  In fact, a lot of the time it's way off.

You can still get laughs from the show.  Even today, but most times they're few and far between.  In some cases you might not get a single laugh from an episode.  Others you might chuckle.  The laugh out loud moments, however, are just not there like they once were.  The classic episodes are still hilarious.  But with the newer episodes your mileage may vary.  Between the humorless cutaways and the political bantering and the repetitive jokes one has to wonder when Family Guy will reach its glory days again.  I find it hard to believe a show as grand as this once was could peak out so soon. 

Some may still get plenty of laughs out of the show.  That's great, but there are more and more fans expressing more and more disappointment.  If you still find the show hilarious, I'm glad.  If you're one who believes it's sinking there might still be hope.  Family Guy may not be as funny as it once was, but it hasn't quite jumped the shark yet.  If it gets fresher material and leaves some of its political commentary behind, it may still achieve the greatness it once had.

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June 18, 2011
I think Family Guy jumped the shark long ago. The first three seasons were funny but the show was nothing special. Now that it returned, like you said the show's jokes are too few and far between and for me, wading through it's lame politics is irritating. It's really hard to stand on a soap box and make your speeches when the show is making racial or rape jokes the next minute. It should have stuck to zaniness. South Park to me will always be better at balancing the sick humor with it's morals. Thank you for the review.
More Family Guy reviews
review by . October 27, 2009
20 minutes of pure self indulgance and cutting material as sharp as a butter knife.  Thats the best way I can sum Family Guy up.  This show ever since it returned to TV a few years ago has become just that, a pure vehicle for Seth McFarlane's love or mouthpiece for his ideas and politics.      Even before that, the show was shallow with cheap shot jokes, sappy writing, and characters that are painful clones of Fox's OTHER snimated series, the one that had …
review by . June 22, 2010
This show is definitly the funniest show of all time. Seth MacFarlane is a genious. Not only does it have the best comedy of any show I've ever seen, but it also has the most clever jokes. It takes stuff that happens in every day life and turns it into something histarical. I could watch the show over and over again. There are 6 seasons for you to enjoy so far, but there are more to come.  Personally I think it is the best show ever, but there are some reviews that aren not as nice. …
Quick Tip by . August 04, 2010
Although I find this show hilarious, I know it is offensive to some. It is defiantly a show by choice or by acquired taste. It should at least be watched before it is judged. I love it! Depending on your views some may not think it is suitable for children, that would be a personal choice.
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
Funny, yes. Critial forum that makes us look at ourselves, yes (not necessarily all viewers). However, some components of the show can drag on and be overdone. Also the show can become a bit formulaic.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
made of awesomeness
Quick Tip by . June 19, 2010
Good animated filthy comedy
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
Quick Tip by . May 22, 2010
Can't stop laughing!!
Quick Tip by . May 22, 2010
Honestly, at times I feel obligated to watch this show just for the crude humor.
Quick Tip by . May 01, 2010
Animated show that's clever days are far behind it replaced with obvious, preachy politics, take thats and as hollow as rubber ball. Shame.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this tv show


Family Guy is an animated television sitcom, which revolves around the dysfunctional life of the Griffin Family who live in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island. The family consists of parents, Peter (Seth McFarlane) and Lois (Alex Borstein), two teenagers, Chris (Seth Green) and Megan (Mila Kunis), a genius dog, Brian (Seth McFarlane), and the eccentric baby Stewie (Seth McFarlane). The show uses frequent gag jokes and irreverent humor, centering around spontaneous events and situations in the families life. Family Guy was canceled in 2000 and again in 2002, but was resurrected in 2005 due to strong DVD Sales and high viewership of re-runs. The show was created by Seth MacFarlane and currently airs on Fox, along with other television networks in syndication.

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Description: Animated Comedy Show

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