In Defense of Family Guy, part 1 of 60,000,000

Ok, so the cool thing to do on the Internet these days is to rip Family Guy. You can go into any comment thread about any topic and find someone bashing Family Guy, followed by fifteen people agreeing, one person disagreeing, 10 angry posts calling the one guy an idiot, a rickroll, and 3 more idiot posts. I mean literally anywhere on the Internet: Deadspin, Onion AV Club, DailyKos, Nietzsche’s Nook, wherever. If you only knew about Family Guy from Internet comment threads, you’d have about the same level of respect for Seth MacFarlane as most people do for Captain Kangaroo, except if Captain Kangaroo was actually Commandant Kangaroo and he tried to turn children in to Stalinists, but it was 1958, so you were actually be worried about that sort of thing.

The typical complaint is that Family Guy is just a random string of pop culture jokes. Which Seth MacFarlane actually agrees with. The random cutaways are fully interchangeable. In season 6, they even started doing meta-jokes about it (see “Back to the Woods” and “Believe it or not, Joe’s Walking on Air”). The plot of each episode is then a pointless vehicle for celebrity jokes. And this statement is 100% totally wrong. In fact, if someone says “I hate Family Guy, all they do is make Gary Coleman jokes,” you can immediately assume they have seen 7 minutes of one episode, but have seen the South Park episode making fun of it six times.

Family Guy makes a lot of jokes about pop culture. But there’s so much more to it than that. Without even getting into the characters and the plots and how secretly brilliant those are, I can show you fifteen random cutaways that are more interesting than anything South Park or the Simpsons or Frisky Dingo or the Venture Brothers* or whatever the popular cartoon is these days has done in the last 5 years.

*The reason I mention the Venture Brothers is that in one particularly vitriolic attack on Family Guy, one anonymous commenter said it was the best show on Adult Swim and six people agreed with him. Lest there be any confusion, it is most assuredly not. It actually makes Aqua Teen look funny. Family Guy is so far superior, it even does action show parodies better. Which is the point of Venture Brothers. So…

An example? Sure! How about in “You May Now Kiss the, uh, Guy who Receives,” when Peter sets up a flashback to when Moby Dick stayed at their house? Moby Dick turns out to be a whiny, annoying jerk, and his conversation at the table with Peter is priceless. Another one? How about in “Saving Private Brian” when they show Gregory Peck and his three sons, who are all miniature versions of same, on a road trip? You see, the one thing no one readily admits is that it’s hard to do that over and over again but keep the references funny and interesting. And Family Guy does that for 26 or so episodes a year.

Some day I’ll get around to painstakingly laying out why the characters are so great. But even if the show was whittled down to only the cutaways (i.e. made into Robot Chicken), what would the problem be? The cutaways are funny. They show a healthy combination of contempt and bemusement at our culture, wrapped up in the knowledge required to make incredibly deep references that are made more funny because they’re unexpected. Or as my sister would say, “Sweet ref.”

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One Response to “In Defense of Family Guy, part 1 of 60,000,000”

  1. Michael Lynch Says:

    omg u r retarted

    south park >>>>>>>>>> fambly guy

    Dictated but not read,
    Michael T. Lynch
    Columbia University, SEAS ’09

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