The decline of Family Guy (A brief essay)

It all started in January, 1999. The Denver Broncos had just defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII (John Elway’s swan song), and Fox found the perfect avenue to promote a new program it was experimenting with-what they started was a national phenomenon that gave the slightly more twisted minds something to watch. That phenomenon was Family Guy, and its premise was a typical cartoon sitcom, but Quahog, Rhode Island was not your typical town, and the Griffin family was a tad more unusual than your other typical ones:
Peter Griffin, the dim-witted, drink-happy breadwinner, but was also good-hearted and quite loveable. Worked for the Happy-Go-Lucky toy factory (owned by Mr. Weed).
Lois Griffin (nee Pewterschmidt), the housewife who came from a wealthy family, but left it all behind to follow her heart. Though this comedy’s straight woman found her family a constant source of aggrivation, she genuinely loved them.
Meg Griffin The oldest child and only daughter, she seems to have gotten all her appearance features from her dad. Basically, she went through the typical issues a teenage girl went through (having a hard time fitting it at James Woods High School because of her looks).
Chris Griffin The middle child (and oldest son), seems to have taken his personality from his dad (dim-witted early-teen who enjoys playing pranks on his sister, but is genuinely good-hearted and very sweet-natured). One of the few who maintained his amiable personality (somewhat) in the post-cancellation version.
Stewie Griffin The maniacal genius baby son, often posed plots to either take over the world (as a Pinky and the Brain fan, I can definitely be a fan of that) or dispose of his mother. An excellent bit of comedy for the more mature folk, too bad they mainly got rid of that for the post-cancellation version.
Brian The talking family dog who frequently served as the voice of reason. In one episode, he even tried to snap Peter out of his delusions of godliness by saying the True One is really ticked off once the Plagues of Egypt start coming to the house.

The supporting cast kept this up, and even though it made for some skewered episodes (see the one where Peter’s devoutly practicing Catholic dad makes his debut), none were downright offensive. Alas, all that changed when it was cancelled, and then on the third season, it returned…This show has been a steady decline into complete offensiveness ever since. Don’t believe me? Check out these synopses in the next post:

North by North Quahog - The first episode of the “second coming,” shows Peter & Lois trying to get some spark back into their marriage by going on a second honeymoon. Though their car crashes along the way (Peter tries reading his comic book while driving), the two make it all the way to New York City, where they sneak into Mel Gibson’s hotel suite and come across the outright blasphemous “Passion of the Christ 2” co-starring Chris Tucker (or is it Chris Rock?-tom-AY-to, tom-AH-to). While I can admire their effort in disposing of the flick to make sure it never sees the light of day, I would have written their ending differently. The episode shows the priests trying to get ahold of it, while P&L battle and ultimately defeat them and Mel on top of Mount Rushmore. I would have ended it by having P&L surrender the tape to the priests, but once they see it, they almost throw up in disgust, drop their support of Mel, convince the Church leaders to do the same, and then the battle is won non-violently. But alas, this is only the beginning of the downslide.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz - When Peter’s dad Francis comes back to make sure Stewie is baptized, he ignores the priest’s warnings that the holy water is tainted and does the job himself (though Peter adds “and Space Ghost” to the formula). Meanwhile, Peter tries to do a search of which faith is right for him, so first he tried Mormonism (but left when he found out they didn’t allow alcohol), then he tried Jehovah’s Witnesses (but left when everybody slammed the door in his face), and finally he tried Hinduism (but was expelled after tackling one of their members-apparently Peter mistook the red dot on his forehead for a sniper light). So eventually he starts the First United Church of the Fonz, which adapts various Happy Days symbols and phrases and weaves them into Catholic imagery and rites (the stained-glass windows depict various characters, plus the big figure of the Fonz with both thumbs up in the center). This ultimately fails, however, when other celebrities come forward and attract the followers to their own cults.

You May Now Kiss The…Uh…Guy Who Receives - Brian’s flamboyantly gay cousin Jasper is getting “married” to his partner from Hollywood, while at the same time Mayor Adam West (to distract the people from his spending several million on a gold statue of Sugar Smacks’ Dig ‘Em the Frog) enacts a law banning gay “marriage” in Quahog. Brian circulates a petition to overturn the law, which is later destroyed by Chris on the insistence of his newest girlfriend from the Young Republicans Club. Eventyally, everybody “sees the (false) light,” but I couldn’t help but take offense to Brian’s bigoted reply to Lois’ initial discussion about what the Bible says (“The Bible also says a senior citizen put together two of every animal on a boat”)

The Courtship of Stewie’s Father - Though not exactly focused on that, it contains a flashback sequence where the young Jesus talks back to Joseph, saying “you’re not my real dad anyway!” and he calls God the Father, who, after the call is done, is shown in his cloud-bed with a woman, who pulls out a condom! Then God says “C’mon, it’s my birthday!”-my apologies for even mentioning that, I find that as offensive as you did, and if I ever meet you, I will reimburse you for the lunches you lost.

Sibling Rivalry - Peter donates to an IVF sperm bank, after which a lesbian couple decides one of them should be insemenated, and nine months later Stewie’s half-brother Bertram (from Emission Impossible) finally emerges for his revenge. I think that’s all you need to know.

Prick Up Your Ears - James Woods High School doesn’t have sex-ed, so Lois applies for a job as a teacher in that department. However, after parental complaints, that job is dropped and replaced with an abstinence-only program. Though they specifically point out that the abstinence is until marriage, Peter gets ahold of of one of the pamphlets Meg & Chris got and doesn’t seem to get that part, so he gives up sex entirely-even within his marriage-much to Lois’ chagrin, of course.

Love, Blactually - At the intro, Brian breaks up with his newest girlfriend at the Halloween party when she dresses as one of the “aborted unborn babies”-Brian then proceeds to ask her a very offensive question, at which point she (rightfully) leaves. Then at the bookstore, he meets a woman who also wants to buy Richard Dawkins’ “The God delusion” (this is the first we hear that Brian is an atheist-which the show’s creator Seth McFarlane is too)

I Dream of Jesus - After an actually funny opening plotline about Peter’s obsession with “Surfin’ Bird,” it then continues to Peter finding Jesus working at the record store. According to this episode’s theology, Jesus comes back every 100 years to check up on the world, but does so where nobody will recognize him. At the dinner table, everyone’s brussels sprouts and liver are miraculously changed to ice cream sundaes (while to counter Peter’s continuing doubts, Jesus enlarges Lois’ breasts to the point where they fall on the table…I could never stand to watch this, so this is just from an episode review…note I am doing you a mercy by not describing the rest.

to be continued in the next post)

Family Gay - Sweet Lord Jesus, where do I begin? To raise extra money for the house, Peter volunteers himself as a human guinea-pig, where he is injected with, along various other materials, the “gay gene” (which of course does not exist in real life). Soon afterwards, Peter feels the effects, and though very helpful with house redecorating, soon rejects Lois’ advances in the bedroom and then leaves the family outright to “partner” with a gay man. Disgusted with all this, Brian sends him to a “straight camp” where-are you ready?-the man in charge utters the most offensive thing I have ever heard on TV, referring to “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, [hide]who hates many people, but none more than homosexuals[/hide]”. At this point I had just stopped watching then and there (I had continued in hopes for some occasional actual humor), but I read that’s not where they stopped.

Not All Dogs Go to Heaven - Though I enjoyed the whole plot where Stewie talks to the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast (voiced by the actual people who played these parts), the subplot was very bothersome-at the convention, Peter makes Meg stand next to one of the Trekkies, not realizing he has mumps. Since Meg was never vaccinated, she catches them, but watching TV where the only channel seems to be WVCY, upon recovering she becomes a zealous born-again Christian. Brian is very bothered because of this, but Meg gets her revenge by announcing to the city that he’s an atheist, making this dog the most hated creature in town. Since no bar will serve him, Brian fakes conversion, going with Meg to a book-burning and then spewing his atheist propaganda at the end (at least South Park makes just as much fun of atheism-Trey & Matt find that it makes the least sense of all belief systems)

Family Goy - Lois realizes her Jewish roots (a nod to her voice actress Alex Borstein), to which Peter first takes a very strong devotion too. However, when the ghost of his now-learned-to-be “stepdad” Francis (don’t ask how he got this way-they just liked killing him off) warns Peter that he’ll burn in hell unless he stays with the Catholic faith (didn’t some priest once get excommunicated for saying that?), Peter turns anti-Semitic. But then Jesus appears towards the end to let everyone know of the Catholic faith’s strong roots in Judaism (about the Last Supper being a Seder meal)-which would be a very good lesson if it weren’t for what came next.
[hide]Peter: So, which religion is the right one?
“Jesus”: Oh, they’re all complete bull.
Brian (the atheist): AMEN to that![/hide]

So, yeah. It’s like a shipwreck at this point…I plan to use this as the basis of a book I’m writing about the growth of anti-Catholic bigotry in media and how we can help take action against it. Once again, I’m sorry for grossing you out, but the truth about this decline needed to be told.

Peace in Christ,

**Garbage In, Garbage Out!
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


I agree. I used to watch this show but only for a time. Now my brothers watch this show, and I always tell them to change the channel. They look at me as if I am strange or something. They just don’t realize that it truly is trash.

What are the ratings lately?

We used to love Family Guy, and still record it, but we don’t hurry to watch it. I agree, it’s not really funny anymore, although it has its moments. I really loved the episode where Stewie and Brian take Mort the Jew back into time to Poland and get caught up in the Nazi invasion of Poland and have to try to sneak Mort into England so he’ll be safe. That was the high point in the last few seasons.

I personally think that the show is self-destructing. It’s losing its audience. I think a lot of children of the 60s and 70s (e.g. my husband and me) used to watch it faithfully because it struck chords with us–reminded us of those days of “Don’t Trust anyone over 30,” and “Rebel against the Establistment.” And I think that college students liked it. I don’t know anyone at all who watches it anymore. It’s just gotten too weird. A lot of the kinky sex stuff isn’t funny because too many children and young women have shown up raped, dead, and buried.

And I agree that a lot of the religion stuff isn’t that funny anymore because the characters are so twisted that we can’t trust them or feel any kinship with them. The Simpsons continue to joke about religion, but we know and love Marge and Homer and we have a context in which to evaluate their comments and actions. We know that Marge and Homer are basically good people with a strong marriage and that they go to church faithfully. Not so with Family Guy–the characters are bizarre and schizophrenic.

I think the show’s days are numbered. I think that if the writers want to save it, they have to steer back towards a more reasonable course, the course that the show started out with. Living through a nuclear holocaust and eating nothing but Twinkies–that’s really funny!! Stewie and Brian driving across the country to retrieve Stewie’s teddy bear–that’s funny, too, and really creative and cute, especially the musical numbers. And the episode where Peter was playing with the Patriots football team and Tom Brady, and Peter did the big production number after he scored a touchdown–that was hilarious! And the episode where Death came to live with the Griffins (Norm McDonald played Death)–I loved that episode.

But gay dogs and gay genes and gay this and gay that (including Baby Stewie) and ridiculing religion and abortion jokes and incest jokes and bestiality jokes and farting jokes–these aren’t funny at all. This is the kind of thing that nerdy,creepy, misfit kid in your 3rd grade class used to try to crack everyone up, but no one laughed except him.

What Cat said.

Its sad, becasue I really liked the show at first…Stewie is a hoot, & a talking dog? It used to be fun…until the rot set in.:frowning:

Post-cancellation Family Guy in a nutshell:

“You think THAT’S bad? Remember the time I…”

Seth McFarlane goes on some soapbox extolling the virtues of socialism and/or moral relativism via his animated mouthpiece, Brian the Dog

The End

i love family guy, it’s offensive because it’s geared toward teenagers and young adults and not meant to be taken like some of you take it.

By that, I assume you mean that we’re not supposed to pay attention to the fact that Seth McFarlane uses the show as his own personal soapbox? :rolleyes:

I disagree that it’s geared toward teenagers and young adults.

I realize that I probably work with a lot of exceptional teenagers (mainly in the arts, including live theater and music). But I don’t know a single teenager who watches this show.

And many of my co-workers are young adults. The only young adults I know who watch this show are my daughter and her husband, and even they don’t think the show is as funny as it used to be.

I stick by the statement in my first post, that the show is actually geared toward the baby boomers like me who grew up in the 60s and 70s because it hearkens back to the days of “Don’t trust the establishment” and “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” and “Turn on and tune out.”

And as I said in my other post–at one time, I absolutely loved this show. I’m definitely not a prude.

I listed several examples of shows that I think were screamingly hilarious, absolutely wonderful comedy. My favorite FG is the episode where there was a nuclear holocaust (I think because of Y2K?), and all the people of Quahog had to re-locate to a Twinkie factory–the only food that survived the nuclear destruction. They ate Twinkie casserole. I remember that Glen and Cleveland were fused together, and that created some problems when Cleveland made love to his wife. It really was funny.

I don’t mind offensiveness, and I think that as long as the offensiveness isn’t levied against one particular group, it can be convicting and help to create social awareness. The Simpsons is a show that makes fun of almost everything and everyone (except Muslims–read The Gospel According to The Simpsons for the explanation as to why they leave Islam alone).

But it seems that in the last year, FG has been fixated on “gay” offensiveness, anti-religion, and farting. These are the kind of jokes that a nerdy, geeky 14-year old weirdo boy snorts milk through his nose over. And all the other kids roll their eyes and call him “nerdy, geeky, weirdo” and don’t laugh along with him. These things are perhaps funny once, but over and over, it’s not funny. It’s stupid. Offensiveness isn’t the issue. This stuff is just not funny at all.

As I mentioned in the other thread–I loved–LOVED!–the recent episode where Stewie and Brian use Stewie’s Time Machine (a baby with a time machine in his room-now THAT’S funny!) to go rescue Mort the Jew after he accidently sends himself back in time to Poland. (Mort thought the Time Machine was the bathroom–funny!) When they arrive in Poland, it’s the day of the Nazi invasion, and Mort is in mortal danger, so Stewie and Brian use every trick in the book to rescue him and get him to safety in England. This is a powerful story that has love and respect as the underlying theme. I’m sure there are people would be offended when Mort pretends to be a Catholic priest to fool the Nazis, but I thought it was funny, and I’m sure there were Jews who DID impersonate priests and nuns during the real Holocaust.

I think that if McFarlane would do more of these kinds of episodes, with a riveting plot and good characters that we actually care about, he could still be very very funny (like the first few seasons). But this stupid stuff is going to ruin his show.

^Exactly (The only part I didn’t dig was where Stewie’s disguise had a “McCain-Palin” button on it-similar to their version of Star Wars: A New Hope where the opening scene had the Imperial Star Destroyer with a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker)

And kudos to that guy who also did the post about it being turned into Seth’s personal soapbox…sadly, that’s pretty much what it’s become (a few episodes are exempt though-the last one I really enjoyed was “Big Man on Hippocampus”-basically had an underlying theme of real marital love standing out towards the end-plus that “Captain Picard’s Flute” bit was HILARIOUS!)

But still, I wish he’d just stick to entertainment and keep his own personal systems mostly out of Family Guy (he seems to have done a better job of that with American Dad and The Cleveland Show)…

One way to lose respect for something or someone is to turn it into a joke to be laughed at. Immodesty and indecent behavior are not jokes. An appropriate sense of shame needs to return. The creator of this show should feel some shame. It appears he wants the viewers of his work to feel no shame either.

God bless,

To DeaconsSon87 -

If you’re writing a book, I recommend getting a copy of The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian.

Apparently, thanks to the Down with the Establishment, Don’t trust anybody Over 30, and general Hippie mentality that still exists, respect for anything is iffy at best.

God bless,

It isn’t really aimed at ALL young adults, so much as it is to stoner college kids… and also burned-out 60s radicals.

Really? Guys who have been stoned since the '60s and teenagers raised by the TV set? How much disposable income do these people have?

God bless,

This is what is wrong with our culture today. Too many people think all of the filth on TV or in the movies is ok. That it is just a show or a movie, why get bent out of shape. Why, the media has a big role in shaping our culture. It affects our minds along with our society. It is not innocent entertainment. Just look how our culture has been degrading over the past 40-50 years. I agree with a prior post about garbage in, garbag out. Our heart is supposed to be with God, not filth. So where is our heart?

“For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” (Matthew 6:21)

I have read it & it is an excellent book. Also, I agree with your prior post, there is no more shame within our country, as long as it make you feel good, anything goes.

How about this part:

Meg was only born because the abortionist was closed the day they drove to the clinic and for whatever reason, they were not able to go back. I suppose that is actually a good thing.

Chris: Chris is so messed up because he was a failed attempt by Louis to smoke lots of cigarrettes and drink lots of alchol to procure a self abortion.

She gives this advice to Meg and says, just don’t chicken out halfway or you’ll end up with Chris.

This, to me, is not funny at all. It’s like the old Seinfeld show–booger jokes, masturbation jokes, cold wienie jokes–this isn’t funny at all to me.

Eating nothing but Twinkies (in casseroles even) is funny. Peter driving the Popemobile is funny. Stewie and Brian (a dog and a baby) driving across country is funny. Norm McDonald as Death was hilarious! Meg joining the cult and escaping mass suicide at the very last minute because she decided that she should go home and attend her brother’s birthday party with the rest of the family–that was funny and touching. Even Glenn discovering for the first time that the computer has porn is kind of funny (and we thought this guy knew all the kinks!).

I think that McFarlane is trying much too hard and using graphic bloody violent analogies to try to get a laugh. There is absolutely nothing funny about child rape, abortion, anal sex with an unwilling partner, scatology, blasphemy against any religion, etc.

What’s so tragic is that at one point (first few seasons of the show, and the first season of the comeback), McFarlane was very funny without resorting to the gross imagery.

He needs to go back to that insane, fantastic, imaginative, over-the-top humor that put the Griffin family into the strangest of situations and had them emerge a stronger family than ever. McFarlane needs desperately to help us have some kind of sympathy with the characters. At the moment, I don’t really care two pennies about them. OTOH, if Homer Simpson were to die of a heart attack while eating his one millionth Lard Lad donut, I would be in tears. I would join the national day of mourning for Homer. He’s been one of my pals for decades.

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