Ah, Family Guy. An edgier counterpart to The Simpsons famed for its controversial content and use of cutaway gags that, despite usually not being related to the story, were usually screamingly funny. After three seasons and forty-nine episodes, Fox decided that the show wasn’t do well enough to continue being made and broadcast.
Following massive DVD sales, the show was revived and has been running ever since. Critically and financially, it’s gone from strength to strength. Quality-wise, it’s not doing so well. It still raises a few giggles there and there a few flashes of genius such as Season Ten’s Thanksgiving episode, and the meticulously well plotted Killer Queen, but it’s nowhere near as good as it was prior to its cancellation. Various negative things have wormed their way into the series, driven down its quality, and reduced it to the point where it should be axed before it can slip any further. And these are my top five…
1. The Characters
Almost every long-running TV show will have some characters undergo a change that’s commonly known as Flanderisation, the reduction of a character to only their most prominent personality traits. For example, over the ten years that Friends was on the air, Joey Tribbiani transitioned from not exceptionally intelligent, to being incapable of simple maths and not knowing left from right. Like many shows before it, Family Guy’s characters became victims of Flanderisation shortly after the show’s uncancellation:
Like Homer Simpson before him, Peter Griffin went from being a bumbling yet loving father, to an unstoppable, dangerous moron. Originally, he was as stupid as the plot required him to be, but as of Season Four, he became officially mentally disabled and his intelligence has only dropped from there.
Peter’s wife Lois was more or less a generic mother figure but was shown to have a devious edge to her when it came to protecting her children. Fast-forward to the most recent episodes and she’s pretty much just a sex-obsessive with a chequered past. Since the series’ reboot, she’s had affairs and been shown on several occasions to be practically incapable of living her life without regular sex.
The family’s anthropomorphic dog Brian went from being the only voice of the reason in the family to basically being Family Guy creator and voice artist Seth MacFarlane’s personal mouthpiece. Almost all of Brian’s dialogue could be replaced with “This is what I believe and anybody who doesn’t agree with it is either stupid or evil and right-wing”. Of course, the writers took this criticism onboard to a certain extent and compensated for it with an extended diatribe by secondary character Glenn Quagmire on why Brian’s such a fundamentally flawed person.
One year-old Stewie Griffin went from being a verbose, psychotic genius with matricidal tendencies to a gay cross-dresser. He no longer tries to kill Lois, and pretty much of all of the jokes about him stem from being gay. This was extrapolated from a single joke in Season Two’s Fifteen Minutes Of Shame to become the foundation of his entire character despite the fact that he’d always shown sexual and romantic interest solely in women. Though, admittedly, his technological ability is the basis of several more recent episodes such as Road To Germany and The Big Bang Theory.
Meg Griffin was originally a generic teenage girl but is now consigned to the background, only being brought out to be subjected to extreme abuse by the other characters, or (exceptionally rarely) to have her own storyline. Which is rather ironic given that her voice actress Mila Kunis is now arguably the most famous actress of the main cast.
Initially, teenage son Chris was pretty much an idiot with an artistic streak who craved his father’s approval. He’s probably the only main character to have changed in a positive way since the show’s revival. His intelligence tends to increase and decrease as required by each episode but he’s noticeably more articulate and thoughtful than in the show’s early seasons.
This article was first posted on September 14, 2012