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Fox’s Foul Family Hour

By Christopher Gildemeister


Every night, ten million children on average watch television during the first hour of prime time (8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7:00-8:00 p.m. Central and Mountain time). None of the broadcast networks consistently respect this Family Hour; but few display the brazen disregard for young viewers shown this past week by Fox.  


On the November 5th two-hour episode of the network’s horrendously brutal drama Prison Break, Fox treated children in the viewing audience to gory violence and disturbing themes and imagery. For starters, the abusive Bellick demands of a fellow prisoner:


Bellick: "I gave you food yesterday. I gave you a place to sleep. You wonder why? What the hell's your problem?"


prisoner: "Look, I just don't want to have sex with you, OK? Is that so hard to believe?"


But exposing young viewers to the nuances of prison intimacy was only the beginning. The episode went on to show the luckless prisoner’s bloodied, lifeless corpse being carried about by other prisoners, blood graphically dripping down his chest. And later in the episode, crime boss Lechero (who runs the prison) brutally murders yet another inmate. Thrown to the floor by Lechero, the inmate lands on his hands and knees. Lechero grabs the man by the hair and yanks his head back, then savagely cuts his throat, causing blood to spurt out.  To send a message to the other prisoners, Lechero has the dead man’s corpse strung up by the wrists for all to see in the prison’s courtyard. Blood gorily drips from the dead man’s hand and slashed throat.


Disgusting and graphic as this violence is, the episode contained another scene perhaps even more frightening to children. Lead character Lincoln’s son LJ has been kidnapped and held prisoner by the mysterious Susan, in order to compel Lincoln’s cooperation. Enraged that Lincoln has not obeyed her, Susan plans to murder LJ. Before LJ’s eyes, Susan spreads a plastic tarp around his chair, planning for it to catch his blood. Susan then pulls out a large knife, bottled chemicals and some duct tape, and says menacingly:


Susan: "Once I cut the spinal cord and sever the nerve endings, you won't  feel a thing."


A terrified LJ begs, "No! Please, NO!” but Susan nevertheless prepares to kill the boy, placing her knife to his throat. LJ’s murder is prevented only because Lincoln happens to phone Susan at that exact moment.


That children watching TV at 8:00 p.m. should be exposed to bloody, murderous violence is bad enough; but how many went to bed with visions of a boy near their own age being threatened with murder still in their heads? How many nightmares did children have as a result? And how many are learning from television every single day that the world is a dark, terrifying place where adults are waiting to torture and kill them?


The violence on Prison Break is terrifying, brutal and realistic, and has no place in the Family Hour, yet at least that program is honest about what it is: a darkly intense drama intended for adults. What then can be said about an even more depraved program which, because its graphic violence and gratuitous sex are animated instead of live-action, pretends to be light-hearted, fun-filled family entertainment?  


Yet this is precisely what was shown Family Hour viewers on the night of Sunday, November 4th.  Fox usually has the good sense to confine the fetid Family Guy to the post-9:00 p.m. hour, but this week the network made an exception. To the joy of its fans (and the horror of parents), Fox “celebrated” the 100th episode of Family Guy by airing a special version of the program at 8:30 p.m. ET. This half-hour retrospective, compiling creator Seth MacFarlane’s favorite moments, highlighted the properties which have made the program a monument to depravity.


In the course of the half-hour special, Fox treated America’s children to all manner of violence, kinky sex and other revolting behavior. The following is just a sample of what pre-teens saw displayed in Fox’s version of the Family Hour:

  • Peter hits his daughter Meg with a baseball bat.

  • Lois is shown sitting in a car smoking a cigarette, then putting it out on her wrist.

Lois: "Oh my God, that was such a rush! Yeah! I'm alive!"


Peter rocks Baby Stewie to sleep. He undoes his shirt and Stewie

nurses at his father’s breast. He is almost asleep. Stewie wakes up and realizes something is not right. He pulls a hair out of his mouth and realizes he is sucking his father's nipple. Stewie gags.


·        Peter and Lois are shown wearing bondage gear as they prepare to have sex.


·        Stewie punches the bloodied dog Brian repeatedly.


·        Peter vomits on the floor. Brian then vomits. Chris vomits.


Stewie continues to vomit. Stewie and Peter vomit some more. Chris and Brian continue to vomit. Brian throws up again. Stewie also upchucks again. Peter throws up on Brian. All of them lie covered in vomit. They had all decided to drink ipecac to see who could go longest without vomiting.


  • Peter and a barbershop quartet sing about having AIDS to a hospitalized man.  


  • Peter attends a job interview.


Interviewer: "So Peter, where do you see yourself in five years?"


Peter: (to himself):  "Don't say 'doing your wife'. Don't say 'doing your wife.'”  (to the interviewer): “Doing your son."


The program proudly tops off this parade of perversity with a rapid montage so crude that it would cause the attendees of a drunken fraternity party to cringe in embarrassment.  The sequence shows Stewie, Peter and Brian wearing lingerie;  Stewie riding on Brian and hitting him with a paddle, both wearing bondage gear;  Brian and Stewie wearing safety masks and lighting Peter's flatulence on fire as he stands on a stool with his pants around his ankles; Peter naked at a dinner table with a blow-up sex doll; Justin Timberlake pulling part of Peter's costume off to reveal a nipple and a nipple ring, à la Janet Jackson; Peter sucking a popsicle suggestively; Peter, Brian and Stewie having a pillow fight while wearing women’s nightgowns; and the sequence goes on and on and on in a similar vein.


The episode concluded with Seth MacFarlane himself gloating, "We hope you've enjoyed this look back at the first one hundred episodes of Family Guy. Here's to the next 100. And hopefully we won't get cancelled for two and a half [bleeped f*******] years in the middle again.”


If only America could be so lucky. By placing his pubescent pablum in an animated program, Seth MacFarlane is cynically luring children into his twisted universe of crude humor, violence, kinky sex and disgusting behavior. And by airing Family Guy during the Family Hour, Fox exposed millions of children to MacFarlane’s warped worldview.


TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff: Aubree Bowling, Caroline Schulenburg, Josh Shirlen, Keith White, and Adam Shuler, under the direction of Dr. John Rattliff.

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