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TV’s "Best Comedy”?
BY CHRISTOPHER GILDEMEISTER
Since 1949, the
Academy of Television Arts
& Sciences has recognized excellence in American television programming; and
since 1952, the Academy has awarded an Emmy every year for “Outstanding Comedy
Series.” Recipients of this award have encompassed the giants of
twentieth-century television comedy: I Love Lucy, Red Skelton, Phil
Silvers, Jack Benny, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show,
M*A*S*H, All in the Family, Cheers, The Cosby Show, Seinfeld and Frasier
have all been granted the award. Even the many other programs which did not
receive the award, but were only nominated for Best Comedy, comprise an honor
roll of American television, with George Burns and Gracie Allen, Sid Caesar,
Our Miss Brooks, The Andy Griffith Show, That Was The Week That Was, The Odd
Couple, and The Bob Newhart Show, among the programs considered
worthy by the actors, producers, directors, artists, technicians and executives
who make up the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. And now, those
individuals have added a new program to the list of shows worthy of being
considered one of television’s Outstanding Comedy Series.
This column has
detailed the execrable excesses of this electronic effluvium. It is
disappointing that the Fox network has so frequently violated community
standards, common decency and simple good taste by airing this program (and its
allied animated atrocity American Dad). It is ridiculous that Fox pays
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane $100 million a year for the
privilege of forcing his offensive brand of humor into America's homes. But the entertainment industry’s representatives slide from
inanity into insanity in considering Family Guy worthy of inclusion among so
many other, truly deserving, classics of comedy.
This is not the first sign of the Academy’s
declining standards. For the last several years, CBS’ sex-soaked sitcom Two
and a Half Men has been nominated, and this year it was joined by Showtime’s
Weeds, which centers on a single mother who grows and sells marijuana.
But Family Guy‘s nomination is unusually odious, for several reasons.
Firstly, there is the fact that it has received such a nod, when other animated
programs – most notably The Simpsons, which just celebrated its 20th
year on television – never have. Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and the many
other creative and talented individuals who have contributed to the
iconic cartoon, would be justified in feeling outraged at seeing the
far inferior Family Guy honored before them.
Secondly, there is the matter of Family Guy‘s
timeslot. While the merits of the program are debatable, Family Guy does
have a large number of adult fans. Were the program carried on a premium cable
network or available on a pay-per-view basis, the show would pose less concern.
But because Fox insists on showing the program during prime time on the
publicly-owned broadcast airwaves – at 9:30 p.m. Sundays, only 8:30 in the
Central and Mountain time zones – millions of children are exposed to the show’s
extremely adult content.
But of greatest concern is that content itself.
Lest anyone have forgotten (or never have known), here is a small sample of what
the Academy now considers “Outstanding Comedy:”
baby being tortured on a rack by his mother, who, dressed as a dominatrix, puts out a
cigarette on her infant’s chest, while the baby exclaims, “Beat the crap out
of me! Step on my cubes! Slap me across the face like a bitch!...Violate me
with a wine bottle!” (February 12, 2007)
Teenager Meg gets a job as a phone sex operator, where she is patronized by
her own father. Meanwhile, a woman has sex with the family dog – after which
Baby Stewie begs the dog to have sex with him, too. (September 30, 2007)
Peter’s mother goes to Mexico for an abortion. She is strung up by a rope, and
children beat her stomach with piñata sticks. Peter falls out of his mother’s
uterus alive and dangles by the umbilical cord. (November 18, 2007)
Baby Stewie and Brian discuss Stewie’s plans to torture his mother.
Stewie: "I'll teach that hussy to go on a boat
ride without me. When she returns I'm going to put bamboo splinters under all
her fingernails. And I'm going to strip her down and tie her to the bed."
Stewie: "Then I'm going to make her crawl on her
hands and knees while I drip hot candle wax all over her back."
Brian: "And then what are you going to
Stewie: "Let's see..."
Brian: "Are you going to shower
her off after all of that candle wax?"
Stewie: "No. I'm going to keep her
Brian: "Yeah, she's been a bad girl."
Stewie: "And then I'm going to gag her
with her own brassiere." Brian laughs.
Brian: "No, nothing. That's all part
of your diabolical plan to humiliate her."
Stewie: "Yes, yes! She'll be humiliated."
Brian: "Maybe you'll handcuff her.
She'll hate that."
Stewie: "Then I shall do that, as well."
Brian: "And call her a bitch?"
Stewie: "Until I'm hoarse with rage."
Brian: "Maybe smack her ass with a
Stewie: " Yes, and then…What?"
Brian: "That would show her."
Stewie: "You're getting some kind of sick
sexual thrill off this, aren't you?"
(November 4, 2007)
Stewie deliberately lifts a spoonful
of cereal to his mouth and chews it slowly.
(March 8, 2009)
Tracy: “In high school I was violated
sexually by my father. It happened on numerous occasions and I was too afraid to
tell anyone, because I felt like it was my fault.”
Brian: “So... you DO go all the way!”
(April 27, 2008)
Ensemble: “When Texas people wanna feel good”
Stewie: “They go assault a queer.”
Ensemble: “When stupid people need a thrill,”
Stewie: “They rent The Rocketeer.”
Ensemble: “When Michael Jackson needs a rush,”
Stewie: “He humps a guy like me.”
All: “But all we need is a bag of weed,
To keep us worry free.
One, Two, Three, HO!
A Bag of Weed, A Bag of Weed
Oh, everything is better with A Bag of Weed
Oh, you don't need meth and you don't need speed…
All you need is A Bag of Weed!”
(April 19, 2009)
This is what the representatives of the entertainment industry now
consider an “Outstanding Comedy Series” –
a program showing babies being tortured, eating sperm and plotting their
mother’s murder. Not to mention the show’s tired reliance on non-sequitur
pop-culture jokes; the ridicule it displays toward religion, race, and those
with disabilities; its endless gags involving vomit, excrement and
flatulence…and much other content too numerous (and disgusting) to list here. It
is to be hoped that, in making this nomination, both Family Guy and the
Academy receive only the contempt both have so richly earned.
This column was compiled from reports by the Parents
Television Council’s Analysis staff.