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Family Guy: 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.

Family Guy.

This column has often 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:”    

  • A 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."

Brian: "Okay."

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 do?"

          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 filthy."

           Brian: "Yeah, she's been a bad girl."

           Stewie: "And then I'm going to gag her with her own brassiere." Brian laughs.

           Stewie: "What?"

           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 riding crop?"

           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)

 

  • Peter: “Everyone, some of the milk in the fridge is not milk.  It's horse sperm.” 

Stewie deliberately lifts a spoonful of cereal to his mouth and chews it slowly. 

(March 8, 2009)

 

  • The family dog, Brian, talks with his (human) date Tracy.

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)

 

  • The Family Guy characters sing a song glorifying marijuana use.

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. 

 


TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff.


 

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