Even when Fox’s Family Guy (Sundays, 9:00 p.m. ET) attempts to be
reasoned and thoughtful it still manages to offend. The June 12th
episode of a rerun that originally aired on February 13th was one of
those rare episodes that tried to make a point, but in the process only managed
to succeed in being named Worst TV Show of the Week.
In the episode, Peter and Brian are sentenced to mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous
meetings after they cause a drunken scene at a movie theater. During their first
meeting, however, they make their opinions of AA (and religion) very clear,
referencing AA’s spiritual bent. Brian states, “Hey, people got along just fine
for thousands of years without AA. Just like they got along for thousands of
years without religion. The scene quickly cuts to Biblical times where two men
Man: “I like you, and have no reason not to.”
Man 2: “I like you, and have no reason not to.”
A third man enters with news.
Man 3: “Hey, did you hear about that magic baby that was born in Bethlehem?”
All three men immediately start savagely stabbing each other to death.
Peter is convinced that he and Brian don’t have a drinking problem – everybody
else has a problem with their drinking. So they manage to convert their AA group
into a judgment-free “support group” for their drinking. Peter addresses the
group, “I sat here and listened to you bums the other day and I gotta tell ya,
I’ve never seen a duller bunch of pathetic bastards in my life. I don’t know who
you were when you were drinking, but it sure as hell’s gotta be better than who
you are when you’re sober.” The group proceeds to get sloshed.
Peter drives home drunk and crashes head-on into a tree. As his bloody, battered
body flies onto the hood of the car, the Grim Reaper comes to show what Peter’s
life would be like if he continues to drink. In one scene, Peter orders his
family to line up for cigar burns, and one-by-one he digs a lit cigar into their
arms. In the following scene, Peter sees himself in a bathroom stall with his
boss after they have just finished having sex.
Aghast, Peter tells the Grim Reaper that he wishes had never touched alcohol in
his life. But the Grim Reaper shows Peter that his life would have been
completely boring without booze. Peter proclaims, “This [version of Peter] is
even worse than the other one…What am I supposed to do? If I’m drunk I’m a jerk,
and if I’m sober, I’m a douche.” The Grim Reaper tells Peter that moderation is
the real lesson he needs to learn.
The show blithely glosses over the fact that alcoholism (as all forms of
addiction) is a disease. Moderation is a fine lesson to learn, but for many
addicts sustained treatment and total sobriety are the only ways to stay clean.
And, besides, couldn’t the show have made its point without offending Christians
or resorting to sex and violence?
For crude content, Family Guy has been named Worst TV Show of the
Parents Television Council,
Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The
nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting
children against sex, violence and profanity in
entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval,
and Family Guide to Prime Time Television
are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.