Monday, June 8, 2009

Skip Serpico Sez - Family Guy Sucks Balls

Last week while visiting Stately Fish & Spaghetti Manor, I had to endure yet another of Jay1's attempts to convince me that Family Guy is funny. It's like clockwork. Jay1's going to say "just peep this" and I'm going to shake my head, roll my eyes and try to go to my happy place.

To be fair, I used to like The Family Guy. When it debuted I was one of it's more ardent supporters. It took one of the aspects that I really enjoyed about The Simpsons, the random cutaways with no consequence to the plot, and made them an integral part of the show. It was funny. At first.

Eventually my interest in the show waned and then it was cancelled. And when it was picked up again, I thought "good for it, I'm glad."

But with it's return to the airwaves came a legion of fans declaring it the greatest show ever, which became annoying.

While you can't judge a book by it's cover, you can judge entertainment by the audience it caters to. You don't need to listen to an entire Souljaboy to understand that he's a rapper not an artist. I don't need to have seen Transformers to know that it's a movie, not a film. By the same token, I don't need to suffer though another episode to know that I don't like Family Guy.

My beef with the show is pretty simple; I think it's not only a testament to the decline of American television, but that it's contributing to the dumbing down of the culture.

Let's be real, the show aims low. It's not trying for smart humor. It targets pop culture items and generally easy targets. I don't have a problem with cheap shots, I enjoy Orange Oscar as much as anyone else, but it seems to me like cheap shots are veering dangerously close to crutch territory.

Now I'm sure that fans of the show will champion how it's "irreverent." I'd argue that more often than not the show is just tasteless. Chappelle's Show was irreverent. Chris Rock is irreverent. Hell, 30 Rock is irreverent. But non-sequiturs involving gross out gags and cheap shots are just crass and tasteless. It's almost as though the show is trying to single-handedly revive the notoriety that Fox had when the network debuted.

What really set me off is that Jay1 had me watch the Steven King episode and that bit with Joaquin Phoenix was just off. It was like 25% funny and 75% tasteless. Granted I found it off-putting on numerous levels, not the least of which was Richard "Mr. Civility" Dreyfus' involvement.

In terms of the dumbing down aspect, I think it's pretty much a worst-case scenario. Family Guy doesn't really aim high so those it influences won't either. Family Guy is really just The Simpsons without a Harvard education. Well the shows that Family Guy spawns will just be Family Guy with a community college education, or worse yet a G.E.D. What about a home schooled Family Guy?

Just like the Family Guy was inspired by The Simpsons, the next generation will be inspired by Family Guy and they're not going to see any problem with relying on non sequitur gags as opposed to filling an episode with, y'know, story. And as a writer I've got a problem with that.

I can accept that I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to entertainment. There's reason I prefer the Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards to the MTV Movie Awards; I like quality. And to me Family Guy isn't quality on any level.

Then again George Bush did get elected twice, so maybe the general public has a history of having their heads up their asses this millennium.


  1. I have a love-hate relationship with Family Guy. Last night, Peter killed Quagmire's cat. Stabbed it with a knife. Blood was all over him. It was gruesome. And it was Not Funny. It was just gross.

    However, I disagree with two points here.

    1. Souljah Boy is not an artist.
    Actually, he is. He's a genius. I don't like his music. But I have a great amount of respect for what HE is doing with HIS art. It's art. Period. Whether we like it or not. Andy Warhol painted soup cans that are worth millions. Was that art?

    2. As a writer, it's easy to dismiss non-sequiturs as juvenile. I know that we can say, oh please, I could write an episode of Family Guy. But could you? Really? I could not...

  2. i could write an episode of family guy. and i agree with aliya about soulja boys genius.

    anyway, yeah, i think that family guy is funny. and gross. and sometimes lame. and sometimes corny. whatever. it's not my FAVORITE show, but it's solid i think.

    skip talks about some of the low brow jokes, but how does family guy stack up against "it's always sunny in philidelphia"?

    a show that you campaign for all the time yet is FULL of the same tastless jokes as family guy to an extent. and I like "it's always sunny..." i'm just asking.

    all i'm saying is that you say family guy sucks, but you're really just (for some weird reason) annoyed by it's fan base. and thats almost 2 completely different things.

    thats like saying i hate blackberry's because people who use them are douche bags.

  3. In terms of Souljah Boy as an artist, I really don't see it. Is he a marketing genius? Perhaps. But that's not art. Trying to piggyback off the popularity of Youtube and capitalize on hooky dance craze singles does not equate to art in my book. For me, while art can be profitable, it's not created solely as a means for profit.

    As for writing an episode of Family Guy, I could probably throw one together. I'd have to watch a few eps to become familiar with what the show has become, but I'm pop culture savvy enough to write one. The thing is that I really wouldn't want to.

  4. I love Family Guy. I've loved it since the beginning, so of course it's fan base annoys me. I think all Family Guy veterans hate these newbs. I love Family Guy for it's utter randomness. If I didn't love it before, I loved it after the episode (which actually repeated last night) when Quagmire's cat was stolen. Yes, the episode was a bit gruesome but so is Saw 1-17, deboning raw chicken, and menstruating. Big deal. The part that did it for me was when Peter mentioned his excitement over the name of the movie being said IN the movie. I thought I was the only loser in the world who got excited over such things.

    Have you really even given the show a chance? you've pretty much made up your mind about the show so any episode you see is gonna suck in your eyes.

    The Stephen King episode wasn't exactly the best one to judge the show on.

    and Skip, you're my homie and all, but I'm gonna have to tell you to take your community college analogy and shove it up your ass. That was disgusting and insulting. I am appalled.

  5. I never thought id see the day when someone would admit that they dislike family guy. what is this world coming to???

  6. @Jay1
    Hey!!!!! I use a Blackberry!!!!!LOL

  7. Family Guy vs It's Always Sunny.

    Honestly it's comparing apples and meatloaf. This is ridiculous, but I'll take you on.

    First off, It's Always Sunny is unique in that every character is a low character. They're all equally despicable, which in itself is unique to the genre of sitcom. In a setting like that the low brow stuff par for the course; they're all equally base so how else would you expect them to act?

    Also it's both a satire of and a traditional sitcom. It's satirical in that it tweaks the sitcom conventions by devoting entire story lines to taboo topics and hot button issues. But it's also conventional in it's use of A & B stories and in the third act resolution where bad deeds are punished and comeuppance is received.

    It's Always Sunny also benefits from the physicality of actors and their performances given. It's the performances that really sell the comedy.

    I think that the fact the show is grounded in some level of reality also adds something. I both know people and am not that far removed from the characters at Paddy's.

    Also It's Always Sunny is on cable after a certain hour, when more risque material is acceptable.

    Don't get me wrong; Family Guy's fan base sucks, but the thing they're worshiping is flawed as well.

    I was also a fan of South Park, a show with an equally rabid fan base, when it started. While I don't watch it, I don't openly loathe is like I do Family Guy.

  8. @Frankie

    I'm really good with Family Guy, I don't need any more. It's like Scooby Doo or Thundercats; it was something that was dope when I was younger, but I guess I outgrew it. Or maybe I need to be high.

    I don't really do too many sitcoms and I'm pretty much done with cartoons. Right now I like stuff that aims high, like Breaking Bad, Damages and Mad Men. The disparity between any one of those three shows and Family Guy is staggering.

    The show is garbage to me. It's like that flick Dogma where it's vastly overrated as a product.

  9. This is an interesting read. Mainly because you differ completely from everyone I know that watches the show. I was a fan, but never a faithful.
    I dug what I saw (which was a lot of low brow humor) but it had its purpose.

  10. I have laughed out loud at several moments of Family Guy, but that was a long time ago and it's rarely funny twice.

    At the behest of my buddies who love the show, I watched it recently to give it another chance.

    As it turns out, it's pretty much just references now, no jokes. For example, the episode I saw had Peter talking about running his new business for a moment, and they cut away to a Dilbert cartoon. No joke, just a reference to Dilbert.

    People in groups tend to laugh when they see something they recognize, not necessarily because it's funny. It's the quintessential lazy writer's fallback from long ago.

    So, I agree. Family Guy Sucks Balls.

  11. "It took one of the aspects that I really enjoyed about The Simpsons, the random cutaways with no consequence to the plot."

    Yes, The Simpsons randomly cuts from the A or B storyline and goes off on a tangent that makes little sense, references something from pop culture, and is essentially filler. Oh wait, they don't do that, hence my respect for their writers and the show in general. (especially john schwartzwelder)



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