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.