Family Guy’ regains its satirical credentials

For those of you who have been living under a rock, please take note that “Family Guy” is quite simply the greatest show on television.

More specifically, “Family Guy” is an animated series created by the infamous Seth MacFarlane. Any given Sunday at 9 p.m., the Fox network’s hit show portrays the titular patriarch Peter Griffin, his lovable stupidity, the dysfunctional nature of his “typical American” family and the antics of his unorthodox friends.

After its first broadcast following Super Bowl XXXIII (1999), the entire nation, or at least the majority of its adult males, discovered “Family Guy’s” unique blend of blue and black comedy that toyed with perceptions of otherwise serious aspects of culture.

Though “Family Guy” enjoyed stellar reviews for its first few seasons, critics began to focus on the show’s inclusion of supposedly distasteful and crude humor, which sent the animated series on a downhill trend for years. It is only recently that “Family Guy” has rebounded, airing brilliant, superbly written episodes.

Lovers and haters of “Family Guy” alike can agree that the series abuses the types of comedy that it utilizes. First, consider its use of blue comedy, which can be defined as a type of comedy that is off−color and obscene. Episodes are often filled with references to sex and profanity; scenes regularly refer to porn, prostitutes, sex, statutory rape and genitalia. Though a small portion of viewers might find these allusions hilarious, others may view the show’s use of them as cheap and offensive for the sake of being offensive.

The show also exploits black comedy, satire focused on topics and events that are usually regarded as off−limits to comedic sitcoms. “Family Guy” often ignores this taboo status and treats relevant matters in an unusually humorous or satirical manner while actually retaining their seriousness.

Many viewers and television critics purport that “Family Guy” has become mediocre due to its dependency on crude humor. Recent episodes refute this claim by displaying sophisticated and appropriately high−brow humor.

This season’s premiere is the epitome of such an episode. It begins with a brilliantly nostalgic reference to 1980s Hollywood introductions, complete with corny classical music, absurdly long credits and outdated camera angles. The artists even use the parody as an opportunity to display their impressive new animation technology.

The writers go on to present an episode that exemplifies the show’s strengths by involving all the important characters, showing off the range of the voice actors and creating a smooth storyline.

The first third of this hour−long premiere is a bit slow because it takes time to set up the main storyline: an intriguing murder mystery fashioned after an Agatha Christie novel.

The plot unfolds when a mysterious person sends the entire town of Quahog, or at least many of the people we have seen in the past nine years, to a weekend stay at a creepy mansion. As soon as the guests arrive, people start dying one by one, and the goal of the episode becomes to find the murderer before they all become victims.

The second half is a skillfully directed sequence of events that puts the show on par with other successful comedic sitcoms such as “The Office,” “The Simpsons” and “30 Rock.”

The episode as a whole is thoughtful, suspenseful and devoid of crude, “tasteless” comedy. It proves that the foundational humor behind “Family Guy” is not dependent on lines containing endless obscenities and profanities.

MacFarlane does not forget to remind us that, contrary to popular belief, he is actually capable of producing admirable scripts.


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