While in college, I had better things to do than watch television. And by things, I mean good looking guys that I met at bars. Like most youth growing up in purgatory, also known as the suburbs of a rust belt city in northeast America in the 1990's, my days were filled with school, sports practice, and extracurricular activities. Once home and exhausted, I would veg out in front of the televisions for a few hours. While my loyalty should be to The Simpsons, I have realized over the years that Family Guy is one of the smartest shows on television and that Seth MacFarlane is one cool dude.
1. Political & Social Satire. First off, this isn't a fucking thesis paper, so a lot of my references will be from episodes I don't know the names of, when they aired, or any other useful information. I'm a great writer, right? Anyways, the overall satire and irony of the show is amazing. In one episode, the children end up being biracial and Stewie proclaims something along to lines of, "Oh goody. I'm half black and half white, so everyone will accept me when I grow up!" A lot of the reasons why this show is so intelligent is because, sadly, it depicts American culture - particularity the idiosyncrasies and passive aggressive mannerisms of the North - in a comedic manner; you laugh, feel bad for laughing, then think about why you laughed and then explore the political or social undertones of the joke, which are typically spot on and leads one to wonder what the fuck is wrong with America, or sometimes, why America is a great place to live.
2. The Gay Rights Movement & Activism. Family Guy often gets a bad reputation from gay rights and feminist groups for their portrayal of gay individuals and women. Oftentimes, these characters are "normal," probably the most level headed on the show, and it's the reactions of other heterosexual or male characters that get people fuming. In one episode, there is a debate and Peter looks over at his wife, Lois, and says he is surprised that she is contributing to the conversion because the kitchen still needs to be cleaned. Should we, as Americans, be mad at the writers on the show for this innocent scene, or are we mad because women are still treated this way to an extent?
Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and the voice of many of the characters, appears to be one of the most progressive and grounded men in Hollywood. He is an atheist, but has no problem with religion. A recurring theme on the show involves horrific events, such as war, the Holocaust, and the aftermath of September 11, 2001; while in Boston, he was supposed to be on the American Airlines Flight 11, the plane that ultimately crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
In an interview, MacFarlane said, "The only reason it hasn't really affected me as it maybe could have is I didn't really know that I was in any danger until after it was over, so I never had that panic moment. After the fact, it was sobering, but people have a lot of close calls; you're crossing the street and you almost get hit by a car... this one just happened to be related to something massive. I really can't let it affect me because I'm a comedy writer. I have to put that in the back of my head."
In regard to the gay rights movement, he is an active supporter of LGBT individuals, and gay innuendo or a gag is typically in every episode; many assume the baby, Stewie, is homosexual. Passionate about gay rights, he has said that it is "infuriating and idiotic" that two gay men "have to go through this fucking dog and pony act when they stop at a hotel and the guy behind the counter says, 'You want one room or two?' I'm incredibly passionate about my support for the gay community and what they're dealing with at this current point in time."
He went on to say, "Why is it that Johnny Spaghetti Stain in fucking Georgia can knock a woman up, legally be married to her, and then beat the shit out of her, but these two intelligent, sophisticated writers who have been together for 20 years can't get married?"