Monday, August 3, 2009

Popular Things I Hate: Family Guy (Part One of a 5,000 Part Series)

A cursory glance at my "favorite TV shows" section of my profile will reveal a potentially shocking omission: Family Guy is conspicuously absent from the list, making me possibly the only college aged male who doesn't list it. Is that a mistake? Was I in a hurry and just forgot to mention Family Guy? Did I just figure that a 19 year old male liking Family Guy was assumed and feel it was unnecessary to even bother listing it? Nope. It was no accident. Believe it or not, I actually hate Family Guy.

In fact, hate may be a severe understatement. I do not just hate Family Guy -- I loathe it with every fiber of my being. While things like getting good grades and making friends don't really elicit strong emotions from me, just thinking about Family Guy makes me incredibly angry. If the punishment for getting a C in high school was being forced to sit through every episode of Family Guy, it's possible that I would be at Harvard right now.

But what exactly is my problem with Family Guy? Well, there are so many that I could probably get at least a week's worth of entries out of it. But let's start with the obvious: Family Guy is a sad, pathetic ripoff of The Simpsons. Peter Griffin basically is Homer Simpson, except much less funny. Even the Family Guy style of humor involving frequent flashbacks is completely stolen from early Simpsons episodes.

Unfortunately, Family Guy isn't even able to be a good Simpsons knock-off. The things that make The Simpsons great like satire and character depth are noticably absent, instead being replaced by a barrage of sophomoric humor aimed at the ADD generation. While an ending of a Simpsons episode could make you laugh and cry at the same time, the end of a typical Family Guy episode usually makes you wonder if network TV can possibly go any lower. While Homer Simpson is mostly a likable goof, Peter Griffin is a hateful, one dimensional slob. While The Simpsons aims high and usually has intelligent social commentary, Family Guy has a talking dog and an evil baby. To be blunt, Family Guy is The Simpsons for people that are too stupid to get The Simpsons.

There is also nothing more pathetic than when Family Guy attempts a "controversial" episode. Any TV show that goes out of its way to try be controversial is almost guaranteed to be terrible. Shows like The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and South Park were able to be controversial and tackle taboo issues, but it always felt organic. When Family Guy does it, it feels kind of like that teen soap opera that shows two girls kissing and acts like it's a huge deal -- when about 900 shows have done the same thing. Like most of the things on the show, Family Guy's attempts at controversy are not even remotely original or funny, and usually have the subtlety of a guy getting mauled by a rhinoceros.

After all this is when Family Guy supporters usually the bust out the "whatever, it's subjective and I find it funny" card. That's cool, but to be honest, this many people finding Family Guy funny makes me sincerely worry about the future of human civilization. There is absolutely no universe in which Family Guy is ever better than The Simpsons, or pretty much every other animated show ever made. When people say they prefer Family Guy to The Simpsons, it makes me question whether this is a person I can ever have a meaningful, constructive conversation with.

Quite frankly, the success of this show boggles my mind. I consider myself an intelligent person who can usually look at things objectively and see what appeals to people, but Family Guy has left me questioning everything. Perhaps I'm naive to think that people like stuff because it has artistic merit, and not because it has a lot of funny fat jokes and AIDS jokes. Maybe I'm the one who's wrong for thinking that people should seek out original shows that actually challenge the viewer instead of an unoriginal show that offers crass humor that is sure to be understood by anyone with an IQ over 50. Or maybe I'm the only sane person in this crazy world we live in.

Whatever. I'm going to go watch some Simpsons DVDs.

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