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25 March 2009 @ 03:15 pm
Television: "Family Guy"  
Based on my viewing preferences, which tend to skew toward much older comedy and drama programmes, I'm not the audience that Fox, Seth MacFarlane and Family Guy are trying to attract.

I've never liked The Simpsons, but have always enjoyed Matt Groening's "Life in Hell" and "Akbar & Jeff" comic strips in the Village Voice. The transition to television seemed to suck the life from the former, which had always been a rather accurate depiction of childhood as viewed through a dystopic lens. Futurama is a take-it-or-leave-it affair, mostly the latter. What little I knew of Family Guy, made me think not of The Simpsons, which fans and critics alike claim, but a little-known prime-time cartoon called Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which Family Guy resembles at least based on cartoon art.

However, what has bothered me most over the few episodes I've now seen is the rampant misogyny that seems to pervade every episode. Women are evil. Women are bitches. Women are disposable sex toys. Genius, mutant baby plots every episode to murder his mother, and we're treated to an unending stream of his fantasies.

It's from Fox, so it should be a matter of course that misogyny, racism and homophobia should be played for humour. But this goes beyond even the "Hey, see how cool we are, we're all edgy and anti-PC" vein that permeates what passes for comedy today. It's something else. Something so vile that after viewing last night's episode on TBS, I came away wanting a shower and wishing I could unsee and forget what 22-minutes of garish colours and loud voice work hammered into my brain.*

There's something brutal and ugly within Family Guy: that same something that derives pleasure and satisfaction from inflicting emotional, psychological and physical pain. Sadly, maybe that's exactly why it's so popular.

*Yes, I'm a firm believer in using the power of the remote and the on/off switch. But last night, I wasn't in a situation where I could do that: pizza party and everyone else seemed to enjoy the show.