Hopefully Seth MacFarlane will get a clue...hehehehehehe...clue...
It was a very late summer's night. I was relaxing in my room, enjoying the benefits of being free from school for a good three months. Although the real question was how to preoccupy myself for the night: summer reading meant certain slumber, all the video games I owned at the time were beaten, which left no other choice but to channel surf. As I switched over to one of cable television's greatest nighttime programs, [adult swim], they announced the premiere of Family Guy at 11:30pm. I checked my watch and noticed the time was 11:20pm. Being of sound person with nothing better to do, I decided to stay tuned to see whether [adult swim] had found something good, or another overrated show that shouldn't be on air (example: Aqua Teen Hunger Force). It turns out that [adult swim] had struck gold. After seeing a couple of episodes of Family Guy, I distinctly remember wiping away tears of laughter, and saying to my TV, "Where have you been all my life?" By now you should already know the rest of the story: Family Guy DVD sales went off the chart; FOX realized they wanted more money and gave Seth MacFarlane another chance with Family Guy. At first, it was like a dream come true, but like being in a relationship with a crazy person, eventually the fun stops and you're one night away from making a run for it. Let's look at the examples:
I didn't know it at the time, but reflecting on it, this was the first red flag symptomatic of Family Guy going downhill. For those of you who are not major fans, James Woods had two guest appearances on the show; James Woods being the lead actor in the television series Shark and of course lending his voice to the delightful character Hades in Disney's Hercules. In his first guest appearance, James Woods replaces Brian as Peter's BFF, and then becomes crazy jealous when Peter and Brian make amends. So what do Peter and Brian do?
Funny and clever, bravo Family Guy! Bravo! This episode was so funny that they had to get James Woods back again. This time, James Woods steals Peter Griffin's identity, which allows Peter to pretend to be James Woods and ruin his acting career. It looks like this time Peter and James are going to go at each other; possibly another epic battle, or maybe a beneficial resolve? Let's watch...
What...what the hell...you're kidding me right? It's not that it's unoriginal it's just that--no wait, it's dreadfully unoriginal. This is one of those moments that question my intelligence as a human being, because I know (as many fans do) that Family Guy is better than this. I could picture it now, the writers sitting around Seth McFarlane, they finish reading the script and a lone voice says, "Wait a minute, we already did this in a previous episode, we need to have something fresh." At which point Seth MacFarlane stands up, ponders for a moment, grabs a pen, and jams it into the writer's eye. If you don't consider this James Woods ending lazy, then check out this next example.
One of the reasons I fell in love for Family Guy was the cutaways and random humor. I even enjoyed a couple of episodes on the first three seasons in which they went to live action. Recently, one of their gimmicks was having a cast members introduce the television audience to Mr. Conway Twitty. First time it happened, I reacted with a simple, "What?!" And then I laughed it off because I knew it was Family Guy. Of course someone thought this was so hysterical that it should become a running gag (and whoever you are I have a baseball bat with your name on it) because it appeared in a couple more episodes. By the time the joke had worn out, Family Guy gave us this:
By the end of this "gag," I was literally resting my head in my hand and saying out loud, "That's it?" This is the correspondent of me asking Seth MacFarlane in person to say something funny, and instead he pulls down his pants and drawers and takes a dump in front of me. No Seth, that's not God pooh, that's pure crap. You'd think with Family Guy getting more popular and money they could afford to hire more writers, who, oh I don't know, could come up with something far more creative than this? This Family Guy experience is like a scientologist trying to convert you to scientology: the first time it's hilarious because you know scientology is a cult that solely wants your money. By the third or fourth attempt, you're ready to pull out a double barrel shotgun and plug them once and for all (despite there being any to no witnesses.)
Everybody who is a fan of Family Guy knows Meg Griffin. Back in the first three seasons, Meg was a normal insecure teenage girl who was trying to find her place in the social realm of high school as well as disassociate herself with guys of the nerd kind. Meg's problem ranged from having her dad pose as a high schooler to joining a cult of suicidal teenagers. In essence, Meg Griffin was a fully developed character who had a major role in every other episode. Currently, Meg Griffin doesn't have any major roles, or is treated like a secondary character; she's become a background character who stands there and is limited to one line an episode. In essence, Meg Griffin has become an overused gag: whether it's someone insulting her or farting in her general vicinity.
What happened to Meg's character you wonder? Here's my speculation: Mila Kunis lends her voice to Meg.
At the time, Mila only had Family Guy and That 70's Show going for her. Recently though, Ms. Kunis has been offered more opportunities in terms of film and television shows. Mila realizes her schedule is overbooked so she decides to consult with Seth MacFarlane about minimizing her role but still being part of the cast. Seth, in his passive-aggressive wisdom, decides to turn Meg's character into something bland as punishment for Mila having more important things to do than being a voice actor.
When I was first introduced to Stewie, I became aware of the evil aura that surrounded him, in addition his intelligence is far more superior than any other toddler. Needless to say, I liked him, he's funny. I always pictured him growing up to be an evil version of Sean Connery. Well as Family Guy produced more episodes, it was inevitable that the lead characters would show more dynamics. Lately, Stewie's dynamics have been pretty much, well, gay. Behold!
Now before you get all gay activist and form an angry mob to burn me at the stake, here me out: it's not so much I'm offended that Stewie's characteristics have gotten gay, but a character can't turn gay over night (or in this case over season.) It's like Seth MacFarlane is trying to pull a J.K. Rowling:
Seth: You know, I always pictured Stewie Griffin as a gay character...
If you have a character that is straight or gay, they need to be flat out straight or gay. Look at Neil Patrick Harris: he's gay but he plays the most straight, masculine guy I've ever seen on TV. A stretch for Mr. Harris but God does he make it consistent. Why can't Stewie be gay? Glad you asked, because if you remember Family Guy's Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, there's a hilarious scene in which Stewie forces his future self to have sex with one of his female coworkers. If not, look back at the first couple seasons in which Stewie serenade's a girl with, "You Make Me Feel So Young," or even this awesome scene:
When it comes to sending a message or just being preachy, I believe that both sides of the coin should be presented instead of one. That was the beauty of the first couple of seasons of Family Guy, it was completely comedic and it's moral at the end of every episode was very universal. It wasn't until Family Guy got back on the air that it began to take a turn for the left. Unlike The Simpsons, in which Matt Groening pokes fun at Republicans but knows when to quit, Family Guy beats you over the head with its political messages and jokes to the point where you feel like saying, "I get it, all conservatives are stupid, could you please be funny again?" I feel like Family Guy has become that professor at college. You know, that professor, the one who speaks his or her mind about everything except the subject of the course, and if you say anything else that differs from their views you'd be lucky enough to end up with a B-. Who could forget the Star Trek: Generations episode. Instead of focusing on Stewie and his shenanigans with the cast of Star Trek (like FOX advertised about), the episode focused about all the wonders of being an atheist.
Too bad Family Guy forgot to address how atheists are the least trusted people in the world. It's like watching a cartoon version of Michael Moore: you're only going to receive a one-sided perspective/message without any logical argument to back it up. All I ask is if Family Guy wants to do politics or even some preaching, then take note from Scrubs (not the new series). In Scrubs, they handled the topic of the Iraq War so well that even I wanted to give Bill Callahan and Emmy myself. Of course Hollywood wouldn't recognize the episode because it doesn't follow their own agenda. So please Family Guy staff, do yourselves a favor and remember what made you what you are today--your loyal fans.