Seth MacFarlane Says Ted and Peter Griffin Allow Him to Push Whatever Boundaries He Wants
Look at the big man hiding behind the teddy bear! Seth MacFarlane probably wouldn’t mind if you teased him about his cuddly comedy bodyguard. In a conversation with Collider, MacFarlane admits that his make-believe characters like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin and toy bear Ted (soon to return in a new coming-of-age series) allow him to get away with outrageous gags that might cancel an ordinary human.
Buckle up, snowflakes, because MacFarlane knows Peter and Ted give him license to push comedy boundaries. “Where I have a little bit more of a safety net is that if you're a stand-up comic or if you are somebody who is the face of their show every week, then if you screw up, and if you have a joke that goes too far for people, you're gonna be the one who gets attacked,” MacFarlane says. “With Family Guy and with Ted, first of all, these are animated characters — Ted does not exist, Peter Griffin doesn't exist. You can't tweet at him.”
For extra protection, MacFarlane finds safety in numbers. Today’s viewers “are smart enough to know it's a lot of people that have to get together and decide what goes on the air,” he says. “Television is very much a group effort, and people are savvy at this point. They know that. And so, for me, it kind of protects me in a way that maybe gives me a little bit of an unfair advantage, because these are animated characters.”
With his new Ted series, MacFarlane is looking to bring back the offensive — or at least right up to the edge of offensive. “There's an absence of flat-out hard comedy these days, a comedy that's just out to get laughs, that's out to explore the boundaries of the genre and see if there's an edge that takes it too far,” he says. “It's kind of fun to find where that edge is and make sure you don't go past it, but to go right up to the rim.”
Does your average viewer even get that offended by shocking punchlines? MacFarlane says no, wagering that the most outraged people are amplified by sites looking for clickbait. “I don't think the actual audiences are quite as representative of that kind of noise as we might be led to believe,” he says.
As much as MacFarlane hopes to push boundaries with his new Ted series, there’s not much in comedy that makes his blood boil. “I don't get mad when I see things that cross the line in fiction,” he says. “When I read the news, and I see anything with the phrase ‘Texas Supreme Court,’ then I get pissed. Then I get angry. There's nothing that I can think of for me in this show that goes over the line comedically.”