Friday, September 21, 2007

The Family Guy is terrible, and laziness is ruining comedy

I've said it before (and so has South Park, and so has probably The Simpsons, and I'm guessing other people who write about stuff they hate), but let's summarize:

1. In a comedy show, the majority of jokes ought to have at least some tangential relation to what is going on in the story. An occasional non-sequitur aside here and there can add an absurdist dimension to an already strong piece, but Family Guy writers just let their gag idea notepads shit into each and every script in order to bloat episodes to their full, required 23-minute lengths. It's boring and amateurish.

2. When something goes on too long, it goes on too long. Extending an out-of-nowhere awkward pause does not automatically equal humor. Family Guy didn't write the book on this sort of device in animation, but they highlighted every page of the book and consult it multiple times per tired, hackneyed episode.

3. Ditto unnecessary repetition to highlight/belabor a dumb gag.

4. Inserting a celebrity or stereotype (or reference to such) into a scene for no reason, then letting them do or say something for an extended period of time, not to propel the action along but rather derail it to highlight how silly said celebrity/stereotype is (or how silly the reference is)? Hack City USA. There's enough ADD going off with all the "that reminds me of the time when..." bullshit (see #1), but sometimes even when Family Guy manages to avoid cutting away from a scene, it still can't focus to save its goddamn life.

5. Somewhere around the fifteenth year of Saturday Night Live, television show parodies (either fabricated shows or spoofs of existing programing) became essentially the most creatively bankrupt, butt-lazy form of cheap-laugh comedy premise, especially when they are segued into via "some people are sitting on a couch watching television."

None of these points in particular are unpardonable offenses; when used sparingly and creatively as part of shows or movies or whatever that are grounded in things like strong writing, originality and a cohesive plot (yeah, remember those?), that's no problem. When you use them as the basic formula for a highly popular and long-running television series, when you run them into the ground until a nation of dim college students and uncreative stoners are programed to mistake an endless parade of disjointed pop culture references for legitimate humor, when you've done all you can to ruin modern comedy through your lazy hackery and Marmadukian formula-abuse (that's right, I went there)...

When you're a show that was fresh and original for precisely one season, devolved into self-parody after two, was canceled after three, then saw its DVD sales and rerun-fueled contract renewal as a mandate to make your empty, half-assed bullshit the gold standard and make an entire generation of misguided attention span-deprived MTV casualties nullify the value of content and rape Dada's corpse (I am looking at you, Adult Swim, and with some notable exceptions your programming is on extraordinarily thin ice)...

When you've made a boilerplate formula out of left-field randomness...

Jesus, I'm too defeated to even finish that thought.

(I will say that I find Lois kind of attractive... I find it's best not to think about it.)


Scott said...

For years I have been made to feel as if I am some sort of elitist dickhead every single time Seth McFarlane's abortions are brought up. Maybe I am an elitist. Maybe I am a dickhead. However, when it comes to this topic I now know I am not alone.

I will print this up and keep it in my wallet to share with others in lieu of spinning out into my raging little tornado of outrage next time someone asks if I've seen that Family Guy where such and such shit happened.

Alan said...

it's boring, but stewie and brian are redeeming, in that they are actually origional. Egomaniacle baby bent on world domination but preoccupied with the task of being an infant... alcoholic dog...

which is why the most watchable family guy was the movie they did, based on stewie's life, which actually had a plot.

but yes, the plotless quilt of gags that is many of their episodes... yawn. But I wouldn't condemn them utterly, man, have you seen the rest of television?

Adult swim usually just pisses me off.

South park, however, should not in any way be included in this discussion.

Mene Tekel said...

Thank you so much for explaining why this show sucks. This information is invaluable. I've never been able to put my finger on it.

topdownjimmy said...

THANK YOU. Particularly for: "nullify the value of content and rape Dada's corpse"

booktapes said...

I've noticed that Family Guy is only funny when I'm really, really tired. So maybe the writers of that show are just tired and aren't aware of how unfunny their show is. I realize that the content of Family Guy does not lend itself to this hypothesis, and that half the world telling explaining their show's unfinniness in detail to them might be a clue, but it could be that the writers are so beleaguered with meetings and corporate TV stuff that they have to throw their shows together as an afterthought, i.e. the homework we've all done at the last minute that was certainly not up to snuff but was at least "done." I don't really know what the day of a television writer looks like, but this seems likely to me, because every place of business I have ever worked at, (with the exception of Wendy's), cared more about meetings and hackneyed mottos about how we should care about our work than they did about the actual work. This all to say, perhaps we should just send the writers of Family Guy a bunch of thermoses full of warm milk, because they all just need to turn in for the day and finish their writing in the morning. I would suggest sending a bix box of sleeping pills, but this might give the wrong impresion to them that they should perform some kind of mass suicide or something. Maybe include a bunch of blankets and sets of pajamas so that the message is made very clear.

cb said...

so i first saw family guy late at night when i was drunkish. it was funny then (also i saw several episodes all about stewie and brian, both of whom i identify with in terrifying ways).

but - i just don't care.

you know what show REALLY sucks, though? that American Dad show, that looks just like the family guy, except without stewie and brian.

i don't watch the simpsons either. mainly because i am so fucking tired of everything in life being remarked upon as: "it's like in that Simpsons episode, when Homer does....."

Clav said...

The other day in Best Buy, I saw this guy who's dad had died about a year prior buying a Family Guy DVD set. After a moment of extreme internal struggle, I told him that it was OK. I mean, his dad died, you know? I forgive him, and even myself for this situation.

But it wasn't easy.

deckard said...

You hit the nail directly on the head here:

When you're a show that was fresh and original for precisely one season, devolved into self-parody after two, was canceled after three, then saw its DVD sales and rerun-fueled contract renewal as a mandate...

Sometimes I wonder if the show could have pulled itself out of its creative black hole if it had just stayed in danger of being cancelled for a few seasons (like Arrested Development... before it actually was cancelled). Maybe if it weren't for its own Christlike death and resurrection, the writers wouldn't have gotten so lazy. That's also what I tell myself to make myself feel better about Arrested Development not getting picked back up - if it had, it might have ended up being as bad as Family Guy. I shudder to think it.

Colinski said...

I knew an Armenian guy named Rasmik Marmadukian...

Cody said...

did you intend to write this on the same day that family guy completely disappears up its own asshole by doing a star wars... parody? tribute? I can't tell. But still, way to be timely.

Drew G said...

Word. Unfortunately, combined with Jackass and Adult Swim, the otts (00s) will be remembered as some sort of Dadaist non-sequitor culture, in which we questioned WHAT IT IS that comedy really is. OR is it all just a response to the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that we as mid-20ers feel in the face of an all-powerful, completely-corrupt government. And this random stonerish comedy is our only logical response to it all.

If it's the latter, then I'm all for Adult Swim & Jackass (never will I support Family Guy, though). But if we are simply a generation of non-attention-spanned assholes, (which I fear we are) then I really do fear how much shorter attention spans can get. Will future generations never stop and wonder what bark is made of?

In other news, we're the same age.

Mitch Meats said...

Damn straight. That show is garbage.

Tanya said...


I agree with printing this out as a convenient reference.

Also, agree with comment regarding. Stewie and Brian spin-off movie. That shit was funny.

Zac said...

I actually like Family Guy. It's not as good as South Park, but I still find it pretty damn funny. It has a different style of humor than South Park, but that doesn't make it wrong. That sort of out-of-left-field humor that has grown up around the internet generation is not a sure fire thing (for example, Sponge Bob sucks my ass), and to successfully execute it time and time again is worth something.

Now, like I said, I prefer the sort of well constructed satire South Park has delivered time and time again for ten years, but I still think Family Guy is pretty damn funny.

Eric said...

Seth McFarlane: "Hey, Simpsons got unexpectedly strong laughs from the 'dental plan/Lisa needs braces' and Sideshow Bob rake gags. How can I stretch that out into an entire show?"

If you look up the various pilot versions of Family Guy, you can see the depths of just how unfunny the show can get! I'm frankly surprised that the show got picked up from the last one, but not surprised at all that the various forms of "Hey, It's a Boorish Lout with a Talkin' Dog!" were rejected for the first, what, 6 or 7 years.

tashikitten said...

Finally, someone who doesn't like Family Guy. I thought I was alone. I just don't find it amusing, and Stewie gives me the creeps. Of course, I don't watch The Simpsons, Futurama, or South Park, so people think I'm a freak anyway.

Jay said...

See also: Talladega Nights. Anchorman. Blades of Glory.

For a while, I was worried that this is what all comedy would be replaced by. What made it especially troubling was the continual downward slide...Anchorman was tolerable, Talladega Nights was watchable when fucked up, and Blades of Glory was plain unexcusable. Worse was the thought that, aside from Anchorman - as I said, the best of this mini Axis of Evil - both came after the hilarious Old School and Wedding Crashers. I thought it was an ominous precursor of things to come.

Then, however, came 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad: three movies that reversed the trend, quite literally, with each being funnier than the last. Now, with "Walk Hard" on the horizon, featuring performers who were involved in each of the two trios...

(Jenna Fisher, bad [Blades of Glory], John C. Reilly, bad [Talladega Nights], David Koechner, bot, but meatier roles in bad [Anchorman, Talladega Nights, 40 Year Old Virgin cameo], Paul Rudd, both but more good [Anchorman, 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up], Chris Parnell, bad [Anchorman], written by Judd Apatow, 100% good [40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad )

...I can only hope the bad doesn't weigh down the good and sink Apatow's recently brilliant career resurgence. I can't tell if I'd rather have Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill in the movie, too, in hopes that they'd pick it up...or if I'd be too worried that they, too, would be tainted. I guess we shall see.

quietbob said...

I don't care for South Park's style of humor myself. I've given it plenty of chances, but something about it just grates on me. Ultimately, I've stopped watching. Guess what? Problem solved! I don't think about it anymore. And I certainly don't tell people that do enjoy it that it is the epitome of America's humor bankruptcy. I'm sorry you don't like something I enjoy, but nobody makes you watch it either, you know.

KayeOnToast said...

Stewie is funny? Was ever funny for longer than the 2 secs it took to figure out the stereotyped (and crappily done) faggy limey schtick? Bollocks. Brian is an occasional genius worthy of Swift; everything else about this turgid and imagination-dead waste of space is too depressing to further contemplate. I'm starting on the vodka already and its not even 9am

KayeOnToast said...

9am British Summer Time. Cheers. Oh yeah and that rip-off blogger wanker? Got well pwned did he not. Coincidence my royal arse.

GovernorGrayDavis said...

South Park also correctly pointed out, "at least Family Guy isn't all preachy and up its own ass."

The Mayor said...

Stewie is just Pinky and the Brain's Brain. Wide little head, small little body. World Domination. I hate this show. Seth McFarlane can eat my ass.

Nemurenai said...

oh, god, drew g's comment makes me flash back to aesthetics class.

"But you've got to ask yourself, did they even MEAN it to be funny? Perhaps this is a reference to the fact that their everyday lives had ceased to be funny, making them turn to pop culture references from the idyllic eighties and nineties. Perhaps they were simply disillusioned. Any thoughts? No? Well, that's okay..."

Calcium Glitter said...

Hmm, pretentious much?
Or maybe I've just sold-out, but I'm betting on the first.

Normally I'm a fan, I love your Marmaduke thing you do, I've been following it for a while; and I usually find you to be very witty and funny. But sometimes it seems to me that you try a bit too hard to be out of touch with Popular Culture. You know, you don't have to be a complete outcast..

And for the record, I'm not some die-hard fan of Family Guy either. It's just something I've noticed. Especially with your recent Marmaduke episode. I love your work, but maybe you should calm down and stop throwing diva fits? Just because everyone seems to suck up hardcore to you doesn't make you Jesus.

aaronthemad said...

I am totally with you on numbers 2 & 3, where something not funny goes on too long or is repeated over and over. I call those "punish the audience" gags. I remember there was a whole episode of SeaLab 2021 that was filled with one of these (#2212, according to wikipedia).

Maybe this, and the whole lack of story thing, is just writer laziness. Several of the Adult Swim shows started out strong in their first season (SeaLab, Birdman, Aqua Teen Hunger Force), but devolved into this ADD crap in later seasons. The Simpsons, also, has fallen away from cohesive stories into random collections of gag-driven events. "Family Guy" is one of the rare shows that started out that way. Though I have to admit, it has grown on me over time, perhaps because most of its random gags do strike me as pretty funny on their own. But still, it's like reading through a jokebook, as compared to, say, reading a book by P.G. Wodehouse or Douglas Adams, which balances humor and plot.

South Park's problem, on the other hand, is that they've gotten too moralizing. It seems like these days all of their episodes have strong political messages, and since they're I disagree with many of their political stances and they're so vitriolic, I can't just enjoy it for the humor anymore.

Dan said...

A good episode of Family Guy will still make me laugh. On the other hand, there's no such thing as a good episode of Robot Chicken, which should rightly be receiving this outcry instead.

lacochran said...

I just saw "Curtains" on Broadway and, even though David Hyde Pierce is the star, it's his former Frasier co-star, Edward Hibbert, who often steals the show. When I first started watching Family Guy, I was so sure it was Edward Hibbert doing the voice of Stewie that I was pretty smug when I checked on Imagine my surprise. Not Hibbert, just a Hibbert knock-off. You're right, there's no plot. I thought that was intentional on their part...? Anyway, I love your Marmaduke Explained stuff. Very funny.

Deven said...

Hey Great Blog. As much as Family guy used to rock in the first few seasons, it is getting down every season with same stale comedy and jokes. IMO Souht Park and SImpsons are also going down the hill.

Anyway for those who can not download Family guy from torrents and are looking for all Seasons of Family guy, they can download it from here -

Hope this helps others.

willson said...

i dunno why there are so much critic of the show family guy as i love to watch it.

情趣用品 said...



A片,色情,成人,做愛,情色文學,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,言情小說,愛情小說,AIO,AV片,A漫,av dvd,聊天室,自拍,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,色情A片,SEX





william said...





sex999 said...



uhfdf said...

熊貓情色,美女遊戲區,成人dvd,qq聊天室,aaa片免費看,手槍美女賞圖,家庭教師影片,洪爺情色,麗的色情遊戲,爽翻天成人情趣,qq聊天室,影音日誌,情色典獄長,520聊天室,080 中部人聊天室,成人文章,a片短片,成人貼圖區,免費av,杜蕾斯免費a片,柔情聊天網,豆豆聊天室,性感影片,台灣kiss情色,台灣自拍,都都成人站,小魔女自拍天堂,aaaa片,男男貼圖區,交友私樂園,麗的線上小遊戲,卡通a片,免費情色小說,性感影片,情色聊天室,成人貼圖區,免費av,xxx383美女寫真,正妹強力版,無碼女優,女同聊天室,性愛聊天室,飯島愛,美眉,臺灣情色網,100one百萬成人貼電影,正妹強力牆,bobo寫真女郎影片,av女優,383成人,情人視訊,

3d美女圖,小莉影音像館,情色武俠小說,色美眉部落格,台灣無限貼圖區,完美女人影音網,辣美眉173show影片,自拍a片,kiss情色,熊貓貼圖區列表,自拍貼圖,s383情色大網咖,85cc免費影城,a片圖片,寫真女郎攝影網,豆豆聊天,嘟嘟貼圖,美女自拍,自拍a片,hcg 貼圖區,卡通成人網,聊天室avooo,自拍偷拍,情色文學小說,情色交友,ut男同志聊天室,成人電影,正妹星球,無碼光碟,做愛自拍,爽翻天成人用品,歐美模特兒寫真,999成人性站,免費遊戲,成人動畫,aaaaa片俱樂部,免費線上成人影片,丁字褲美女寫真,老婆自拍,漂亮寶貝,聊天室,情色小遊戲,080 中部人聊天室,裸體寫真,線上看a片,18禁地少女遊戲,後宮情色網,日本女優,月宮貼圖區,

opop said...



lkjoijl said...

情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊美女, 視訊交友, ut聊天室, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, a片下載, av片, A漫, av dvd, av成人網, 聊天室, 成人論壇, 本土自拍, 自拍, A片, 愛情公寓, 情色, 舊情人, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 情色交友,

色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 色情a片, 一夜情, 辣妹視訊, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊, 視訊美女, 美女視訊, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, 情人視訊網, 影音視訊聊天室, 視訊交友90739, 成人影片, 成人交友,

免費A片, 本土自拍, AV女優, 美女視訊, 情色交友, 免費AV, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 色情影片, 成人影片, 成人網站, A片,H漫, 18成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網, 日本A片, 免費A片下載, 性愛, 成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人電影, 成人, 成人貼圖,

Jerry said...

cheap wedding gowns,
discount bridal gowns,
China wedding dresses,
discount designer wedding dresses,
China wedding online store,
plus size wedding dresses,
cheap informal wedding dresses,
junior bridesmaid dresses,
cheap bridesmaid dresses,
maternity bridesmaid dresses,
discount flower girl gowns,
cheap prom dresses,
party dresses,
evening dresses,
mother of the bride dresses,
special occasion dresses,
cheap quinceanera dresses,
hot red wedding dresses

cnb said...

Well said. I was thinking the same thing.

bosty said...

Thanks for the information regarding Family Guy episodes. This is my most favorite tv show.