Before I begin I must first make it known that I have always been a fan of Family Guy—I don’t believe my sense of camp or situational humor would have developed in quite the same way without it. What many people always thought was stupid—was slovenly, was uncouth, was a really pathetic and tasteless excuse for an animated sitcom that attempted, but failed miserably, to mimic whatever momentum that thrust the Simpsons through twenty years of airtime—I adored.
Many people could not understand this.
“Coby, you’re so smart,” they would say. “Why do you watch such filth?”
Family Guy is, after all, a show without any central plot. The show’s main enticement is in how quickly everything falls apart. Each episode begins either by commenting on irrelevant bits of folklore, or by questioning traditional beliefs and social order, before rapidly devolving into imbecilic chaos. But through witty references to history and apt allusions to popular culture, the show mocks the capricious rhythm of day-to-day life in America. In mocking the middle-American rationale, Family Guy questions the flimsy construction upon which human rationality is built.
Family Guy is actually a very smart show. Which is why it is such a shame that the series’ newest season is so atrociously awful.
You have no idea how much I wanted to like this season. I watched every episode with the careful, contemplative intent of a scholar, and the cautious distance of a domestic violence victim who is too committed to a relationship to get out, too anxious to experience what might come next. What I saw were crude attempts at humor through half-witted jokes about sex and Miley Cyrus, as well as maudlin lamentation over how lonely Quahog is since the character Cleveland left the show to pursue his own bids for primetime significance with The Cleveland Show. I saw the sad desperation of a show supporting itself on its last mobile leg, yet still trying to make it in the race for network ratings.
Every good producer knows when it’s finally time to pack up and move on. I can only hope Seth MacFarlane gets that memo soon.