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TV4U: The decay of Family Guy

I loved Family Guy. I thought it was creative, energetic humor that didn't constrain itself to things like practical sense or formula. Of course, you can argue that it was a Simpsons clone, and you would not be entirely wrong, but when I was in High School, Family Guy was kind of animated comedies.

I find that either one of two things is happening now though: either I'm getting older, and the Family Guy of the past just has a nostalgic ring to it, or that the show itself has gotten substantially worse. Of course, there is nothing one can say about nostalgia in the sense of an argument. Nostalgia is just the rose-colored glasses that tint our past, and nothing can really be said outside of that. So I will try to keep my reasoning in the latter possibility, and just look at what has changed about the show.

1: Characters.
As with any show that doesn't have an overarching narrative, the characters have to carry a lot of the burden of keeping things interesting. You didn't watch the episode of Meg working for the paper because it was a high school girl in the paper, you watched it because it was a character you knew and enjoyed put in a new situation.
So let's start off with Meg. Does she do anything anymore? Meg was supposed to be the most understandable character of the show. Sure, we all laughed when she got rejected, and no one liked her for seemingly no reason, but that's how a lot of people (especially girls) have felt at one point or another. It was funny because we went "oh, I know what that's like." They even started doing a good thing, where she became more self-assertive and abrasive with her often neglectful family.
Then she just kind of...faded out, only to be brought back as the butt of all jokes. Because, you know, people can't handle development and character, they just want to go "hur hur, it's funny because we hate her." And while we're on the subject of one dimensional characters...
I will say nothing on the issue of homosexual politics, but if I was of that persuasion, I would be straight up insulted by the way that Seth MacFarlane portrays gay people. For someone so obsessed with pushing the liberal agenda (more on that later) he kind of sort of utterly fails at it. Stewie started off as a mad, homicidal baby who was never taken seriously do to his age. It was hilarious. Now...he's gay. That's it. 90% of the time that is the only actual character trait he shows. I have the same beef with the neighbors in "American Dad." It is as though they can have no other sense of self outside of their sexuality. Real gay people, like say Neil Patrick Harris, are not like this. Yes, it is a part of their lives, but not every single decision they make or word they say comes back to it, and assuming that they are so one-dimensional is almost a higher insult than most things.
For the rest of the major characters: Peter has just gone full-retard, usually not even learning from his mistakes, Chris is just brain dead and like Meg has lost his interesting character development (his passion for art) and Lois has gone from the voice of reason to a just plain bitch. We will get to Brian in a moment.
Minor characters have also suffered greatly. Quagmire remains mostly unchanged, but Joe is now just pissed off all the time, Cleveland has his own show, and most others were one-joke props to begin with.
2: MacFarlane himself.
I know that most of these problems can be traced back here, but I feel that this deserves a special mention. MacFarlane has sadly seemed to have taken the road that George Lucas (and to a lesser extent, Stephen Moffat, but more on that in another article) have taken. All three of them NEED someone to tell them no sometimes. Sadly, once they became popular enough, or gained enough power, no one was able to do that. The best Family Guy came when MacFarlane had someone to answer to. Granted, he needed the right kind of person who would let him explore, but he still needed someone to say NO when he strayed too far. Now, he is too successful to be argued with, and that is when many an art dies. People have great ideas, but those ideas often need to be tempered by co-workers or superiors. Once you've risen above that, well, you're going to make mistakes, and no one will have the balls to point them out.
1: The textbook liberal agenda.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: Brian believes in a liberal cause. Another character doesn't. By the end of the show, the conservative character has realized how foolish they've been and concede that Brian was right the whole time.
That should sound familiar, as it's essentially the crux of Brian's character nowadays. Having a message is fine, but MacFarlane will often go the worst, most insulting route imaginable to get his point across. If there's a debate, you can put money on the conservative side being portrayed as morally bankrupt, grossly incompetent, or downright sadistically moronic. There was a brief abortion debate in one episode where the pro-life argument was given by a woman who literally spoke with a speech retardation.
Screw. You.
I don't care if you're pro-choice, or whatever side of any argument you're on. In the name of progress and reason, you do NOT portray everyone who doesn't agree with you like this. That is not enlightened thinking, that is not being the reasonable one, this is straight up, unfiltered propaganda, and I could rant about it for pages.
Another thing I could rant about is the stance on religion. I will hold my own religious views, because this site is not supposed to be about it, but McFarlane has a tendency for portraying religious followers as even worse than standard conservatives. For the sake of this show, being religious equals being a brainwashed, dogmatic zombie.
Grow the hell up.
A lot of people believe in religion. Good, honest, self-thinking people who believe in a greater power than themselves, and don't just take every word of any scripture for granted. You do not get to just throw a blanket stereotype on all of them like this, and still take yourself seriously.
That's probably what annoys me the most about the preaching. It halts the jokes and starts taking itself seriously, like MacFarlane is going to teach you the right way of thinking. You are a cartoonist MacFarlane. You wrote an entire episode based around "The Bird is the Word." You are welcome to your opinions, you are even more than welcome to express them. When you take it upon yourself to go out of your way to insult anyone who opposes you, however, you cross a line.

And that's why my current favorite animated show is Archer.