There was a time, a brief and golden time, when Family Guy wasn’t just one of the funniest shows on TV – it was one of the funniest shows ever made. someday somebody will put together a list of the funniest TV series (quick, what’s the plural of series?) ever made, and along with the first season of Friends, one episode of Frasier and Black Books, Family Guy Season 8 will be there on that list.
My favourite episode, and possibly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, is S08E03, Spies Reminiscent Of Us. It included such classics as the Stewie Babushka Doll moment:
And John Wayne at the first Thanksgiving, which gets carried as a running joke. I spent three months saying this, annoying virtually everybody I met and finding it hilarious each time. Sometimes even now I’ll text it to somebody random.
I mention this because someday we might have to struggle to remember that Family Guy used to be funny. I know this is true because I just finished watching season 10 and, boy, have the frequency of the jokes decreased. I’m not sure when this happened, because I remember 9 being pretty brilliant. But 10 was not funny – it was a chore to labor through the episodes, except for several rare exceptions. Jokes were a long time in coming and it seems like references were missing. Hell, it included an episode on domestic abuse. I get that sure, you have to laugh at everything, but you have to be a comedy master to make DA funny, and it wasn’t. It had the feeling of a first draft, where people were playing around with ideas that weren’t fully-formed. It felt like, with Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (and yes, I didn’t have to look that up) and Seth Macfarlane being largely absent from the writing process, due to other projects, the other writers were kind of phoning it in. At least, I’m hoping so, because Season 10 was heart-breaking. It wasn’t the Family Guy I’ve come to rely on for my American funnies – it was American Dad. It was The Cleveland Show.
And these are strong words for me, because I loathe these programs. They have nothing of the originality of Family Guy about them – they’re half-baked crap and I wish they didn’t exist. Feel free to disagree with me on this – many do – but these shows don’t have the Zeitgeist-y feel of Family Guy.
And I don’t think that Seth Macfarlane is running out of ideas, either – Ted is one of my favourite movies of 2012 and had both an emotional depth and a surfeit of blue-collar humour that suggests that he hasn’t fallen out of love with what he does, or drained the creativity well, so to speak. I think, if anything, he was away making Ted while somebody else wrote Family Guy season 10. And that’s okay, I guess, but they aren’t as funny as he is.
Which is a shame. I hope this doesn’t signify the beginning of the end of Family Guy, where it’s doomed to endless series syndications like The Simpsons or South Park.
Somebody famous once said that the sign of true artistry is knowing when to stop. If that’s true, I hope Family Guy stops. Here’s a reminiscipackage of some of Family Guy‘s Greatest Moments.
The Paul Schaffer Fire Alarm
The Two Jobs (Buttscratcher and The Tuba)
I’m Watching You!
That’s all folks. Have some Jennifer Connelly boobs because I can’t think of a conclusion.