Family Guy (1999 IMDb)

Viewing

Review refers to the first four seasons and somewhat scattered episodes thereafter, up to season 10.

Categorization

Nihilistic clone of The Simpsons (1989), a bit heavier on pop-culture references (particularly old sitcoms) and musical numbers. A lot of the humour courts and mocks controversy, as in South Park (1997) but with even less sympathetic characters.

Subject

A family of five lives in modern Rhode Island. The father is a 42-year-old TV addict who eventually loses his job at an assembly line and becomes a fisherman. The mother, a slut at heart, comes from a very rich family. Their seventeen-year-old daughter is remarkably normal and treated with disgust, whereas their pubescent son is shaping up to be just as fat and idiotic as his old man. The youngest child turns 1 in an early episode but was still somehow chosen as the show's C.M. Burns ripoff after several episodes of dull attempted matricide. He and the dog can talk and are both very intelligent, but must struggle against their natures.

Commentary

Sometimes goes too far in plagiarism, for example when Lois develops Marge's gambling problem. Much of the intertextuality routinely rehashes postmodernism à la Baudrillard; in episode 14 of the second season, the father uses the mythology of John Hughes movies to infiltrate “real” youth culture, succeeding totally, in a cartoon popular with a young real-world audience. Brian is a shining example of appropriate incongruity at work.

Ugly grotesquerie is traditionally used to mark American cartoons that aren't just for children, but Family Guy is fairly light on this at first. There are even lengthy action sequences that imply a joy of animation, but somewhere around the eighth season (e.g. episode 17), sadistic depictions of violence become fairly common, as if to brand the show's gross-out humour with a specifically adult seriousness, which I find incompatible with the previous style. In the tenth season, this is combined with serious treatment of habitual domestic abuse (episode 3) and similar themes.

References here: Ups 'n Downs (1931).

animation series

Direct-to-DVD side story:

Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (2005 IMDb)

Commentary

More of the same and some swearing. Hardly coherent.

animation movie