Family Guy Review: "Into Fat Air"
“With fourth wall jokes, and wanna-be edgy jabs at God and religion sprinkled (quite generously) throughout twenty-two minutes, it’s clear that Family Guy hasn’t changed, and probably won’t in the slightest.”
Oh, Family Guy. What is there to say about this show that hasn’t already been said? Family Guy shares the comedic genius of Arrested Development with the intricate plotting and structure of Lost. There, that probably hasn’t been said. Nor will it ever be. I guess we can start with the backstory of the show. The world caught its first glimpse of Family Guy in 1999. Back then, the show was a newcomer in the “offensive cartoon sitcom” category, and had to compete with shows like The Simpsons, King of the Hill, (who both shared the same network, Fox) and of course, South Park, which was, at the time, one of the most offensive shows on television. Family Guy had to work hard to stay on the air, while trying its best not to seem like an offensive Simpsons clone. For the most part, it did well. After only a few years, however, it was pulled from the air in 2000. There was little uprising or revolt at the show’s cancellation, as we saw with Arrested Development, and will probably see with the imminent death of the wonderful Community; needless to say, Family Guy wasn’t missed.
However, later that year, the show somehow vomited its way back onto Fox after a boom in its DVD sales.
And, it was all downhill from there.
Last night, the show inexplicably premiered its eleventh season with the family racing the (apparent) rival family to the top of Mount Everest in an episode not-so-cleverly titled “Into Fat Air,” mocking up the book Into Thin Air by John Krakauer. The family races and climbs up the mountain with wanna-be offensive jokes along the way, with little of the dialogue having to do with the actual plot of the episode. Of course Peter, Brian, Stewie, and the often forgot about rest make it to the top without any casualties whatsoever. The rest of the plot is almost completely irrelevant considering most of it is shoved aside to make room for more fart, vomit, and flashback jokes. It feels like the writers of the show have written themselves into a rut. Either that, or they believe their target audience to be Dory the fish from Finding Nemo. And, as always, every single one of the jokes are explained, just in case the person on the other end didn’t understand.
Now I get where Family Guy is coming from, I really do. There are times when pointing out the obvious can, in fact, lead to a few laughs. For example:
“Hey, buddy, why did the chicken cross the road?”
“I dunno, friend, why did the chicken cross the road?”
“To get to the other side!”
“Oh, hahaha, I get it. It’s funny because the other side of the road and death are the same thing.”
(I just blew your freaking mind right there, didn’t I?)
Anyway, back on point. This—and I cringe to call it such—form of “comedy” is overused and rehashed almost every five minutes of the twenty-two minute run time. It’s almost as if they’re writing for a completely different audience every episode. No, not in the sense that the ideals—if there were any—change to fit the mindset of the audience members, but rather keeping things exactly the same, as if every week the entire audience was watching the show for the very first time. To someone who actually has never seen Family Guy, and watched their first episode last night, I would understand why they would find it funny. The oddball sense of humor mixed with the not-so-subtle racism is perfect for a first time laugh. However, what baffles me most is how this show manages to stay on the air when it’s just the same thing every week. The jokes are stupid and idiotic, and no one acts like an actual human being. Now I get that Family Guy obviously isn’t going for realism here, that’s completely understandable, but if you’re going to do stupid jokes—especially if you know they’re stupid—you have to pull it off correctly. It can’t be rehashed jokes from previous episodes which were slightly reworked jokes from an even earlier episode (joke-ception). You have to be smart to make stupid funny, and it’s perfectly clear in the Family Guy writing office, brain waves are at a flat line.
Shows are supposed to grow and mature over time, not belittle themselves to a pile of crap teenagers watch every week when they’re stoned with their friends. Look at South Park, for example: a show which started out crude, rude, and stupid. It’s a surprise the show made it out of the first season. Even the creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, say they wish the first three seasons didn’t exist. But their ideas grew and the jokes became classy, topical satire hidden under a layer of stupid rather than just fart jokes. Family Guy has done almost the exact opposite. What used to be a decent show with funny and original jokes has turned into a self-aware, redundant mockery of itself. With fourth wall jokes, and wanna-be edgy God jokes sprinkled (quite generously) throughout twenty-two minutes, it’s clear that Family Guy hasn’t changed, and probably won’t in the slightest.
It’ll be a long season.
Things to Note:
-Like Peter’s embarrassment to look for tampons off of dead people, I’m embarrassed watching this show.
-The Garfield principal: sometimes the rest of the family can understand Brian and Stewie completely, and other times they can’t. (Props to our writer Chris Vanjoanck for coining this term!)
-You could smell the death of one of the rival family like a dog smells a treat.