'Family Guy' slowly fading 0
If any show in the aging Fox/Global Sunday animation comedy block is going to be controversial at all, it's Family Guy. (Screen grab)
Speaking with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane at the Television Critics Association tour last summer, the subject of his movie Ted came up.
MacFarlane was asked if directing Ted -- which comes out this summer -- had impacted his work on Family Guy, which wraps up its 10th season with back-to-back episodes Sunday on Fox and Global.
"The movie is a full-time job," said MacFarlane, admitting that he was a tad less personally involved with Family Guy in season 10.
"But I'm hoping the show will maintain its controversial and hated status."
Hated is in the eye of the beholder. But there's no denying that for the past several years, if any show in the aging Fox/Global Sunday animation comedy block is going to be controversial at all, it's Family Guy.
Critics of Family Guy always have the opportunity to focus on one aspect and be outraged. In the U.S., for example, there were some ruffled feathers about last weekend's episode, titled Tea Peter, when lead character Peter Griffin (voiced by MacFarlane) joins the Tea Party and engineers the complete dismantling of government in Quahog, with disastrous results.
Curious, I went back and watched the episode, and in only 22 minutes, here are some of the edgy subjects the show mined for humour:
The Tea Party, Jews, Japanese, Russia, Somalia, the disabled, autism, lesbianism, Latinas, the lameness of white Americans trying to prepare ethnic food, masturbation (at least twice), inappropriate sexual conduct with animals and inappropriate sexual conduct with minors (at least three or four times).
As with all TV comedies, some of it hit the mark, some of it did not, although I always stress that humour is an intensely personal thing. The wider point is that the Tea Party hardly was the lone target.
U.S. numbers have been trending down a little bit for Family Guy this season, but lately it still has been getting five or six million viewers per week on Fox, and it's usually the top-rated show of the animation block.
In Canada on Global, The Simpsons still ranks slightly ahead of Family Guy ratings-wise. Family Guy is averaging about 700,000 viewers this season according to Shaw Media, which owns Global.
Somewhat surprisingly, when Fox announced its schedule for next fall, there were no changes to so-called Animation Domination. That means it's The Cleveland Show, The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad.
"We had talked about (a new version of) The Flintstones at one point, but unfortunately (MacFarlane) got jammed up doing his movie, we ran out of real estate, he just wasn't going to get it done, so we gave that up," said Fox entertainment president Peter Reilly. "But (re-invigorating the Sunday animation block) is a top priority for us in the next couple of cycles.
"We need the next generation. But in the meantime, this is one of the most reliable blocks on television and it works for us."
So changes are coming, just not quite yet.
For now, it's still up to Family Guy to boil the blood.