The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Meet The Family

Tae Andrews | Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Finish your beer and get off the couch, Homer. The Griffins have officially replaced the Simpsons as the funniest dysfunctional family on network television. Homer Simpson, the beer-swilling head of the Simpson clan, has finally met his match in Peter Griffin, the rotund father of the Griffin household.

While Homer could doubtless hold his own in a case race with the similarly alcoholic Griffin, Simpson’s tired repertoire of gender insensitivity and the occasional “d’oh” is easily defeated by Peter’s seemingly endless arsenal of chauvinistic one-liners.

A cursory comparison between the rest of the two families yields the same result: the Simpsons are basically Family Guy Lite; half the calories, not quite funny enough. Marge Simpson, despite sporting a blue coiffure resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa, is overmatched by Peter’s wife Lois. Sparring siblings Bart and Lisa, meet Chris and Meg.

And baby Maggie, you are officially the weakest link, especially when compared to baby Stewie, the matricidal mastermind with the Napoleonic complex and sophisticated vocabulary. As far as quirky neighbors go, “Family Guy” sees The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders and raises Cleveland, Quagmire and Joe. This is not to downplay the success and staying power of the Simpsons; the show set the precedent for animated family comedy on cable TV. “Family Guy” basically beats the Simpsons at their own game.

“Family Guy,” the brainchild of creator/producer Seth McFarlane, is easily the most irreverent, disrespectful and downright insulting show on television – and is also the funniest. Throwing political correctness out the window, McFarlane has created an anything-goes comedic atmosphere that frequently hits below the belt. No topic is taboo, and “Family Guy” often waxes comedic on all kinds of indecent topics.

McFarlane is the champion of “isms”: chauvinism, sexism, racism, etc. In fact, the third season’s 3-disc box set might be the most culturally offensive trio to hit North America since the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

However, the show’s incessant barrage of racial stereotyping and sexist remarks are tempered by a nonstop parade of cameos, flashbacks and references. McFarlane’s sense of humor could be described as “machine-gun comedy:” he fires away with reckless abandon, peppering the viewer with an incessant barrage of lines which are in turn ridiculous, offensive and hilarious, all the while confident that at least a few of his eclectic rounds will find their mark.

That “Family Guy” is a cartoon allows McFarlane to get away with things in the animated medium that would earn him an NC-17 rating or outright censure in live-action form. There is no denying Seth McFarlane’s comedic genius – in addition to writing and directing the show, he voices the characters of Peter, Brian, Stewie and Quagmire. He is matched by Alex Borstein, who, in her own words, voices “70 percent” of all the female characters on the show, including Lois, Asian correspondent Tricia Takanawa, and female news anchor Barbara Pewterschmidt.

“Family Guy” was canceled by Fox, but overwhelmingly positive response to the DVDs helped bring it back. The show made its triumphant return to network television last May, and new episodes are slated to air on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m.