Family Guy – Why is it so popular?

The FOX sitcom Family Guy has always intrigued me because of how wildly offensive it is, yet the show has been on the air since 1999 (despite being cancelled two different times). I remember whenever my brother or I would watch the show as kids, my mom would always make us change the channel because of the offensive nature of the show. Family Guy was the one show she could not tolerate.


Image courtesy of

Whenever I watch the show now, I understand why she never wanted us watching it – it is extremely offensive and crosses just about every line imaginable.  No one is safe from being made fun of, not even Jesus. So how does the show get away with this and why is it still so popular?

I don’t think there is one definitive answer for this question. I think for some the show is a guilty pleasure. I also think that some people enjoy the show because offensive people do exist and can relate to the show. Another option could be that it is a show to watch when you do not want to get involved in complex plot lines or you need something to laugh about. You could easily say the show is rotten to the core, but I’ll even admit there are many things I find myself laughing at in the show.

The creator of Family Guy, Seth McFaralane, acknowledges how the show is offensive and might not really have a point to it in the 100th episode. The episode features McFaralane interviewing different people on their feelings towards Family Guy. The general consensus of the show is that it is incredibility offensive, has no point, and needs to be cancelled.


Still from Family Guy, 100th Episode Special (Season 6, Episode 4, 2007)

For me, the show is definitely a guilty pleasure. However, I can say that there have been many times where I’ve felt the show has crossed the line and jokes have just gone too far. There have been multiple times where I ask myself, “Why am I even watching this?” yet I keep watching it.

Family guy is undeniably immature and I think it is degrading towards everyone. I really don’t think anyone is safe from being made fun of on the show.

So for other people that watch Family Guy, what makes you keep watching it? Why do you think it is so popular?

– Katie Thevenow

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3 Responses to Family Guy – Why is it so popular?

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I can’t relate to liking Family Guy because I think the show is incredibly dumb and a waste of time. But I can see how others might like to indulge in the sitcom. I agree with you in that I feel as though people like to watch a show that they can unwind to and don’t have to necessarily pay attention to. I definitely think this is the case with Family Guy. -Courtney Green

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I think at first the cut away trope in Family Guy was well-used and actually funny, but the writers just lost steam and interest. I think crass humor is a really important aspect of free speech and the show should stay on air if it has the ratings, but if the jokes lack depth, than perhaps it is time to put a nail in that coffin.

    Have you ever seen the South Park about Family Guy? Really well done. Their theory about how Family Guy writers put together plot lines is hysterical.

    Elyse Conklin

  3. marymdalton says:

    There is a really interesting article about Family Guy and magical realism in a special issue of the Journal of Film and Video on animated sitcoms that Laura Linder and I co-edited. You may want to check it out!

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