The Family Guy Cast
It amazes me how comedy often creates a safe zone for daring topics like race, religion and politics to be addressed. Normally, American citizens will not openly make certain comments in public about race or religion, maybe politics if we are heavy into election season. Yet, if you are watching a show like Family Guy with a diverse group of people, you will all laugh at the same jokes – no matter how prejudice or racist the comments are.
Each character plays a certain role in the American family. Peter is the oblivious “family guy” who pays no attention whatsoever to his family. He is more into his own life and hanging out with his friends at the bar. Meg is the Tom Boy daughter who still has not discovered her femininity and struggles to fit into the “American Girl” stereotype. Similarly, Chris is the opposite of the “American Boy” stereotype, meaning he is not necessarily attractive and is less than intelligent. He is also struggling to find himself. Brian, the family dog is basically the most intelligent family member. Stewie is the not-so-cute, entitled, and also homosexual baby. Lois, the unconventional mother of the house who is candid and does not try to fit into the maternal mold set forth by American society. She can be sensitive one minute trying to figure out how to solve the family issues or turn into an aggressive, angry woman who man handles her husband in bed.
The show’s most risky humor relies mostly on Stewie because technically the other characters are unable to understand him since he is an infant. Therefore, the only people who catch his snide remarks are the audience. That way, the audience constantly feels like they are the only ones in on the joke. Such a strategy allows the writers of the show to slip in jokes that are normally deemed inappropriate without making the audience feel guilty for laughing at and enjoying the crude humor because they it is never confronted in the show because either the other characters don’t hear it or are oblivious to it. Don’t get me wrong, each character contributes their own controversial humor. Would it work if the jokes were all coming from one character? Or does the ubiquity of the humor make it acceptable to viewers?
The show’s creator does admit to Forbes the need to tread carefully when selecting jokes for the show. But what does the relatable humor say about American society? Is it a direct representation of American life, or a misguided parody?
~ Karoline Summerville