I have been spending the weekend in Boston with family, and one of the local comedians here claimed via chat that I was dead wrong about Family Guy (regarding my post from Thursday about the show's derivative Emmy campaign) and that the show is funny and I should watch it more. Coincidentally, I just so happened to be up late Sunday night and saw that Family Guy was on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and zipped on over for a look-see, and what should my wandering eyes find but an episode in which Meg announces she is pregnant, cutting to a scene with Peter waving a coat hanger at her, and later, Lois suggesting that Meg smoke and drink more to get rid of it.
The first thing I thought was not how funny that was, but rather…isn't there currently some hullabaloo about FOX not airing a Family Guy episode because it talks about abortion?! Why yes. My short-term memory has been working properly, because the show's mastermind was just talking to everyone who'd listen about that very thing. Here's a video chat with trade mag The Hollywood Reporter from earlier this very month:
And after saying how FOX wouldn't allow this to air, they held a public table read with the cast of the "abortion" episode for TV critics and Emmy voters (!), and said if you want to see the whole thing, they'd just have to go and buy, buy, buy up the DVDs when they come out in 2010.
OK. So the line about China is nice. And if you go back over the last 30-35 years, as Seth MacFarlane argues, you won't find many TV comedies that devote the entire episode to abortions. Except, of course, for all of the existing evidence that this show and this network have had seemingly no problems whatsoever joking about abortions plenty of times over.
Like, oh, I don't know, this scene in which Peter tells a cruise ship the story of how he tried to get his wife, Lois, to have an abortion but ran into a wee bit o' trouble.
Or this short joke about how colonial-era Americans conducted abortions.
Or the repeated episode I saw on TV a few hours ago:
And that's not all. Even this clip, which is about women throwing away babies in a dumpster, might not be about abortions, per se, but um, here:
So yes, my cynical critical button has been pressed once again by Mr. MacFarlane. I'm sure he's a funny guy and there are scenes from the show that have made me laugh or at least acknowledge that he and his writers indeed have a sense of humor in there somewhere (and there's a certain sensibility that fans of shows such as 30 Rock and Scrubs should identify with, at least, even if they claim not to). But this abortion brouhaha seems more than a little disingenuous.