Pros: Hands down, the only sitcom that makes me consistently laugh out loud.
Cons: well it's cancelled now...try catching the DVD. Also not meant for the kiddies.
I have become jaded at television sitcoms. They're simply no longer funny. Why? Because they're all afraid of taking risks and crossing lines, afraid of low ratings, afraid of being sued, afraid of offending someone. Comedy has become so politically correct and diluted that it has come to point that I may occasionally think, "hey that's kinda witty", or "interesting". We've seen the mold-breakers, and they've found thousands of TV watchers who feel the same way I do. Married with Children, South Park, these are just some of the hit series that offended many, but built a fanatically devoted fanbase. Family Guy is next in this list.
Before you continue, ask yourself this question:
When you tell a joke to your friends, is it:
(a) a joke that relies on wordplay (eg. puns, double meanings), interesting observations (eg. seinfeld comedy)
(b) either sexual or ethnically related
If you picked answer A, congratulations, you are very intelligent, sophisticated, or lying. Go and watch the Simpsons, which is written by Harvard graduates and caters to the entire family.
If you picked answer B, you're like me. Call me crude, a brute, uncivilized, whatever, B jokes are the ones that make me laugh out loud. And this is the kind of humor Family Guy delivers. It is the boldest show on TV right now in that it doesn't care what is says or who it offends.
Family Guy, in some historical perpective, is a response to this age of political correctness that we live in. The opening says it all with delicious irony, "it seems today, that all we see, is violence in movies, and sex on tv, but where are all of those good-old fashioned values, on which we used to rely?" Watch ten minutes and you'll understand the irony I mentioned before.
This is not a show for kids, or for anal-retentive viewers, the kind that send angry mail to the TV editors when their sensitive feelings are hurt. Family Guy will offend everyone and everything, without discrimination. At least it insults equally. It relies on random humor a lot as well. For example, Peter (the father) runs home and trips, and rubbing his ankle says "ssssssshhhhh ahhhhhhh, sssshhhhh ahhhhh" for over two minutes. You're right in thinking that isn't comedy, because it isn't. But seeing it go on for such a ridiculously long time makes it funny. Another time Peter shouts out, "Oh no!" and the Kool aid man bursts through the wall and says "Oooohh yyeeaahh!"
At first you shake your head in disbelief at the stupidity. But this kind of random humor is inserted at every dulling moment to keep the jokes fresh and coming.
But random humor is mainly the filler, the true genius comes in its writing. For example, Stewie (the 1 year old baby) is interrogating a Kermit the Frog Doll and demands to know what its plans are. To persuade the lifeless doll to confess Stewie takes a doll of Ms. Piggy and proceeds to "ravage" it, saying naughty phrases. After a moment he realizes the pathetic situation he's in and with malaise states, "Oh god, look at me, I've become my father."
True, it had no relevance to the storyline, but Family Guy celebrates randomness for the sake of sheer stupidity. It works and is genuinely funny if you don't watch the show expecting to get more than laughs from it.
Does Family Guy cross the line? Absolutely. In fact, it doesn't just cross it, it stamps it out. But it works because it crosses the line on everything, not just some things. Nothing is taboo, and Family Guy will shock you in how it disrespects everything equally, from pope to walt disney (one scene shows Walt starting out in his drawing studio, drawing a reluctant stripping Minnie Mouse, who with a tear in her eye, pleads, "do I have to?" to which Walt roughly replies, "You want to be famous, don't you? Now take it off, oh yeah.")
Whether you find that funny or not, it is creative, without a doubt. Another scene which I love is when Clevland (Peter's black friend) is touring a new, high tech police Van with Peter. Joe the cop tells peter to stand on the new criminal handcuffing system, which peter does and handcuffs come down from mechanical arms and gently cuff him. Peter is amazed, and Clevland wants a try. Clevland steps on the beacon as Joe the Cop shouts, "NO, Don't!". At once beatsticks come down from the roof and beat Clevland, shouting in a robot voice, "minority suspect! minority suspect!" and as Clevland is being beaten on the floor the arms drop, instead of cuffs, a handgun by the victim and the voice shouts out, "he's got a gun! he's got a gun!"...
As you can see, it certainly is humor intended for some (perfect for college students) that demands a comprehensive understanding of pop and current culture from the viewer. It is certainly crude and clever, creative and by all means politically incorrect. It is a show for those sick of watching sanitized television with tame characters.
As for comparison with the Simpsons, I won't say anything but this, Simpsons has suprisingly varying quality from episode to episode (does anyone else remember when Homer joins a motorcycle gang???) and while I find it very funny, rarely makes me burst out in pure laughter. Family Guys is consistent, I have seen every episode and they all have defining moments. And for those who so quickly stamp Simpsons over Family Guy, how many people find the first two seasons of the Simpsons genuinely funny?