Before I begin this electronic-opinion, I'd like to point out a serious mistake on the part of Epinions in their placement of Family Guy under the Kids section of the site (though that's not to suggest that stupid mistakes on the part of Epinions are anything new). As you probably already know (and if not, this review will 'inform' you), Family Guy is a crude and discriminative show that blatantly presents racial charicatures in various - often insulting, contexts. Not that I'm affected by any of this, nor are true fans, but I don't think Family Guy would be a show suitable for a younger demographic. So, disregard the placement of this category heeding my advice instead: keep thine offspring remote!
Seth MacFarlane was hired in 1998 on the recommendation of certain forces at MadTV to produce a television show similar to his 1995 short, "The Life of Larry". After a successful pilot, Family Guy became a primetime reality that rivalled The Simpsons in terms of, at first, quality. Family Guy, of course, was better than the awful Simpsons shows that would come at the turn of the century, but in early-99 it actually had some competition from the then-still-respectable Groening-Brooks manifesto.
The show chronicles the lives of a very typical suburban family. Everything is, on the surface, formulaic - 2.5 kids(one of which a teenager insecure about her appearance and popularity, and a pube-scent (WHY IS THIS WORD OUTLAWED?) sex-obsessed 13 year old), a husband that works some crap job to just-barely sustain the family and it's needs, a SAHM (though one that teaches piano lessons out of her home... but is that really a noteworthy job?), a dog, and the practice of eating dinner at it's designated table 'as a family'. Yes, the family setting in Family Guy is seemingly as archetypical as archetype has ever been depicted on television.
There is, however, a difference with the "Griffins", that being their severe dysfunctionality and that the dog and baby are a lot smarter than the family with which they reside. The dog; Brian, is a patron of classical music and various art, while the baby is a mad and verbose genius that everyone seems to ignore and condescend to, despite appearing to understand him. The family setting in Family Guy is in direct opposition to the cliche which it's main characters seem to be a part of. The father, who in that cliche is the intellectual authority and typically a source of wisdom, is a total idiot not unlike Homer Simpson. But the difference with FG and The Simpsons is that Seth MacFarlane's show takes the concept to it's extreme.
The show is at-times blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise offensive. Family Guy isn't, however, a show that glorifies any of these behaviors, though the kiddies would probably interpret it as such (thus, my preamble). Much like with the destruction of the family cliche, Family Guy also takes it's (potentially) offensive content to an extreme. The derogatory stuff is there for the same reasons that Tom Green orally milks cows, that Marylin Manson claims to mutilate and orally masturbate himself, etc. - it's the raw shock value of the material. So, the humor is definitely not for the weak at heart, nor the easily-offended/fragile contingents, though warning them of it will probably not preclude those vultures from sitting by their television sets anyway eagerly awaiting a reason to boycott the network.
Seth MacFarlane does most of the voice work for the show (Stewie, Peter, and Brian Griffin, Quagmire, Tom Tucker, and others), while Alex Borstein voices Lois Griffin and Seth Green does Chris. Seth, despite being at the time of the show's initiation at least twice as old as the character he voiced managed to be a pretty convincing thirteen year old, stemming perhaps from the general boyishness of his characters in film. The 'other' Seth, the mastermind behind the series, does a vast number of distinctly hilarious voices. He's excellent at this. Though guest stars were never as frequent on Family Guy, a few (like Ron Jeremy and the mayor Adam West) do make memorable appearances. 'Memorable' meaning performances that don't feel tacked on for the sake of having celebrities on the show. The Simpsons could take a page from Family Guy in this regard.
With consideration to everything written above, I find it increasingly insulting of Epinions to classify this show under a children's cartoon simply because of the fact that it's animated. It is hash-mentality, to crudely apply a programming concept to this pseudo-reality setting, in which an element (in this case, Family Guy) is immediately identified by a key aspect, in this case the fact that it's animated. There is little regard given towards the content of the show or the characters - who cares about paying attention to that trivial crap?? It's animated; thus, it's for kids. Yeah... idiots.
Season 1 and 2 DVDs are out now, as a reminder. The Third season DVD, which will be the most individually impressive as the last season featured the most (22, as I recall) episodes, will be released in September of this year. Commentary from the man himself, Seth MacFarlane, is included with each disc... who wouldn't hear what this guy has to say? I'd get it for the extra features alone.
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