Guest Blogger

Modern Family and Family Guy: Not As Different As You'd Think

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 23, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Family Guy, gay kiss, Modern Family, Zack Rosen

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Zack Rosen is a Leo who is losing his hair. He blogs at The New Gay.

If you ever want to do something interesting, and you’ve already masturbated to Lebonese scat porn, you should try watching Modern Family back to back with Family Guy. Besides their shared use of the F-word, it’s striking to see how much both of these shows traffic in stereotypes. While Modern Family has won accolades in the queer community for a fairly honest portrayal of a gay couple, and Family Guy is widely reviled for sucking, and for being offensive to everyone in place of actual humor, the shows are very similar at their core.

This morning I watched the most recent episode of Modern Family, where gay couple Mitch and Cam exploit their status as gay parents of a “minority” child to win a spot at a prestigious preschool. Immediately after, I watched a Family Guy from last season where Peter makes a black friend who is great at darts, buys tacky paintings from the gas station and drives Peter crazy with the knowledge that he used to fuck Peter’s wife with his stereotypically 12″ penis.

At first glance, comparing these shows would seem like comparing apples and an ambrosia salad made from Keith Richard’s precum. After all, one is a look at three diverse families in real life situations, and the other hasn’t done anything worthwhile since I was a virgin. But if you look closer, they are cut from the same reductive cloth.

I do think that Modern Family is smart, well-written, and consistently very, very funny. But its edging closer and closer to “All in The Family” territory (there’s that word again) without an Archie Bunker figure to show that such sentiments aren’t ok anymore. As funny as she is, Gloria’s entire character centers around being a shrill, fiery Latina. No matter how insensitive Jay looks when he makes jokes about her origins, it doesn’t change the fact that we are laughing with him and at her.

Less cut-and-dry are Mitchell and Cameron. I continue to applaud the show for making these characters, for the most part, ordinary. They are older, domestic and don’t do things like go clubbing all night, wear tank tops 24/7 or cut hair to make a living. However, they are too often the subject of wink-wink-nudge-nudge jokes that play on gay stereotypes. While they try to offset this with references to Cam’s athletic prowess or Mitchell’s dowdiness, they fail the “drinking game” test. That is, if you took a shot every time of of them made a comment about gourmet food, home decor, or general sissiness you would have your stomach pumped faster than Ke$ha at a swallowing-mandatory BJ party.

Family Guy, by contrast, makes no attempts at couching its stereotypes in warm fuzzies and group hugs. When they have a trans character, you know that she’s going make another character vomit. The resident Jew in Quahog is cheap and whiny. While the Latino maid on the show sets race relations back about 45 years, at least they’re honest about their bigotry and don’t make any claims towards doing anything new.

I like Modern Family and I don’t like Family Guy. In the end, that’s the biggest difference for me. That’s why one is “appointment viewing” and the other is a backup for when I’m stoned or otherwise unable to leave the couch. But at the end of the day, I know this: Family Guy doesn’t have to worry about having a family audience. Pandering to no one but stupidity, they can take risks.

Modern Family, on the other hand, has been a runaway hit for over a year and still lacks the balls to show their gay characters regularly kissing like most couples. And that, more than anything coming out of Peter Griffin’s mouth, is offensive.


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I've yet to catch an episode of Modern Family, but to me Family Guy falls in the "offensive for the sake of being offensive" camp. Their primary motivation is to get people's attention, to watch their show. To me that's bullshit, and why I don't like it.

Yes, I've been increasingly getting upset with how Modern Family deals with things. The whole pretending to be native thing would have been enough to get me to turn it off and never watch again if it was in the first episode. Even now I might have shut it off if it wasn't down to the last few minutes and I had a guarantee it wouldn't last very long.

David Stevens | October 23, 2010 4:37 PM

haha i love both shows

Wow! There are two interesting statements in this guest blog:

1. "Family Guy is widely reviled for sucking, and for being offensive to everyone in place of actual humor..."
2. [Referring to Family Guy] "...at least they’re honest about their bigotry and don’t make any claims towards doing anything new."

"Family Guy" and its creators and writers are highly creative. Their genre is satire, which, practically by definition, is not bigoted or offensive. Some folks may not like the material or even be offended by the subject, but they are not required to watch, listen, or approve. Yes, the shows uses stereotypes, but it does so for satirical humor. In that sense, it's quite a success. It also has good ratings & merchandise sales. It tries to be satirical humor. In that sense, it succeeds.

I can watch episodes with friends my age (40!), young professionals, stoners, college kids, and even my tween nephews, who don't "get" a lot of the humor, much like they don't "get" a lot of the Bugs Bunny humor. They still laugh aloud at the parts they DO get. And I laugh at just about all the other parts! Kudos to Seth MacFarlane and the creative team. They are rather insightful and almost academic in their interviews.

Family Guy is creative? Humorous? Satirical?
LOL! That's a good one!

Oh thank god, I'm not the only one who had that reaction.
I'll admit Family Guy gets a witty little piece in here and there but that's become increasingly rare since it was resurrected. It's degenerated into "Let's appeal to the frat boys, and leave it at that" territory, with little if any redemption.

While:

"It's degenerated into 'Let's appeal to the frat boys, and leave it at that' territory, with little if any redemption."

They do know their audience, what with the dumbing down of America and the rise of the Tea Party.

Agreed. I used to like it for it's jabs at modern culture and stereotyping. Now it's just seems to have gone too far into "the stereotypes are the funniest part" territory that isn't taking jabs so much as being the one throwing punches.

I personally think both shows are primarily entertainment but I also feel as both have some undertones worth noting. In some ways both shows hold a bit of a mirror up to us as a society and personally. Modern Family is certainly watered down but their treatment of some subjects still often has a message that we all can laugh a little at ourselves. They have an element of just about everyone in one of the characters that does come a bit close to each of us giving us a place to relate to the show by. On the other hand, Family Guy, is crafted to be a slap in the face to about everyone who holds a prejudice as they almost go out of their way to hold the mirror up to our faces. Even if we do not like what we see all the time Family Guy seem to show we all find some humor in someone else's being different or in a given group we are not in ourselves.
Between the two shows, you could say, Modern Family's fix for a headache might be an Aspirin compared to Family Guy's solution which might be knocking someone out with a small sledge hammer. Both shows say something about us all when we watch them, a bit like a Rorschach Test you could say. In either case if you do not laugh at something in one or the other, you have wasted 30 minutes of your life you are not going to get back.