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So Family Guy Doesn’t Sneer at EVERY Pop Culture Cliche After All!

August 19, 2009

As Family Guy fans know, the animated Fox juggernaut scores many of its laughs by lampooning nearly every cultural trope one could imagine. But now that Family Guy has been nominated for the Best Comedy Emmy, we’re finally seeing Seth MacFarlane and his creative team wholeheartedly embracing at least one pop culture cliche. That of course would be the “lame Emmy self-promotion.”

In fact, they’re apparently taking the trophy-chasing to new levels. First, LA entertainment journalist and powerbroker Nikki Finke “outed” an e-mail sent by a Family Guy writer to a whole host of probable Emmy voters. Even the most seasoned political veteran could learn something from the persistence and thoroughness of the Family Guy scribe’s GOTV (“get out the vote”) effort. He stops just short of offering the voters a ride to the stationery store to make sure they have plenty of Bic ballpoints for their ballots.

And now the second wave of Family Guy’s “You Like Me, You Really Like Me” campaign has begun. Like Apple does in its Mac vs. PC spots (starring the genius John Hodgman), Family Guy is directly challenging and pointing out the flaws of their formidable competitors. The first target of this viral campaign is The Office.

To me, the Office video and the Emmy campaign just seem in poor taste, and not in the usual Family Guy way, which has its moments to be sure. They’re in poor taste in that they’re antithetical to what the show’s creators would have us believe is the fundamental Family Guy aesthetic—that the entirety of pop culture is stupid and worthy of ridicule.

On the surface, it appears that’s what they’re doing by insulting The Office. But what’s different this time is the Family Guy team’s motivation to directly compete with, rather than distance themselves from, other pop culture products.

So are Seth MacFarlane and company finally betraying how they really feel about the entertainment establishment? Has their outward disdain for the pop cultural universe been masking a deep-seated need for wide approval from those same insiders? At least to some extent, the Emmy campaign would seem to say Yes.

Postscript: should The Office wish to fire back at Family Guy, I suggest they make a Web video that shows the entire Office cast hanging out and watching Family Guy at Jim and Pam’s house. Show Michael and Kevin, Dunder Mifflin’s resident middle-school boys in grown men’s bodies, laughing hysterically. Show everyone else snickering mildly at best.

  1. James Holub permalink
    August 21, 2009 2:36 am

    You clearly just don’t get it at all.


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