“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop,” The King said to Alice, in Lewis Carroll’s timeless classic, “Alice in Wonderland”. Lewis Carroll’s vivid imagination was psychedelic before the word came into being but taking the King’s advice was the only way one could make head or tail of the book. After you peel off the absurdity, a deeper meaning is revealed. That’s what made the book so special. And that’s exactly what makes Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” special.
The animation revolves around a dysfunctional family comprising of the mom and dad — Loius and Peter respectively, their sons Stewie and Chris, their daughter Meg, and their dog Brian. Together they make up the Griffins, a family who give even the Simpsons a run for their money. “Family Guy” doesn’t just stir the hornet’s nest every episode, but rather makes a point to swing a hard kick at it. The show has found admirers and detractors in equal measure and the content does not make that surprising.
Each episode of “Family Guy” picks up from wherever it pleases and then blazes a trail that no one can make sense of. It is chaotic and seemingly directionless. Loose ends are handed out like candy during Easter and viewers are left confused, yet intrigued. Seth MacFarlane goes out of his way to find the line between offensive and tasteless and then blurs it. No issue is sensitive enough and no remark is insensitive enough. Peter Griffin’s crop of friends — which includes a handicapped police officer, a pervert and an African-American man — are the who’s who of “things you shouldn’t joke about”. Yet, “Family Guy” does just that.
Sometimes, the comedy stretches a bit too far. It goes from funny to tasteless to downright cruel in a matter of minutes and then reverts right back one cutaway later. The transition is seamless and the ensuing laughter is a sign of forgiveness. Since the show goes out of its way to take a dig at absolutely everyone, there is no unfair treatment or downright racism, which is offensive. We are all targets and we all get a good laugh at ourselves. Self-deprecating humour is always the best kind.
So how does one make sense of a show, which is as disjointed and restless as “Family Guy”? Just follow the King’s advice; start from the beginning, reach the end and then you stop. That’s when you realise that you weren’t served half an hour of dreamed up cruelty but rather were shown the beliefs society secretly nurtures. “Family Guy” washes and airs your dirty laundry and in the process of their absurdity, you get to absolve yourself of your misconceptions. So, sit back and have a guilt-free laugh; you know you want to.