Friday, February 19, 2010

Family Guy and Freud

Although many viewers jump to harsh conclusions about certain programs, they simply may need to open their minds to see the important messages being shared. Antonia Peacocke, author of “Family Guy and Freud”, was once turned off by the humor that is Family Guy. It’s likely that she is not the only person who would change the channel immediately, to ensure not a second’s worth of ratings go to this program which is notorious for its crude humor. However, many viewers continue to stay glued to this television program, utilizing their ability to think outside the box and appreciate the show’s content. After Peacocke’s brother and everyone else she knew were watching it religiously, she decided to give it a chance (260). Much to her surprise, she found herself embracing it’s humor and paying closer attention to the creators’ intentions. If you have ever watched Family Guy, you were probably offended by something at one point in time; after all, from the naked eye, it can come off as rude and distasteful. However, if we enhance our perception and take a deeper look into the humor portrayed on the show, we can see that it draws on real-life situations faced by society everyday.

One episode described in Peacocke’s essay features a mock 1950’s instructional video portraying women in the workplace.. It shows a businessman speaking into the camera describing how to make sure women feel comfortable in the workplace. He says to make sure you tell them how good they look and that nothing says “good job!” like a firm open-palm slap on the behind (260). It’s obvious that some people are going to find this skit sexist, given its discernible knocks on female workers. However, when enhancing our perception and thinking outside the box, it’s clear that this skit is not putting women down, but rather mocking how women were once treated in the workplace and the odd normalcies of the 1950’s.

Peacocke spoke of author George Will and offered her views on his piece entitled “Bart Simpson: Prince of Irreverence.” She agrees with Will that there are definitely times when creators do cross the line of decency. She does not agree with his statement that “entertainment seeking a mass audience is ratcheting up the violence, sexuality, and degradation, becoming increasingly coarse and trying to be…shocking in an unshockable society (266). She believes that the Family Guy humor is intelligent and that the coarse scenes have hidden merit.

If Peacocke were to read Dana Stevens’ essay called “Thinking Outside the Idiot Box,” she may relate this article to an episode of Family Guy where Brian and Stewie are discussing Stewie’s obsession with the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. In this episode, the creators were cleverly attempting to point out America’s obsession with celebrities and television, and less willing to admit doing so. This insightful part of the episode goes hand in hand with Stevens’ thesis that America is not getting any smarter because of TV. Stevens believes that watching TV teaches us to want to watch more TV, which is exactly what Stewie intends to do while waiting for Oprah to announce the next book in the book club.

There have been several episodes of Family Guy that have been misunderstood by many, and it’s caused the show to be cancelled twice (258). Viewers fought back against the cancellations and the program was brought back with a vengeance. Despite its questionable delivery, one fact remains true: Family Guy exposes true aspects of American culture. Peacocke firmly believes that we should stop dwelling on the controversy and start focusing on what the show is trying to tell us (261). There is so much more than what meets the eye.

Peacocke, Antonia. "Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and their relation to the unconscious." They Say I Say. Comp. Gerald Greff, Cathy Berkenstein, Russel Durst. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2009. Print

Rushkoff, Douglas. "Bart Simpson: Prince of Irreverance." They Say I Say. Comp. Gerald Greff, Cathy Berkenstein, Russel Durst. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2009. Print

Stevens, Dana. "Thinking Outside the Idiot Box." They Say I Say. Comp. Gerald Greff, Cathy Berkenstein, Russel Durst. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2009. Print


  1. Wow, that is an extremely good paper. You have tons of detail and facts from the story and then you also add some of your own personal opinions. You have clear points, and your paragraphs flow very nicely, so really good job! And you’re right, at first Family Guy can seem pretty offensive. When I first saw it, I didn’t think it was funny at all, and then once I watched it for a while and started to get the underline things they were saying, it was hilarious! It’s one of my favorite shows now.

  2. “Peacocke firmly believes that we should stop dwelling on the controversy and start focusing on what the show is trying to tell us.” I think I would have like to know if Peacocke had found any morals within the Family Guy show, and if she did what were they? Also the title is Family Guy and Freud, but I didn’t see anything about Freud so where does that fit in? I did enjoy reading your post and I found out something I didn’t know which is that Family Guy was canceled twice and brought back because of the viewers. I myself am very fond of Stewie, every time he gets on a tirade and talks a million miles an hour I smile. Jody

  3. I agree with Jeb, I was waiting to get to the Freud part. You used some good examples from the book and even used Youtube to provide a visual- nice touch. I can relate to the author. I too once did not like Family Guy, but then I actually started to listen to it and now it is pretty funny.

    I think that the composition of your paper flows nicely together and answers all the question for the weekly assignment.

  4. Yeah you two are right... there really was not a section about Freud in the reading. The author hardly incorporated Freud into her essay - which I found strange also! Basically I think Freud has a book called "Jokes and their relation to the unconscious" and his point in the book, If I understand correctly, is that we sometimes don't see the underlying humor in things. Probably should have found a way to incorporate that into the paper! Good observation!

  5. Well writen group! I went into this blog thinking right off the bat about how much I hate when I come across family guy on tv. I pass it by every time because I never liked the crude humor of it. I can't even remeber when, but years ago I passed it on tv and was offended and ever since then have hated the show. After reading you essay I must say that next time I pass it on tv I will stop and watch with an open mind for a while. Great job at changing my opinion about the ideas behind family guy.

  6. I like how you included the Family Guy clip, I thought this was a nice addition to your posting. The posting was done very well, the writing was great and it had good responses to the other authors points. I also liked how you ended with the Family Guy cancellation info. On a personal note this reminds me of watching the show when it first came out and how it was pretty amazing that it made it back on the air after being cancelled multiple times.

  7. Hey Tara - don't feel bad about not liking Family Guy! Even after doing this assignment, I refuse to watch it! :) It did make me think twice about why I dislike that show so much, so the article did impact me in that way. Even though there might be "good messages" behind it's content, it's still not my kind of humor. To each their own, right!? Thanks for your comment!