The Simpsons and Family Guy, overall, represent how creative television can get. Both of these shows have displayed amazing writing, creative and relevant characters, and have proven that cartoons aren’t just for kids (well, especially Family Guy). However, both shows have severely faltered in 2015 and are in danger of destroying their own legacy.
Let’s first talk about The Simpsons — perhaps the best television show ever made. However, the show has been going downhill for several years and, perhaps, 2015 was the final nail in the coffin. The fact that The Simpsons is becoming intolerable was made most apparent during the episode “Every Man’s Dream.” Jesse Schedeen of IGN described why the episode was so bad.
“This episode wasn’t just redundant, it operated on flimsy logic, mostly ignored Marge and seemed to have no problem with the idea of Homer shacking up with another woman. Worse, none of those problems even mattered in the end, because the whole thing proved to be one elaborate, pointless dream sequence.”
This could describe the problem with just about every new episode of The Simpsons. The show is trying to recapture its successful plots from the past and failing miserably. At one point in the series, all characters — even with their flaws — were likable. The characters still have their flaws, but they have become such a cliche that they are no longer likable.
In the late 1990s, Seth MacFarlane took everything that was wonderful about The Simpsons and upped the controversy to the max with Family Guy. While kids could still watch The Simpsons, parents instantly found out that it’s best to watch Family Guy without the children. That’s what made the show so successful — Family Guy never had to worry about crossing any boundaries. However, the show has now crossed the boundary of irrelevancy.
The multiple storylines in each episode don’t work. Instead of two separate stories that culminate into one complete episode, we are left with complete episodes with incomplete and underdeveloped story lines. Family Guy used to be able to get away with its gross jokes because they were always part of a larger societal issue. Now, the show has become grotesque just for the purpose of being grotesque.
Like The Simpsons, Family Guy has also become unoriginal. The most obvious example of this is in the recent episode “Peternormal Activity,” where Peter and his friends decide to write a horror story, but they soon become characters in a horror story themselves. It’s understandable that Seth MacFarlane was desperate to create a Halloween-themed episode, but couldn’t he and his writers come up with something slightly more original?
The most recent episode, “A Shot In The Dark,” was supposed to make a statement about racism and gun control. Family Guy has been an expert in tackling hot-button issues and making fun of them — but these episodes also made people think and laugh at the same time. This particular episode makes you think, but it doesn’t entertain you at all. Family Guy has lost the formula that has made it work for so many years.
Perhaps the creators of both The Simpsons and Family Guy should look at what Trey Parker and Matt Stone are doing with South Park, a show that has been completely revitalized this season. After a couple of seasons that weren’t well-received, South Park went back to creating new and outrageous characters while creating entertaining plots relevant to the current issues.
Unfortunately, The Simpsons has been renewed for another season while the status of Family Guy is unknown. Perhaps fans can just keep watching old episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy on Netflix to remember how relevant both of these shows used to be.
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