For the past couple of years, Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy has been on its deathbed. Vice, as well as many other news outlets, have said the show should be kept in the morgue. It’s quite possible that Seth MacFarlane heard this criticism, got back to work, and made the show relevant again. The past two episodes of Family Guy are not only two of the best episodes of the show’s entire run, but they are also two of the best episodes of any television show this year.
The episode Dog Bites Bear, which aired on January 11, is surprising, and it wasn’t because of its humor. It’s literally one of the most tear-jerking things on television this year. It’s almost as sad as watching Jack die on This is Us. This Family Guy episode dealt with death, but not the kind you think. In this episode, Stewie’s favorite teddy bear, Rupert, gets chewed up by Brian, who Stewie accuses of murder.
At first, one is led to believe that Brian was just doing what dogs always do. But the episode reveals that Brian knew what he was doing and killed the bear because he is jealous that this stuffed animal, which isn’t even alive, is taking up all of Stewie’s attention. At first, Brian is shocked that Stewie is acting like a family member has been murdered. However, he soon becomes sensitive to Stewie’s feelings and follows him to Vermont up a mountain to scatter Stewie’s ashes.
On the way up the mountain, both reveal their true feelings to each other. Stewie reveals that he’s afraid to get too attached to Brian anymore because in the not-so-distant future, Brian will be crossing that rainbow bridge. The two bond together again, and their bond is stronger than ever. The episode was heartbreaking for anybody who has recently lost their favorite pet. It showed how strong the bond between kids and pets are. It’s almost like Marley and Me, but without the dog being put to sleep.
Don’t worry, the ending won’t be revealed here. But let’s just say that even if you are not a Family Guy fan, you’ll likely cry after the final scene. You will also be shocked on how sincere the writing of this episode was. Of course, the show never needed sincerity to succeed. But it does feel good after 16 seasons.
Last week’s episode, “Send in Stewie, Please,” continues Seth MacFarlane’s love of vulgar shock — but it is actually humorous (in a very dark way) this time when we see Stewie let his psychologist die of a heart attack without helping him. It ends up that he saves Dr. Pritchfield (voiced by Ian McKellen) from receiving some awful heartbreaking news.
Stewie’s conversation with Dr. Pritchfield about his insecurities, fears, and hangups makes the viewer analyze themselves. It’s quite interesting how Stewie soon becomes the psychologist who analyzes Pritchfield. Through this, we learn that everybody has their issues, even rich doctors. The conversation also deals with relationships in the LGBT community; Dr. Pritchfield is involved with a much younger boyfriend. How does their relationship work? Perhaps, it doesn’t. And Stewie makes Pritchfield realize this.
Stewie reveals more of himself to Pritchfield than he has ever shown to anyone else. So, when the doctor is having a heart attack and needs his medicine, Stewie realizes he has a way out; he ignores Pritchfield’s request to hand him his pills. In writing, this may seem cruel. In the context of the show, however, you realize that Stewie is doing both himself and the doctor a favor.
Seth MacFarlane and his team are, once again, on top of their game. This time, the game may not be crude humor, humor that has become stale. Instead, Family Guy is now all about making us examine ourselves and how we react to others. Keep up the great work, Mr. MacFarlane!