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Family Guy is heading into its eighteenth season on the air this year. It’s had some brief gaps in that time, and thanks to its origins back in 1999, technically the animated series has been around for all of the 21st century. Which means creator Seth MacFarlane has had plenty of time to go back and look at how early episodes were handled and what he would change.
When asked at Comic-Con 2019 how Family Guy would be different if it was just starting now, Seth MacFarlane noted the show would likely have to do things differently this time around.
There would probably be no jokes. I think in the age of Twitter we’d be a lot more careful than we were at the beginning.
However, it was also noted the Fox animated series gets away with more risqué or towing-the-line jokes than other comedies often do. Does MacFarlane know why? He has a hypothesis, but he still thinks if Family Guy were a brand new show on the network, right meow, it would be updated to “reflect the times.’
Do we? We do, we tend to [get away with a lot]. I think animation sort of exists in its own bubble universe that is so far removed from reality. You know, Peter Griffin is not real, so it’s kind of hard to go after him. So, it’s a strange beast that’s still kind of living outside the rules of proper society. I think if we did it today, I think there would be some changes that would reflect the times.
Alex Borstein also chimed in, noting, ‘Like casting? Neither of us would be here Mike,’ referring to Mike Henry, who voices African American character Cleveland Brown in both Family Guy and its now-cancelled spinoff The Cleveland Show. While Borstein voices Lois Griffin, she also has voiced characters of different races like Tricia Takanawa and Loretta Brown.
In the past, Seth MacFarlane has spoken out about some of the “protections” animation has simply because it is putting jokes into the mouths of characters who don’t actually exist as real people. Sure, Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry, Mila Kunis, Seth Green and Patrick Warburton are all real people, but you don’t necessarily correlate them with Peter Griffin, Lois Griffin, Cleveland Brown, Meg Griffin, Chris Griffin and Joe Swanson in the same way you see Kevin Hart on the big screen when he’s playing a comedic character.
Honestly, outside of Hart playing “Fridge” inside “Moose Finbar” in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, I’m not sure there’s another Kevin Hart character I could flat out name. So, this point really makes sense and holds up in a lot of ways.
I digress. The point is, in some ways, Family Guy has changed and grown over time in order to stay relevant on network TV and with fans. (Although I’m sure it helps that even though numbers are down across the board on TV, animated shows are cheaper to produce than other TV content.) If Seth MacFarlane were doing it all over now, sure, he’d make some changes, but it’s also true that it’s the choices the show made early on that led it to be where it is now and even led to a movie being planned.
Catch Family Guy when it returns to the schedule this fall, only on Fox. And be sure to check out what else is coming with our full TV premiere schedule.