Saturday, July 10, 2004

Never thought you'd be so condescending

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane talks to the NYT about both that show's return and Fox's picking up of his second animated series: [Family Guy] will be preceded on the air by "American Dad," another animated show created by Mr. MacFarlane, who now employs a staff of about 100, most in their 20's. This new series involves a conservative agent with the Central Intelligence Agency; his ultra-liberal daughter; a sarcastic, campy space alien with a voice like that of the comic actor Paul Lynde; and a lascivious, German-speaking goldfish, the result of a C.I.A. experiment gone wrong. Objectively, this sounds terrible. But, then, so does a sitcom about a sassy robot, out of context, so I'll try to give it a chance, despite MacFarlane's awful Paul Lynde impression. It also sounds suspiciously like the hackneyed Odd Couple setup in FG episode 3ACX09, "To Live and Die in Dixie:" FBI Agent #1: "Jenkins and I have been assigned to watch your house, even though he's a slovenly liberal and I'm a fastidious conservative." FBI Agent #2: "I smell a sitcom!" ...Which implies that MacFarlane and associates have forgotten that yes, that was a silly and too-obvious-by-half stereotype of a scenario when they parodied it; it's not going to be any less so if done earnestly. What I find most annoying, however, is the intent behind American Dad: "My friends and I spent half our time complaining about President Bush, and we figured, why don't we channel our anger into something creative," he said. "The idea was to do a current-day `All in the Family' that would be more political than `Family Guy,' with some attempt to balance the two sides as much as possible, which is difficult for us." Sweet Gorilla of Manila. If there's one thing Family Guy isn't, it's subtle. I fear an overtly political show from the same writers and producers is going to be so ham-handed and obnoxious as to be unwatchable. Yes, balance is kind of difficult if you start from the position of spending half your day-to-day life vociferously angry at George Bush. What I'm also curious about is exactly what MacFarlane means by that. As the same article notes, only a travel agent's scheduling error and a hangover kept him from being killed on 9/11. I don't know about anyone else, but regardless of politics, I think I would take from such a near-brush with death a terrible apprehension of the need for the war we now fight; look at, for example, blogger Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine - as socially liberal as could be, but dramatically changed by the experience nonetheless. Or might he be a liberal hawk in the Andrew Sullivan mould, understanding of the need for the War on Terror but angry about the president's attitudes on social issues and big-spending fiscal policies? Without further clarification, it's impossible to say, but somehow I doubt it. I suspect that despite personally looking into the abyss, as it were, MacFarlane doesn't really take the notions of terrorism or the war seriously...but, then, we'll have to wait for American Dad's premiere to find out for certain, won't we. (Via TV Tattle.)

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