If I said that it was funny, nobody would be amazed, because that’s obvious to everybody but Sarah Palin and Il Papa. If I said it was entertaining, I’d get a mixed bag of responses, but most would agree. Today I put to you, ladies and gentlemen, a more difficult argument: That Family Guy – as well as being one of the finest comedies, animated or not, to grace the air – is also a surprisingly moving drama, following in the footsteps of such greats as All In The Family.
One can bring to mind many, many episodes with a moving line, situation, or plot element. Enumerating each one, however, would soon prove repetitious and boring. So instead I shall use as an exemplar the most recent episode, called ‘Jerome Is The New Black’. I hope I won’t give spoilers, but be warned anyway. If you haven’t seen it, hie thyself off to Hulu and do so before reading this. This is not a review.
In this episode, we face issues of latent racism, the cultural bias in our country (and many others) against inter-racial sex, and the conundrum of what to do when someone truly loathes everything you are.
The central theme is the search for a new friend to take Cleveland’s place. When Brian asks to join the group, Peter simply responds that Quagmire hates Brian’s guts.
Brian spends the entire episode trying to get Quagmire to like him. He eventually corners Quagmire, pressing for an explanation, since Quagmire’s feelings are obviously not going to change. What follows is one of the most brutally honest tear-downs of a character’s perceived and objective flaws that I have ever seen.
What’s better, it rang true. The audience is moved not only to hurt with Brian, but to agree with Quagmire, which makes the audience hurt all the more. It was truly impressive, a stunning piece of writing I can only wish I had written first – the best compliment a writer can give.
I will not repeat what Quagmire said here. It is far, far better for you to hear it as part of the narrative whole, and judge for yourselves. I sincerely invite your comments after having done so, so long as they aren’t flames about the series. Whether you like the series isn’t what I’m interested in. Simply put, I want to know what you think of that particular scene – the lines, the acting, and so on. How did it make you feel? was the scene (not the series, not even the episode) good? Why?
I hope to hear from you all soon!