In today’s issue of the Tufts Daily, I have my second piece in a four-part series investigating the current state of network television comedy. I’m taking a network by network approach, and today’s focus is on Fox.
Just as CBS has become the Chuck Lorre laugh factory, Fox serves the same function for Seth MacFarlane. His three series, “Family Guy,” “American Dad!” and “The Cleveland Show,” are the bedrock of the network’s Sunday night Animation Domination lineup, and at this point often draw more viewers than Fox’s other signature animated show, “The Simpsons.”
As with CBS, though, popularity is not necessarily a measure of quality. MacFarlane’s shows have proven immensely profitable for him and for Fox, but have done so largely by appealing to the lowest common denominator, with cheap humor, gross-out gags and little-to-no character development.
“Family Guy,” when it first premiered in 1999, seemed revolutionary in its use of cutaway gags and pop-culture jokes. Low ratings actually got it canceled in 2002, though, until strong DVD sales and a successful string of reruns on Cartoon Network led Fox to revive the show in 2005 — an unprecedented move in network television. The post-revival episodes have certainly made some improvements, especially in terms of animation quality, but, overall, have come to rely more and more on easy references and jokes, at the expense of any greater depth.
You can read the full article here.