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Family Guy Hits Horrible New Low With Domestic Abuse Episode

What the fuck, Family Guy. Personally, I'm way beyond being offended by the show — I've long been numbed to shock-value offensiveness — and had stopped watching years ago anyhow. But being a sucker for a Halloween-themed episodes, I tuned in to Fox's "animation domination" comedy block last night. What I saw was seriously awful.

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In this episode, we're introduced to Quagmire's little sister, Brenda, and Lois expresses her concern over Brenda's abusive boyfriend, Jeff: "She's still with him? Isn't he the one that beats her?" and Peter replies, "Yeah, but she's gotten a lot better." This is just the first of many, many disgusting non-jokes.

The episode only gets worse from there. Quagmire begs Lois to talk to his sister about the problem, but Peter butts in, "Well, let's hope she's good at talking because we know she doesn't listen so good." When Quagmire asks Joe, a police officer, if there is anything in his power that he can do to stop the violence, he responds, "Sorry — police policy is that we can't step in until it's too late." Instead, Joe suggests an intervention, in which Quagmire reads a letter to his beloved little sister that goes something like this:

The person I see before me right now is just a punching bag. And I call you "person," not "woman," because a woman is a strong, beautiful vibrant creature. Sadly, the fact that you are with Jeff proves to me that you have made a choice to make your life worse.

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The intervention ends when Jeff shows up and the couple announces that they're having a baby and getting married — but as Brenda says, "I'd show you the ring, but it's under this splint."

And the "humor" is limited to the aforementioned one-liners; we've got Jeff violently dragging Brenda into another room, offscreen, where we can hear the physical abuse.

This isn't a PSA or an after-school special; this is the fucking Family Guy. But given that this loathsome episode pegged itself to a very serious problem, you'd think maybe at the end they'd flash a hotline number or something. You'd be wrong.

Definitely the scariest Halloween special we've ever seen.

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DISCUSSION

AndPreciousLittleofThat
AndPreciousLittleofThat

I saw this comment in another discussion about the episode, and it bears repeating. If I knew how to link it directly, I would, but instead you'll have to settle for my warmed-over agreement.

Family Guy takes great pride in mocking traditional narrative structure and deflating otherwise meaningful, emotional moments. For them to suddenly switch to playing it straight, especially about something as melodramatic and sensitive as domestic violence, is a complete cop-out.

Seth MacFarlane has gone on the record saying that he wishes Family Guy were over. I say we should give him what he's asking for.