Family Guy is an American animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; their children, Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their anthropomorphic pet dog, Brian. The show is set in the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island, and exhibits much of its humor in the form of metafictional cutaway gags that often lampoon American culture.
|Created by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Theme music composer||Walter Murphy|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||16|
|No. of episodes||309 (list of episodes)|
|Camera setup||Animated rendition of single-camera|
|Original network||Fox[N 1]|
|Original release||January 31, 1999– present|
|Preceded by||Larry & Steve|
|Related shows||The Cleveland Show|
The family was conceived by MacFarlane after developing two animated films, The Life of Larry and Larry & Steve. MacFarlane redesigned the films' protagonist, Larry, and his dog, Steve, and renamed them Peter and Brian, respectively. MacFarlane pitched a seven-minute pilot to Fox in 1998, and the show was greenlit and began production. Shortly after the third season of Family Guy had aired in 2002, Fox canceled the series with one episode left unaired. Adult Swim aired that episode in 2003, finishing the series' original run. However, favorable DVD sales and high ratings for syndicated reruns on Adult Swim convinced the network to renew the show in 2004 for a fourth season, which began airing on May 1, 2005.
Since its debut on January 31, 1999, 309 episodes of Family Guy have been broadcast. Its sixteenth season began on October 1, 2017. Family Guy has been nominated for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards and 11 Annie Awards, and has won three of each. In 2009, it was nominated for an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, the first time an animated series was nominated for the award since The Flintstones in 1961. Family Guy has also received criticism, including unfavorable comparisons to The Simpsons.
Many tie-in media have been released, including Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, a straight-to-DVD special released in 2005; Family Guy: Live in Vegas, a soundtrack-DVD combo released in 2005, featuring music from the show as well as original music created by MacFarlane and Walter Murphy; a video game and pinball machine, released in 2006 and 2007, respectively; since 2005, six books published by Harper Adult based on the Family Guy universe; and Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy (2010), a series of parodies of the original Star Wars trilogy. In 2008, MacFarlane confirmed that the cast was interested in producing a feature film and that he was working on a story for a film adaptation.
A spin-off series, The Cleveland Show, featuring Cleveland Brown, aired from September 27, 2009, to May 19, 2013. "The Simpsons Guy", a crossover episode with The Simpsons, aired on September 28, 2014. Family Guy is a joint production by Fuzzy Door Productions and 20th Century Fox Television and syndicated by 20th Television. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Family Guy the ninth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time.
On May 12, 2018, Fox renewed the series for a seventeenth season, which will premiere on September 30, 2018.
The show revolves around the adventures of the Griffin family, consisting of father Peter Griffin, a bumbling yet well-intentioned blue-collar worker; Lois, a pretty stay-at-home mother and piano teacher who is a member of the wealthy Pewterschmidt family; Meg, their often-bullied teenage daughter who is also constantly ridiculed or ignored by the family; Chris, their awkward teenage son, who is overweight, unintelligent and, in many respects, is simply a younger version of his father; and Stewie, their diabolical infant son of ambiguous sexual orientation who has adult mannerisms and uses stereotypical archvillain phrases. Living with the family is their witty, smoking, martini-swilling, sarcastic, English-speaking anthropomorphic dog Brian, though he is still considered a pet in many ways.
Recurring characters appear alongside the Griffin family. These include the family's neighbors: sex-crazed airline pilot bachelor Quagmire; African-American deli owner Cleveland and his wife Loretta (later Donna); paraplegic police officer Joe, his wife Bonnie, their son Kevin and their baby daughter Susie; neurotic Jewish pharmacist Mort, his wife Muriel, and their geeky and annoying son Neil; and elderly child molester Herbert. TV news anchors Tom Tucker and Diane Simmons, Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa, and Blaccu-Weather meteorologist Ollie Williams also make frequent appearances. Actors Adam West and James Woods guest star as themselves in various episodes.
The primary setting of Family Guy is Quahog (// [pron. ko-hog or kwo-hog]), a fictional district of Providence, Rhode Island that was founded by Peter's ancestor, Griffin Peterson. MacFarlane resided in Providence during his time as a student at Rhode Island School of Design, and the show contains distinct Rhode Island landmarks similar to real-world locations. MacFarlane often borrows the names of Rhode Island locations and icons such as Pawtucket and Buddy Cianci for use in the show. MacFarlane, in an interview with a news program on WNAC-TV, Channel 64 in Providence, stated that the town is modeled after Cranston, Rhode Island.
MacFarlane initially conceived Family Guy in 1995 while studying animation at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). During college, he created his thesis film entitled The Life of Larry, which was submitted by his professor at RISD to Hanna-Barbera. MacFarlane was hired by the company. In 1996 MacFarlane created a sequel to The Life of Larry entitled Larry and Steve, which featured a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve; the short was broadcast in 1997 as one of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons.
Executives at Fox saw the Larry shorts and contracted MacFarlane to create a series, entitled Family Guy, based on the characters. Fox proposed MacFarlane complete a 15-minute short, and gave him a budget of $50,000. Several aspects of Family Guy were inspired by the Larry shorts. While he worked on the series, the characters of Larry and his dog Steve slowly evolved into Peter and Brian. MacFarlane stated that the difference between The Life of Larry and Family Guy was that "Life of Larry was shown primarily in my dorm room and Family Guy was shown after the Super Bowl." After the pilot aired, the series was given the green light. MacFarlane drew inspiration from several sitcoms such as The Simpsons and All in the Family. Premises were drawn from several 1980s Saturday morning cartoons he watched as a child, such as The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang and Rubik, the Amazing Cube.
The Griffin family first appeared on the demo that MacFarlane pitched to Fox on May 15, 1998. Family Guy was originally planned to start out as short movies for the sketch show MADtv, but the plan changed because MADtv's budget was not large enough to support animation production. MacFarlane noted that he then wanted to pitch it to Fox, as he thought that that was the place to create a prime-time animation show. Family Guy was originally pitched to Fox in the same year as King of the Hill, but the show was not bought until years later, when King of the Hill became successful. Fox ordered 13 episodes of Family Guy to air in midseason after MacFarlane impressed executives with a seven-minute demo.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Viewers|
|1||7||January 31, 1999||May 16, 1999||33||12.80|
|2||21||September 23, 1999||August 1, 2000||114||6.32|
|3||22||July 11, 2001||November 9, 2003[a]||125||4.50|
|4||30||May 1, 2005||May 21, 2006||68||7.90|
|5||18||September 10, 2006||May 20, 2007||71||7.20|
|6||12||September 23, 2007||May 4, 2008||84||7.94|
|7||16||September 28, 2008||May 17, 2009||69||7.56|
|8||21||September 27, 2009||June 20, 2010[b]||53||7.73|
|9||18||September 26, 2010||May 22, 2011||56||7.66|
|10||23||September 25, 2011||May 20, 2012||63||7.30|
|11||22||September 30, 2012||May 19, 2013||62||6.94|
|12||21||September 29, 2013||May 18, 2014||78||6.11|
|13||18||September 28, 2014||May 17, 2015||94||5.86|
|14||20||September 27, 2015||May 22, 2016||111||4.28|
|15||20||September 25, 2016||May 21, 2017||116||3.93|
|16||20||October 1, 2017||May 20, 2018||136||3.52|
|17||TBA||September 30, 2018||TBA||TBA||TBA|
- Season 3 officially ended on February 14, 2002. Episode 22 was first released on DVD before making its first broadcast on Adult Swim.
- Season 8 officially ended on May 23, 2010. Episode 21 was first broadcast on BBC Three in the UK on June 20, 2010 before debuting in the US on DVD on September 28, 2010.
MacFarlane has served as an executive producer during the show's entire history. The first executive producers were David Zuckerman, Lolee Aries, David Pritchard, and Mike Wolf. Family Guy has had many executive producers in its history, including Daniel Palladino, Kara Vallow, and Danny Smith. David A. Goodman joined the show as a co-executive producer in season three, and eventually became an executive producer. Alex Borstein, who voices Lois, worked as an executive and supervising producer for the fourth and fifth seasons.
The first team of writers assembled for the show consisted of Chris Sheridan, Danny Smith, Gary Janetti, Ricky Blitt, Neil Goldman, Garrett Donovan, Matt Weitzman, and Mike Barker. The writing process of Family Guy generally starts with 14 writers that take turns writing the scripts; when a script is finished it is given to the rest of the writers to read. These scripts generally include cutaway gags. Various gags are pitched to MacFarlane and the rest of the staff, and those deemed funniest are included in the episode. MacFarlane has explained that normally it takes 10 months to produce an episode because the show uses hand-drawn animation. The show rarely comments on current events for this reason. The show's initial writers had never written for an animated show; and most came from live-action sitcoms.
MacFarlane explains that he is a fan of 1930s and 1940s radio programs, particularly the radio thriller anthology "Suspense", which led him to give early episodes ominous titles like "Death Has a Shadow" and "Mind Over Murder". MacFarlane explained that the team dropped the naming convention after individual episodes became hard to identify, and the novelty wore off. For the first few months of production, the writers shared one office, lent to them by the King of the Hill production crew.
Credited with 19 episodes, Steve Callaghan is the most prolific writer on Family Guy staff. Many of the writers that have left the show have gone on to create or produce other successful series. Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan co-wrote 13 episodes for the NBC sitcom Scrubs during their eight-year run on the show, while also serving as co-producers and working their way up to executive producers. Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman left the show and went on to create the long-running and still ongoing adult animated series American Dad! MacFarlane is also a co-creator of American Dad! On November 4, 2013, it was announced that Barker had departed American Dad! during its run as well, after 10 seasons of serving as producer and co-showrunner over the series.
During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, official production of the show halted for most of December 2007 and for various periods afterward. Fox continued producing episodes without MacFarlane's final approval, which he termed "a colossal dick move" in an interview with Variety. Though MacFarlane refused to work on the show, his contract under Fox required him to contribute to any episodes it would subsequently produce. Production officially resumed after the end of the strike, with regularly airing episodes recommencing on February 17, 2008. According to MacFarlane, in 2009, it costs about $2 million to make an episode of Family Guy.
Early history and cancellation
Family Guy officially premiered after Fox's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIII on January 31, 1999, with "Death Has a Shadow". The show debuted to 22 million viewers, and immediately generated controversy regarding its adult content. The show returned on April 11, 1999, with "I Never Met the Dead Man". Family Guy garnered decent ratings in Fox's 8:30 pm slot on Sunday, scheduled between The Simpsons and The X-Files. At the end of its first season, the show ranked at #33 in the Nielsen ratings, with 12.8 million households tuning in. The show launched its second season in a new time slot, Thursday at 9 pm, on September 23, 1999. Family Guy was pitted against NBC's Frasier, and the series' ratings declined sharply. Subsequently, Fox removed Family Guy from its schedule, and began airing episodes irregularly. The show returned on March 7, 2000, at 8:30 pm on Tuesdays, where it was constantly beaten in the ratings by ABC's then-new breakout hit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, coming in at #114 in the Nielsen ratings with 6.32 million households tuning in. Fox announced that the show had been canceled in May 2000, at the end of the second season. However, following a last-minute reprieve, on July 24, 2000, Fox ordered 13 additional episodes of Family Guy to form a third season.
The show returned November 8, 2001, once again in a tough time slot: Thursday nights at 8:00 pm ET; this slot brought it into competition with Survivor and Friends (a situation that was later referenced in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story). During its second and third seasons, Fox frequently moved the show around to different days and time slots with little or no notice and, consequently, the show's ratings suffered. Upon Fox's annual unveiling of its 2002 fall line-up on May 15, 2002, Family Guy was absent. Fox announced that the show had been officially canceled shortly thereafter.
Cult success and revival
Fox attempted to sell the rights for reruns of the show, but finding networks that were interested was difficult; Cartoon Network eventually bought the rights, "[...] basically for free", according to the president of 20th Century Fox Television. Family Guy premiered in reruns on Adult Swim on April 20, 2003, and immediately became the block's top-rated program, dominating late-night viewing in its time period versus cable and broadcast competition, and boosting viewership by 239%. The complete first and second seasons were released on DVD the same week the show premiered on Adult Swim, and the show became a cult phenomenon, selling 400,000 copies within one month. Sales of the DVD set reached 2.2 million copies, becoming the best-selling television DVD of 2003 and the second-highest-selling television DVD ever, behind the first season of Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show. The third-season DVD release also sold more than a million copies. The show's popularity in DVD sales and reruns rekindled Fox's interest, and, on May 20, 2004, Fox ordered 35 new episodes of Family Guy, marking the first revival of a television show based on DVD sales.
"North by North Quahog", which premiered May 1, 2005, was the first episode to be broadcast after the show's hiatus. It was written by MacFarlane and directed by Peter Shin. MacFarlane believed the show's three-year hiatus was beneficial because animated shows do not normally have hiatuses, and towards the end of their seasons, "... you see a lot more sex jokes and bodily function jokes and signs of a fatigued staff that their brains are just fried". With "North by North Quahog", the writing staff tried to keep the show "[...] exactly as it was" before its cancellation, and "None of us had any desire to make it look any slicker". The episode was watched by 11.85 million viewers, the show's highest ratings since the airing of the first season episode "Brian: Portrait of a Dog".
In March 2007 comedian Carol Burnett filed a $6 million lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming that her charwoman cartoon character had been portrayed on the show without her permission. She stated it was a trademark infringement, and that Fox violated her publicity rights. On June 4, 2007, United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson rejected the lawsuit, stating that the parody was protected under the First Amendment, citing Hustler Magazine v. Falwell as a precedent.
On October 3, 2007, Bourne Co. Music Publishers filed a lawsuit accusing the show of infringing its copyright on the song "When You Wish Upon a Star", through a parody song entitled "I Need a Jew" appearing in the episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein". Bourne Co., the sole United States copyright owner of the song, alleged the parody pairs a "thinly veiled" copy of its music with antisemitic lyrics. Named in the suit were 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting Co., Cartoon Network, MacFarlane and Murphy; the suit sought to stop the program's distribution and asked for unspecified damages. Bourne argued that "I Need a Jew" uses the copyrighted melody of "When You Wish Upon a Star" without commenting on that song, and that it was therefore not a First Amendment-protected parody per the ruling in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. On March 16, 2009, United States District Judge Deborah Batts held that Family Guy did not infringe on Bourne's copyright when it transformed the song for comical use in an episode.
In December 2007, Family Guy was again accused of copyright infringement when actor Art Metrano filed a lawsuit regarding a scene in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, in which Jesus performs Metrano's signature "magic" act involving absurd "faux" magical hand gestures while humming the distinctive tune "Fine and Dandy". 20th Century Fox, MacFarlane, Callaghan and Borstein were all named in the suit. In July 2009 a federal district court judge rejected Fox's motion to dismiss, saying that the first three fair use factors involved — "purpose and character of the use", "nature of the infringed work" and "amount and substantiality of the taking" — counted in Metrano's favor, while the fourth — "economic impact" — had to await more fact-finding. In denying the dismissal, the court held that the reference in the scene made light of Jesus and his followers — not Metrano or his act. The case was settled out of court in 2010 with undisclosed terms.
Seth MacFarlane voices three of the show's main characters: Peter Griffin, Brian Griffin, and Stewie Griffin. Since MacFarlane had a strong vision for these characters, he chose to voice them himself, believing it would be easier than for someone else to attempt it. MacFarlane drew inspiration for the voice of Peter from a security guard he overheard talking while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Stewie's voice was based on the voice of English actor Rex Harrison, especially his performance in the 1964 musical drama film My Fair Lady. MacFarlane uses his regular speaking voice when playing Brian. MacFarlane also provides the voices for various other recurring and one-time-only characters, most prominently those of the Griffins' neighbor Glenn Quagmire, news anchor Tom Tucker, and Lois' father, Carter Pewterschmidt.
Alex Borstein voices Peter's wife Lois Griffin, Asian correspondent Tricia Takanawa, Loretta Brown, and Lois' mother, Barbara Pewterschmidt. Borstein was asked to provide a voice for the pilot while she was working on MADtv. She had not met MacFarlane or seen any of his artwork, and said it was "really sight unseen". At the time, Borstein was performing in a stage show in Los Angeles. She played a redheaded mother whose voice she had based on one of her cousins.
Seth Green primarily voices Chris Griffin and Neil Goldman. Green stated that he did an impression of the character Buffalo Bill from the thriller film The Silence of the Lambs during his audition.
Mila Kunis and Lacey Chabert have both voiced Meg Griffin. Chabert left the series because of time conflicts with schoolwork and her role on Party of Five. When Kunis auditioned for the role, she was called back by MacFarlane, who instructed her to speak slower. He then told her to come back another time and enunciate more. Once she claimed that she had it under control, MacFarlane hired her.
Mike Henry voices Cleveland Brown, Herbert, Bruce the Performance Artist, Consuela and the Greased-up Deaf Guy. Henry met MacFarlane at the Rhode Island School of Design, and kept in touch with him after they graduated. A few years later, MacFarlane contacted him about being part of the show; he agreed and came on as a writer and voice actor. During the show's first four seasons, he was credited as a guest star, but beginning with season five's "Prick Up Your Ears", he has been credited as a main cast member.
Other recurring cast members include Patrick Warburton as Joe Swanson; Jennifer Tilly as Bonnie Swanson; John G. Brennan as Mort Goldman and Horace the bartender; Carlos Alazraqui as Jonathan Weed; Adam Carolla and Norm Macdonald as Death; Lori Alan as Diane Simmons; and Phil LaMarr as Ollie Williams and the judge. Fellow cartoonist Butch Hartman has made guest voice appearances in many episodes as various characters. Also, writer Danny Smith voices various recurring characters, such as Ernie the Giant Chicken. Alexandra Breckenridge also appears as many various characters. Adam West appeared as the eponymous Mayor Adam West, until his death in 2017.
Episodes often feature guest voices from a wide range of professions, including actors, athletes, authors, bands, musicians, and scientists. Many guest voices star as themselves. Leslie Uggams was the first to appear as herself, in the fourth episode of the first season, "Mind Over Murder". The episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" guest starred the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Wil Wheaton, Marina Sirtis, and even Denise Crosby (season 1 as Tasha Yar), playing themselves; this is the episode with the most guest stars of the seventh season.
"Road to" episodes
The "Road to" episodes are a series of hallmark travel episodes. They are a parody of the seven Road to... comedy films starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. These episodes have always involved Stewie and Brian in some foreign, supernatural or science-fiction location, unrelated to the show's normal location in Quahog. The first, entitled "Road to Rhode Island", aired on May 30, 2000, during the second season. The episodes are known for featuring elaborate musical numbers, similar to the Road films. The episodes contain several trademarks, including a special version of the opening sequence, custom musical cues and musical numbers, and parodies of science fiction and fantasy films.
The original idea for the "Road to" episodes came from MacFarlane, as he is a fan of the films of Crosby, Hope and Lamour. The first episode was directed by Dan Povenmire, who would direct the rest of the "Road to" episodes until the episode "Road to Rupert", at which point he had left the show to create Phineas and Ferb. Series regular Greg Colton then took over Povenmire's role as director of the "Road to" episodes.
The "Road to" episodes are generally considered by critics and fans to be some of the greatest in the series, thanks to the developing relationship between Stewie and Brian, and the strong plotlines of the episodes themselves.
Family Guy uses the filmmaking technique of cutaways, which occur in the majority of Family Guy episodes. Emphasis is often placed on gags which make reference to current events and/or modern cultural icons.
Early episodes based much of their comedy on Stewie's "super villain" antics, such as his constant plans for total world domination, his evil experiments, plans and inventions to get rid of things he dislikes, and his constant attempts at matricide. As the series progressed, the writers and MacFarlane agreed that his personality and the jokes were starting to feel dated, so they began writing him with a different personality. Family Guy often includes self-referential humor. The most common form is jokes about Fox Broadcasting, and occasions where the characters break the fourth wall by addressing the audience. For example, in "North by North Quahog", the first episode that aired after the show's revival, included Peter telling the family that they had been canceled because Fox had to make room in their schedule for shows like Dark Angel, Titus, Undeclared, Action, That '80s Show, Wonderfalls, Fastlane, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Skin, Girls Club, Cracking Up, The Pitts, Firefly, Get Real, Freakylinks, Wanda at Large, Costello, The Lone Gunmen, A Minute with Stan Hooper, Normal, Ohio, Pasadena, Harsh Realm, Keen Eddie, The $treet, The American Embassy, Cedric the Entertainer Presents, The Tick, Luis, and Greg the Bunny. Lois asks whether there is any hope, to which Peter replies that if all these shows are canceled they might have a chance; the shows were indeed canceled during Family Guy's hiatus.
The show uses catchphrases, and most of the primary and secondary characters have them. Notable expressions include Quagmire's "Giggity giggity goo", Peter's "Freakin' sweet", Cleveland's "Oh, that's nasty", and Joe's "Bring it on!" The use of many of these catchphrases declined in later seasons. The episode "Big Man on Hippocampus" mocks catchphrase-based humor: when Peter, who has forgotten everything about his life, is introduced to Meg, he exclaims "D'oh!", to which Lois replies, "No, Peter, that's not your catchphrase."
Reception and legacy
In 2016, a New York Times study of the 50 TV shows with the most Facebook Likes found that like other satirical comedies, Family Guy "is most popular in cities. The show's popularity was more correlated with support for Hillary Clinton than any other show". As of 2008, the franchise has generated $1 billion in total revenue, including $400 million from TV syndication, $400 million from DVD sales, and $200 million from merchandise sales.
|Season||Episodes||Time slot (ET)||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Overall ratings|
|1||7||Sunday 8:30 PM||January 31, 1999||22.01||May 16, 1999||N/A||1998–99||33||12.80|
|2||21||Thursday 9:00 PM||September 23, 1999||N/A||August 1, 2000||N/A||1999–2000||114||6.32|
|3||22||Thursday 8:00 PM||July 11, 2001||N/A||November 9, 2003||N/A||2001–02||125||4.50|
|4||30||Sunday 9:00 PM||May 1, 2005||11.85||May 21, 2006||7.88||2005–06||68||7.90|
|5||18||September 10, 2006||9.93||May 20, 2007||9.15||2006–07||71||7.20|
|6||12||September 23, 2007||10.86||May 4, 2008||7.68||2007–08||84||7.94|
|7||16||September 28, 2008||9.20||May 17, 2009||7.33||2008–09||69||7.56|
|8||21||September 27, 2009||10.17||June 20, 2010||6.13||2009–10||53||7.56|
|9||18||September 26, 2010||9.41||May 22, 2011||5.85||2010–11||56||7.66|
|10||23||September 25, 2011||7.69||May 20, 2012||5.35||2011–12||70||7.30|
|11||22||September 30, 2012||6.55||May 19, 2013||5.16||2012–13||63||6.94|
|12||21||Sunday 9:00 PM (1-11)
Sunday 8:30 PM (12-21)
|September 29, 2013||5.20||May 18, 2014||3.85||2013–14||78||6.11|
|13||18||Sunday 9:00 PM||September 28, 2014||8.45||May 17, 2015||2.85||2014–15||94||5.86|
|14||20||September 27, 2015||2.87||May 22, 2016||2.59||2015–16||111||4.28|
|15||20||September 25, 2016||2.80||May 21, 2017||2.14||2016–17||116||3.93|
|16||20||October 1, 2017||2.80||May 20, 2018||1.83||2017–18||TBA||TBA|
Catherine Seipp of National Review Online described it as a "nasty but extremely funny" cartoon. Caryn James of The New York Times called it a show with an "outrageously satirical family" that "includes plenty of comic possibilities and parodies". The Sydney Morning Herald named Family Guy the "Show of the Week" on April 21, 2009, hailing it a "pop culture-heavy masterpiece". Frazier Moore from The Seattle Times called it an "endless craving for humor about bodily emissions". He thought it was "breathtakingly smart" and said a "blend of the ingenious with the raw helps account for its much broader appeal". He summarized it as "rude, crude and deliciously wrong". The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin said that Family Guy is becoming one of the best animated shows; she commented on its ribaldry and popularity. The show has become a hit on Hulu; it is the second-highest viewed show after Saturday Night Live. IGN called Family Guy a great show, and commented that it has gotten better since its revival. They stated that they cannot imagine another half-hour sitcom that provides as many laughs as Family Guy. Empire praised the show and its writers for creating really hilarious moments with unlikely material. They commented that one of the reasons they love the show is because nothing is sacred—it makes jokes and gags of almost everything. Robin Pierson of The TV Critic praised the series as "a different kind of animated comedy which clearly sets out to do jokes which other cartoons can't do." Family Guy has proven popular in the United Kingdom, regularly obtaining between 700,000 and 1 million viewers for re-runs on BBC Three.
The series has attracted many celebrities. Robert Downey, Jr. telephoned the show production staff and asked if he could produce or assist in an episode's creation, as his son is a fan of the show; the producers subsequently created a character for Downey. Lauren Conrad met MacFarlane while recording a Laguna Beach clip for the episode "Prick Up Your Ears" (season 5, 2006). She has watched Family Guy for years and considers Stewie her favorite character. Commenting on his appearance in the episode "Big Man on Hippocampus" (season 8, 2010), actor Dwayne Johnson stated that he was a "big fan" of Family Guy. Johnson befriended MacFarlane after he had a minor role in Johnson's 2010 film Tooth Fairy. R&B singer Rihanna has admitted to being a fan of Family Guy, as has pop singer Britney Spears; she tries to imitate Stewie's English accent. Spears, who was mocked for her personal problems in the South Park episode "Britney's New Look" in 2008, offered to appear in a cameo to hit back at the similar animated show, but MacFarlane declined, stating that he did not want to start a feud with the series.
Family Guy and its cast have been nominated for 24 Emmy Awards, with 7 wins. MacFarlane won the Outstanding Voice-Over Performance award for his performance as Stewie; Murphy and MacFarlane won the Outstanding Music and Lyrics award for the song "You Got a Lot to See" from the episode "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows"; Steven Fonti won the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation award for his storyboard work in the episode "No Chris Left Behind"; and Greg Colton won the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation award for his storyboard work in the episode "Road to the Multiverse". The show was nominated for eleven Annie Awards, and won three times, twice in 2006 and once in 2008. In 2009 it was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, becoming the first animated program to be nominated in this category since The Flintstones in 1961. The Simpsons was almost nominated in 1993, but voters were hesitant to pit cartoons against live action programs. The show was nominated for a Grammy in 2011. Family Guy has been nominated and has won various other awards, including the Teen Choice Awards and the People's Choice Awards. In the 1,000th issue of Entertainment Weekly, Brian Griffin was selected as the dog for "The Perfect TV Family". Wizard Magazine rated Stewie the 95th-greatest villain of all time. British newspaper The Times rated Family Guy as the 45th-best American show in 2009. IGN ranked Family Guy at number seven in the "Top 100 Animated Series" and number six in the "Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time". Empire named it the twelfth-greatest TV show of all time. In 2005 viewers of the UK television channel Channel 4 voted Family Guy at number 5 on their list of the 100 Greatest Cartoons. Brian was awarded the 2009 Stoner of the Year award by High Times for the episode "420", marking the first time an animated character received the honor. In 2007 TV Guide ranked Family Guy number 15 in their list of top cult shows ever. Family Guy has garnered six Golden Reel Awards nominations, winning three times. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Family Guy the ninth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time.
Criticism and controversy
One of the initial critics to give the show negative reviews was Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly; he called it "The Simpsons as conceived by a singularly sophomoric mind that lacks any reference point beyond other TV shows". The Parents Television Council (PTC), a conservative non-profit watchdog, has attacked the series since its premiere and has branded various episodes as "Worst TV Show of the Week". In May 2000 the PTC launched a letter-writing campaign to the Fox network in an effort to persuade the network to cancel the show. The PTC has placed the show on their annual lists of "Worst Prime-Time Shows for Family Viewing" in 2000, 2005, and 2006. The Federal Communications Commission has received multiple petitions requesting that the show be blocked from broadcasting on indecency grounds. Tucker and the PTC have both accused the show of portraying religion negatively, and of being racist. Because of the PTC, some advertisers have canceled their contracts after reviewing the content of the episodes, claiming it to be unsuitable. Critics have compared the show's humor and characters with those of The Simpsons.
Various episodes of the show have generated controversy. In "420" (season seven, 2009) Brian decides to start a campaign to legalize cannabis in Quahog; the Venezuelan government reacted negatively to the episode and banned Family Guy from airing on their local networks, which generally syndicate American programming. Venezuelan justice minister Tareck El Aissami, citing the promotion of the use of cannabis, stated that any cable stations that did not stop airing the series would be fined; the government showed a clip which featured Brian and Stewie singing the praises of marijuana as a demonstration of how the United States supports cannabis use. In "Extra Large Medium" (season eight, 2010) a character named Ellen (who has Down syndrome) states that her mother is the former Governor of Alaska, which strongly implies that her mother is Sarah Palin, the only woman to have served in the office of governor in the state. Sarah Palin, the mother of a child with Down syndrome, criticized the episode in an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, calling those who made the show "cruel, cold-hearted people."
Family Guy premiered in Australia on April 9, 1999, on the Seven Network, in 2000 on Fox8, and on 7mate on September 27, 2010. In Canada, the series premiered January 31, 1999 on Global and September 1, 2003 on Teletoon. Beginning in the 2015–16 season, the show moved to City. In addition to Teletoon, the show has been syndicated to TVtropolis (now DTour), Adult Swim from July 4, 2012, and FXX. The show also airs in India on Star World Premiere, in Ireland on 3e, and in New Zealand on Four.
In the United Kingdom, Family Guy premiered in September 1999, originally on Channel 4 and Sky One. In January 2005, FX (now Fox) began broadcasting the show. From October 2005, BBC Two started screening Family Guy before switching to BBC Three on September 2006. In March 2015, it was announced that season 14 of Family Guy and all of MacFarlane's other cartoons will transfer to ITV2, premiering on February 29, 2016, while the BBC would continue to hold the rights until 2017 for older episodes.
Family Guy: It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One was written by executive story editor Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and actress Alex Borstein. The book was first published on May 8, 2007. The book is a biographical monologue by Lois Griffin discussing her memories of growing up and to her attempted run for mayor in the town of Quahog. Though the book primarily consists of a loose narrative monologue by Lois, it is also interspersed with sections from other characters such as Peter Griffin. The book covers events featured in the Family Guy episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One", with which it shares a title. It was published in the United Kingdom in 2007 by Orion Books.
A comic book based on the Family Guy universe was produced. Published by Titan Comics, edited by Steve White and illustrated by Anthony Williams and S. L. Gallant. The writing and the illustrations will be supervised by the show's producers. The first comic book was released on July 27, 2011.
As promotion for the show, and, as Newman described, "[to] expand interest in the show beyond its diehard fans", Fox organized four Family Guy Live! performances, which featured cast members reading old episodes aloud. The cast also performed musical numbers from the Family Guy: Live in Vegas comedy album. The stage shows were an extension of a performance by the cast during the 2004 Montreal Comedy Festival. The Family Guy Live! performances, which took place in Los Angeles and New York, sold out and were attended by around 1,200 people each.
In 2007, at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, MacFarlane performed (as the digitally inserted Stewie and Brian) the ceremony's opening number. He performed a song insulting modern television to the tune of the song "The Fellas At The Freakin' F.C.C." performed in the episode PTV. The song insulted TV shows such as Two and a Half Men, Desperate Housewives, and Scrubs, as well as the final scene of The Sopranos.
In 2009, a special televised performance show aired entitled Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show, in which voice actors Alex Borstein and MacFarlane performed songs from the show, as well as a parody of Lady Gaga's song "Poker Face" in the voice of Marlee Matlin, who appeared on stage as a guest during the performance. Some new animated gags also appeared in the show.
On July 22, 2007, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, MacFarlane announced that he may start working on a feature film, although "nothing's official." In TV Week on July 18, 2008, MacFarlane confirmed plans to produce a theatrically released Family Guy feature film sometime "within the next year." He came up with an idea for the story, "something that you could not do on the show, which [to him] is the only reason to do a movie." He later went to say he imagines the film to be "an old-style musical with dialogue" similar to The Sound of Music, saying that he would "really be trying to capture, musically, that feel." On October 13, 2011, Seth MacFarlane confirmed that a deal for a Family Guy film had been made, and that it would be written by himself and series co-producer Ricky Blitt.
On August 10, 2018, Fox announced that a live-action/animated film based on the series is in development.
Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff launched on iOS and Android on April 10, 2014.
Family Guy: Another Freakin' Mobile Game was released on iOS on April 25, 2017.
As of 2009, six books have been released about the Family Guy universe, all published by HarperCollins since 2005. The first, Family Guy: Stewie's Guide to World Domination (ISBN 978-0-06-077321-2) by Steve Callahan, was released in April 26, 2005. Written in the style of a graphic novel, the plot follows Stewie's plans to rule the world. Other books include Family Guy: It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One (ISBN 978-0-7528-7593-4), which covers the events of the episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One"; and Family Guy and Philosophy: A Cure for the Petarded (ISBN 978-1-4051-6316-3), a collection of 17 essays exploring the connections between the series and historical philosophers. A book written from Brian's point of view (written by Andrew Goldberg) was published in 2006, called Brian Griffin's Guide to Booze, Broads and the Lost Art of Being a Man.
Family Guy has been commercially successful in the home market. The show was the first to be resurrected because of high DVD sales. The first volume, covering the show's first two seasons, sold 1.67 million units, topping TV DVD sales in 2003, while the second volume sold another million units. Volumes six and seven debuted at fifth place in United States DVD sales; volume seven was the highest-selling television DVD, selling 171,000 units by June 21, 2009. Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest, the DVD featuring the Star Wars special "Blue Harvest", was released on January 15, 2008, and premiered at the top of United States DVD sales. The DVD was the first Family Guy DVD to include a digital copy for download to the iPod. In 2004, the first series of Family Guy toy figurines was released by Mezco Toyz; each member of the Griffin family had their own toy, with the exception of Stewie, of whom two different figures were made. Over the course of two years, four more series of toy figures were released, with various forms of Peter. In 2008, the character Peter appeared in advertisements for Subway Restaurants, promoting the restaurant's massive feast sandwich.
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How much does it cost to make an episode, a half hour episode of a cartoon?" "It depends. For Family Guy and for The Simpsons, at this point, I mean, these are shows that are pushing, like, two million an episode.
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The show kicked off its eighth season with another entry in the now-classic "Road to ..." series, which allows for many different sight gags and opportunities for a wide range of humor.
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The FG team went back to familiar territory this week, bringing us another "Road to..." episode.
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