Edginess and Its Discontents

Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, is producing a TV show called Dads. A recent episode has produced a good deal of controversy. In it, an Asian-American woman who works for a gaming company is forced to dress up in a school girl uniform in order to please some Chinese investors. (The latter stupidly take photos of her. Hey, those Orientals love cameras, don’t you know?) Critics have called this racist, which is true. What really strikes me about this sitcom, however, is that this is precisely the sort of inane, unfunny situation comedy that Family Guy mocks from time to time. The characters and situations are uninteresting. The dialogue is unconvincing. (Note from the following clip that the writers thought that simply tossing in a movie reference would provoke a laugh.)

While listening to Seth MacFarlane tell unfunny jokes on this year’s Academy Awards, I began to wonder if perhaps he had received more credit than he actually deserved for the success of Family Guy. His involvement with a show like Dads makes me wonder even more.

One thing that the two shows do have in common is that both try to shock people in an effort to appear “edgy”. Having a woman dress up in a school girl uniform serves the same purpose as the jokes about disabled people on Family Guy. The assumption is that being mindlessly offensive is somehow hip.

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