Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hey... At least he’s a family guy

Katelyn Temple
WST 3015
Professor Nina Perez
March 17, 2010

Hey... At least he’s a family guy

Family Guy is an animated show about a dysfunctional family in small town Rhode Island. The Griffin family is a non-traditional. The leader of the Griffin family, of course, is dad; Peter. Peter is an interesting character, to say the least. He can be offensive, towards people of all walks of life; crude, stereotypical, seemingly unfit as a parent and rude. The series follows the Griffin’s through ridiculous, whimsical, scenarios that parody American humor and culture.

Lois is the matriarch of the family. Lois and Peter get along greatly. The show depicts them as being a very sexual couple. Lois is usually the more sexually aggressive of the two. It is common these days to view television shows in which the traditional and stereotypical couples are not the norm. A larger, seemingly adolescent at times, man with a thinner woman. Recent years has developed the traditional television “dad” has all-American, tall, intelligent, and good looking. Peter breaks all traditions. At times he can be sexist and ageist. Displays of these behaviors are usually aimed at Lois. Examples of this are found within this episode, ‘Go Stewie Go’.

Peter points out grey hairs in Lois’s hair, tells a room full of people Lois is not what she use to be, and even calls her ugly and old. In Seely's Fight Like A Girl she discusses how women are often shown in a limited light, often obsessing about "trivial issues" such as their appearance (103). Peter’s statements make Lois panic and question her beauty.

Stereotypical aspects of the show are present. Peter works at a brewery, therefore he drinks beer. A lot of beer. Usually on the couch while watching television. Meanwhile Lois can be seen cooking, cleaning, or waiting for Peter’s next big mess. Lois is critical of her family and children, in a sarcastic way. Peter tells Lois she is ugly and old because he is scared he is getting too ugly for her, so he brings down her spirits so she will not run off with another guy. Peter is so adolescent in his marriage that Lois has to walk him through every step. Telling him to talk to her about his feelings instead of calling her old and ugly. What a marriage!

Traditional family roles are not displayed here. As Paula Ettelbrick states in her article, Since When Is Marriage a Path to Liberation?, people must deal with the world “…by diminishing the constraints of gender roles which have for so long kept woman and gay people oppressed and invisible” (318). I do not know if Peter Griffin is what Ms. Ettelbrick has in mind but Family Guy definitely challenges traditional gender roles.

The show does not challenge stereotypical gender roles, in fact most of the laughs are gained from stereotypically racist, sexist, ageist, ablest, or biased situations. Peter is not a typical male. He is a family guy, loves them without a doubt but his main purpose is to entertain. He does so in a crude way with laughs at the expense of others. He is not a “good TV husband” who listens to his wife nag. Peter is a drinking, belching, insulting man who says whatever to his wife. Lucky for Lois, she seems to stand her own against Peter.

(544 words)

Works Cited:

Ettelbrick, Paula. "Since When Is Marriage a Path to Liberation?" Women's Lives Multicultural Perspectives. 5th Ed. Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 318. Print.

Janetti, Gary. Family Guy: Go Stewie Go. FOX. Web. 17 Mar. 2010. .

Seely, Megan. Fight Like a Girl: How to be a Fearless Feminist. New York and London: New York University Press, 2007.

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