This perfectly summarizes why I love the Simpsons and hate Family Guy.
I watched that episode with my family and I could just feel how uncomfortable everyone was. Honestly, it was a really jarring, unpleasant episode.
Homer is a terrible dad. So is Peter. But Homer’s saving grace has always been that he tries—he’s bad at it and he fucks it up a lot, but he loves his family and he wants to be better than he is.
One of my favorite Homer moments is in “Diatribe of a Mad Housewife.” Tl;dr Marge writes a steamy romance novel starring herself and Ned, and when Homer finds out, he chases down Ned and, rather than attack him, asks him to teach him how to be a better husband.
There’s some part of his stupid self that wants to do better.
I never got that impression with Peter. Instead, the family has gotten more and more abusive towards Meg. It’s really unsettling for me when I started realizing that’s what happens sometimes in abusive families. Abusers sometimes single out one child to abuse, and quite often the other family members take the abuser’s side. After all, it’s easier to side with an abuser than to run the risk of becoming the target yourself.
There’s never really a point where it seems like Peter cares at all that his shitty behavior impacts his family. It actually seems to have gotten worse over the years. He expects everyone to clean up his messes because that’s always what happens; there’s really no reason for him not to be shitty.
And it’s easy to see how Meg is affected. She doesn’t have much of a character, really, because so much her screen time is devoted to being abused. The bits of character development all seem to hinge on her being this sad, neglected person who’s trying her best but never really gets any help from anyone. Quite the opposite; there have been a lot of episodes where her family sabotages any attempts to be herself.
It can be easy to forget how awful this behavior is when the only context is the show itself (frankly, everyone on Family Guy is kind of terrible). Seeing it played against the Simpsons, who are a flawed and dysfunctional but ultimately loving family, was painful to watch.
I *used* to like Family Guy. Early on the family’s relationship with Meg was harsh at times but they would still care. I think initially the ‘hate on Meg’ thing was supposed to be a send up of the unpopular kid trope that was more of a “let’s push this stereotype a bit farther”. She isn’t pretty, but she isn’t utterly ugly either. She’s an awkward average teenage girl, in a disfunctional family. I remember that there were a few episodes were Peter towards the end would kind of admit that he still cared for her, even kind of cool. But then of course after the show got cancelled twice the writers boosted up the themes they had going to the extreme.
More Pop culture references to the point were there’s barely any plot.
More dumb and horrifically long jokes that aren’t funny.
Fucking Conway Twitty…(Yes I know, it’s pop culture, but this of all the references was just obscene for me. Fuck Conway.)
And of course…utter and complete hatred for Meg. She never has any episodes were Peter cares for her at the end. She is actively physically and mentally abused. In fact I swear there are episodes were she was killed *non-canonically*.
I want to see an episode were she runs away, changes her name and looks, finds a job and becomes a sucess. The family initially don’t notice and don’t care. When they do, they have a big party and all seems pretty typical Family Guy crapfest. Then Peter sees a family album and remembers how he felt seeing her grow up. How he in a way saw himself and his own awkward teen years through her. He remembers he actually cares for her and sets off to bring her back.
But of course knowing Family Guy they’ll fill it with dumb pop culture and ‘jokes’ about how Meg totally sucks.
Bob’s Burgers treatment of Tina is considerably better and funnier. She isn’t hated, just odd and awkward. But she does have friends and managed to kiss her crush. Her family love her, weirdness and all and defend her when she needs it. She isn’t a joke, she isn’t a punching bag. She’s a well respected and awkward teenager.
THAT is why Family Guy will never get an Emmy, and Bob’s Burgers deserves one. *has it won one yet? it should have.*