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The animated series, Family Guy, features the adventures of the Griffin Family. Peter and Lois have three kids. The youngest is a brilliant, but crazy baby that tries to kill his mother in every episode. Chris, like his father, is obese, has a low IQ and has no common sense. Meg desperately tries to be part of the popular crowd, but is never accepted. Their talking dog, Brian, keeps the baby Stewie in line while working out his own problems. There are many different stereotypes of people from every race, ethnic background, and more in every episode. Many Americans today tend to find this show rude and offensive, yet they shouldn't because, all the negative stereotypes portrayed in this show are just for fun, and nothing is meant by it. All the writer's for Family Guy are trying to do is get a laugh out of people. In fact, Family Guy does not aim to hurt and its creators take certain measures to keep it from hitting too hard. In an interview on Access Hollywood, the creator, Seth MacFarlane states that there are certain jokes too
upsetting to certain groups to go on the air. To make sure that this easily misunderstood show doesn't fall into the hands of those too young to understand it, Fox will not license Family Guy rights to any products intended for children under the age of fourteen (Elliott). The stereotypes portrayed in Family Guy are more than just humorous; they are also beneficial to society's health.
Peter Griffin is portrayed as a horrible father and an alcoholic who likes to stay out every night at the local pub. He falls under the stereotype that fathers are incompetent, good for nothing, and are barely capable of taking care of their children. He is always laughing and joking, even during the most serious situations. He is very immature and thinks the dumbest things are hilarious. He can't keep a steady job. He worked as a safety inspector at a store called Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory until his boss died from choking on a dinner roll. He then became a fisherman, using his own boat with the help of two Portuguese immigrants, until his boat was destroyed. The last job he had was in the shipping department of the Pawtucket Patriot brewery, until he was fired for being drunk at work. An episode that shows how Peter falls under this father stereotype is when he crashes into the cable transmitter and knocks out
television for the whole town. Then when the people come outside to see what happened, he makes his daughter Meg takes the blame for it. Then he bribed her by saying if she keeps her mouth closed he will buy her a new car.
Lois Griffin, on the other hand, is portrayed as a very loving mother that is always there for the family. She grew up in a very rich family, and is very mature. She is a stay at home mother that teaches piano lessons on the side. She is always helping everyone with their problems. If it wasn't for her, the family would fall apart. She is always keeping Peter in check, and tries to get him to make the right decisions. If anybody ever has problems in the family, they come to Lois for her help. For example, in one episode, Meg was really upset because she didn't have many friends, and she wanted to go to Spring Break with someone, so Lois took her. She showed Meg how to relax and have a good time when she was feeling down.
Peter and Lois' daughter, Meg, is portrayed as the unpopular girl that struggles to fit in. She is self-conscious and doesn't have many friends. No one in the family listens to her except Lois. She is the “least liked” person in the family. She always tries to hang out with the popular kids, but they always make fun of her. In one episode, the popular kids played
a prank on her. They invited her to a party, and when she got there, they played truth or dare. They dared her to kiss one of the boys in the closet. When someone opened the closet the boy was holding up a pig and Meg was kissing it. She started crying and ran out of the party. This shows how she is the stereotypical unpopular girl.
The truth about Family Guy is that it is a really funny show that should never be taken seriously. It is also beneficial for society's health because laughter is the best medicine. There are many different stereotypes in the show, such as the alcoholic father, the loving mother, and the unpopular daughter. Many people think this show is very rude, and offensive. Some people just need to learn to laugh at themselves. All the stereotypes in the show are just harmless fun, just used to get a laugh and nothing more.
Over many years there has been an interest in the affects that laughter has on people. Nicholas A. Kulper and Rod A. Martin, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, conducted a test. They had community participants keep a record of their actual frequency of laughter for a 3 day period, and completed a measure of stressful life events each evening. This test proved that an increased sense of
humor can moderate the impact of negative life events. People with a lower sense of humor have a higher chance of becoming depressed, developing anxiety, anger, and fatigue easier. People with a higher sense of humor didn't show an increase in negative affect levels as their number of stressful life experiences increased. This test also proves that the increase of laughter reduces stress (Martin, Kuiper). So if people would learn to not take Family Guy so seriously, and be able to laugh at themselves, it is proven that this show can decrease depression, anxiety, anger, and increase energy.
Psychologist William James wrote, “We don't laugh because we're happy; we're happy because we laugh (James Par .1).” Using laughter to alleviate stress isn't new to health care. Research has also shown that laughter relaxes our muscles, enhances our mental alertness and creativity, reduces blood pressure, and slows the heart rate down. Endorphins are released into the blood stream when we laugh which works as a pain reliever and a natural euphoria.
Laughter is also very contagious. It's more contagious than a cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared between people, it increases happiness. It is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Humor lightens your burdens,
inspires hopes, connects you to others, makes you alert. A good hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, relieving your muscles for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter also boosts your immune system. It helps improve resistance to disease because it decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells. It improves resistance to disease. Laughter protects your heart. It improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. It triggers endorphins which is the feel good chemical in the body. This also protects you from heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. (Belmonte, 2001-2009)
Michael Miller, the Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said, “The old saying that laughter is the best medicine,” definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart (Miller, 2009). It is possible to incorporate laughing into our daily activities, just as people do with other heart healthy activities. Miller also said, “We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously.” He also
recommended that eating right and laughing a few times a day is the key to a healthy heart. So if people just watch Family Guy just a few times a day it can actually keep you healthy.
Every episode of Family Guy includes stereotypes of people from every race, ethnic background, and more. People also believe the show is a mockery of the biblical values we should hope to display in our own lives and pass on to our teens. People also feel that it is distasteful humor. This is all false because, the creators of Family Guy are just misunderstood and are never trying to offend people. I just believe it depends on people's opinion and sense of humor. There is nothing meant by it and all the stereotypes are harmless and are used just to get a laugh out of people.
- Elliott, Stuart. “Crude? So What? These Characters Still find work in Ads.”
- New York Times Online 18 June 2008. 14 July 2008
- Belmonte, Joelle. “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” helpguide. N.p., 2009. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. <http://www.helpguide.org>.
- Miller, Michael. “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 2009. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. <http://www.umm.edu>.