I was so loyal to Buffy The Vampire Slayer for seven years that the Tuesday at 8 o'clock spot was sacred to me. When Buffy went off the air, I'd never enjoy Tuesdays as much as I did before. The other night, I felt like I was betraying Buffy. I saw a new Gilmore Girls followed by Scrubs. On Scrubs, JD and Turk were watching Gilmore Girls, and I laughed and said "I love my Tuesday night programming!" A split second later, I thought about Buffy and felt that I was disrespecting the impact the show had on me.
I feel that lately, lines are being drawn in the sand. You have to choose. I keep seeing "Whose Side Are You On?" everywhere. Of course, it would be easier for me to choose a side if I could actually find that New Avengers: Illuminati special, but that's beside the point.
Marvel is having a Civil War. Cartoons are at war. South Park and Family Guy came to blows on Wednesday. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have spoken about how much they dislike being compared to Family Guy. I must say, I have been guilty of that. In my animated comedy section of DVDs, I have a stack for Futurama/King of the Hill, a stack for Simpsons, a stack for South Park, and a stack for Family Guy/Clerks/Critic. Yes, they are the same genre, but are they similar shows?
Kinda (which was in the episode since they had Family Guy doing something they themselves did on South Park). But not really. Like the South Park episode said, they have a different sense of humor. Family Guy is references and cutaways and South Park is social satire and mocking current events. Different approaches, both funny.
Flashback to 2004. I'm on the train with a co-worker who was happy that Family Guy was coming back. I remarked that Family Guy is funny but I prefer Futurama. He said Family Guy is funnier. There are more "LPM" (laughs per minute). I said while that's true, Futurama is better overall. He said "Why? The plot?" and I said plot, character development, animation, continuity, wider use of voice talent all made Futurama a better show than Family Guy. He disagreed saying it's a cartoon, all that matters is how funny it is.
Let me address that point. How funny IS Family Guy? South Park seems to be accusing it of cheap laughs by dropping references and putting old shows/characters in odd situations. Is Family Guy lazy? Well, lazier than shows like Futurama (which puts a lot of effort into its animation) and South Park (which turns its references and jokes into a coherent plot and wraps it up with a moral at the end). But Family Guy is still funny, so why should it matter?
Since returning, I have begun to respect Family Guy a little less. Their jokes have been tending to drag on too long. And then there's the writing aspect of it. In one of the South Park commentaries (Scott Tennorman, I think), Trey and Matt talk about how simple storytelling is usually the best and that they especially admire Pixar for it. Family Guy doesn't really seem to care about any kind of storytelling. They certainly don't care about their characters anymore. Brian is more a vessel for a joke than anything else.
The last Family Guy DVD I bought was the movie, and I'm not sure I want to buy the new seasons. I feel a loyalty to Family Guy, but that South Park episode nearly made me make up my mind on not buying the new seasons. I'm loyal to South Park too. They're both 90's cartoons, I shouldn't have to choose. I never had to before. I love South Park. Do I still love Family Guy? Well...it's good for a few cheap laughs.