Since 1999, Seth MacFarlane’s animated sitcom “Family Guy” has been the show to push limits with no apologies. In the same mold of “The Simpsons” and “South Park” – Family Guy has been the adult-themed cartoon who’s language and topics indulge in being risque and ridiculous.
Seth MacFarlane has built an empire because of Family Guy, and he’s done so by playing by his own rules. He’s been criticized in the past for jokes on family guy being sexist or racist. He’s raised eye brows with his jokes based on pedophilia or homosexuality. But he continues on with no apologies. Making others feel uncomfortable with his humor is his “safe-house.” If you don’t believe it, go on youtube and watch clips of what he did at the Oscars. . .
Now Seth has challenged himself in the most public fashion. He could’ve done what others before him have done, and just re-create ridiculous plots with the same perfect cast that his dedicated television audience has become familiar with but instead, he opted to go a different route. He decided to kill off a character from Family Guy and not just any character. He decided to kill off a character who’s been there from the start. A character who is part of the family that is portrayed in Family Guy. Seth MacFarlane killed Brian Griffin.
Brian Griffin was the family dog. A talking, drinking, smoking dog. The depth of Brian’s character was unique. Although a dog, he represented some of the more human qualities on the show. Brian would be the one who would try to make sense of whatever haphazard scenario the family got involved in and he also battled with himself. Brian Griffin was outspoken on issues of politics, questioned most religious beliefs and found himself tormented as a struggling writer who could never find love.
Brian was noted as being the main character, Peter Griffin’s best friend – but it was with the youngest of the Griffins, Stewie – that the audience saw a real connection being made.
Brian and Stewie throughout the show’s existence have displayed a love/hate relationship, where each one “one-ups” the other. Most story lines centered around the two’s shenanigans – and if it wasn’t the main focus, there would sometimes be a sub plot involving them. Brian seemed to be the only person who “understood” Stewie, and in the Griffin household, these two were the most intelligent of the bunch. In the 150th episode of Family Guy fittingly named :”Brian and Stewie,” Seth MacFarlane strayed away from the usual slap stick satire of the program and positioned the two characters trapped in a bank vault over night. It was in this episode where Brian, once again showing a human side, admits to Stewie that he has thought about committing suicide and liked that there was an option for him if ever need be. Stewie, not knowing how deeply troubled Brian really was, reassures Brian that he (Stewie) would be lost without him. This was one of many times where Stewie and Brian have one of those collective “awww” moments in the Family Guy series.
Brian was college educated, made fun of for driving an eco-friendly Prius and was even to an extent a “ladies man.” To recall a few, Brian has dated a blind girl, a “cougar”, a stereotyped blonde and even Glen Quagmire’s father, Dan. But that’s not as bad as it sounds like because that was before Dan had the sex change and became Ida . . . well, I guess there’s no sense in getting into that now. . .
So why would Seth MacFarlane kill off such an integral character. One that had more depth than the others? Because that’s the Seth MacFarlane way. Why not make us all uncomfortable by eliminating the closest thing to the human element on the show? I’m sure MacFarlane will get his normal critics for this one, but I for commend him for taking such a huge chance. Maybe he felt something had to change or else he (MacFarlane) would get bored. Or maybe he just doesn’t want his program to be predictable like the ones before him. Whatever it is, I’m interested to see where the family goes now. Eliminating the strong dynamic of Brian’s relationships with those in the cast, most notably Peter and Stewie and adding a new dog to the family – who knows.
Maybe somehow Brian will come back. After all it is television . . . and even more so – it is a cartoon. But for what it’s worth, if this is the last of Brian Griffin, he’ll go down with some of the greatest television characters of all time. We won’t forget the animated pup who once gave us the classic line: “Hey, barkeep. Who’s leg you gotta hump to get a dry martini around here?”