Seth MacFarlane is the creator of the animated sitcoms Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. Not only is he the creator of these TV shows, but he is also a voice actor who provides many of the voices for the characters of these shows.
Born in Kent, Connecticut in 1973, 36-year-old Seth MacFarlane studied animation at the Rhode Island School of Design and earned a BA in Fine Arts there. Urged by his ex-hippie parents to develop creative pursuits, MacFarlane admits that his interesting brand of humor was encouraged, in part, by his family. “Everybody in my family had a real sick, twisted sense of humor. Most of the jokes we make in our house, we would just never even dream of making anywhere else. Just sick, horrible stuff.” When MacFarlane got to college, he was doing stand up, further developing his humor. Later, he worked at Hanna-Barbara.
Most would agree that Seth MacFarlane’s most popular animated sitcom is Family Guy. The show includes Peter Griffin, his wife Lois, daughter Meg, son Chris, baby son Stewie who is obsessed with dominating the world, and talking dog Brian. The show was canceled in 2004 but was brought back due to its popularity.
At first, MacFarlane worked tirelessly to get the show off the ground, “The first and second season it was not unusual to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.” In addition to that, MacFarlane wanted to be in control of every detail, but eventually he realized that he needed to trust the writers he hired. “It got to the point where you just rely on these people. Really, what I found was that good writers are good writers. Being in the writer’s room and being able to give a little bit of guidance as far as what will work and what won’t work in animation, and working with these experienced sitcom writers who really fell in to grasp the medium very soon after starting, it just turned out to be just a perfect blend.”
But that perfect blend of humor writing has made fun of gays, blacks and the handicapped. Yet, Seth MacFarlane will tell you that he is not homophobic, not racist and not anti-disabled.
“I’m incredibly passionate about my support for the gay community and what they’re dealing with at this current point in time. I have arguments with people where I get red in the face, screaming at the top of my lungs,” says MacFarlane. However, the Family Guy episode that showed a barbershop quartet informing a man that he has “full-blown AIDS” doesn’t help that sentiment.
“So that gag sort of took it to the next level. If you have to break terrible news to somebody, what’s the most sugarcoated, upbeat way to do it? We thought a barbershop quartet might be nice,” said MacFarlane. But where that episode offended members of the gay community, another episode, where a gay character named Jasper and his partner Ricardo get married in the Griffin’s back yard, showed clear support.
MacFarlane also got into trouble with the episode where the son Chris dates a Down syndrome girl. In the episode a joke is made in reference to Sarah Palin’s Down syndrome child. “This world is full of cold, cruel hearted people who would do such a thing,” said Sarah Palin. However, MacFarlane reported on Real Time with Bill Mayer that the girl who voiced the character, and who has actual Down syndrome, said she was very happy and content with her life and that Sarah Palin has no sense of humor.
It is clear that Seth MacFarlane has hit a home run by being crude. But is it not like the old All in the Family episodes where Archie Bunker uttered disparaging comments about everyone who didn’t look and act like him? The comments were offensive, but it was clear who was wrong. Says MacFarlane, “With most of the gags where it seems like we’re taking a potshot at black people, Asian people, Jewish people, or gay people, the joke is that Peter is an idiot.”
Seth MacFarlane Responds To Sarah Palin’s Criticism Of Family Guy, Media ITE
Seth MacFarlane Secret, SethMacFarlane.org
BGF: Seth MacFarlane, Advocate
Interview with Seth MacFarlane, TV Shows on DVD
An Interview with Seth MacFarlane, IGN Movies