The Seth MacFarlane creation that is "Family Guy" has built a reputation on poking animated fun at everything from race to religion to sexuality issues over the course of its seven seasons on the air. However, according to a press release from last week's Comic Con there is one issue that is just too taboo, even for a show that routinely makes rape jokes. That issue? Abortion.
Apparently, the next season of "Family Guy" contains an episode that deals with abortion. While Fox (the network that airs "Family Guy") originally paid for production of the episode, now they are saying they will not air it. Said MacFarlane at Comic Con, "20th Century Fox, as always, allowed us to produce the episode and then said, 'You know what? We're scared to f--king death of this.'"
Says this press release from Fox:
Fox will not air the 'Partial Terms of Endearment' episode of Family Guy, but we fully support the producers' right to make the episode and distribute it in whatever way they want
Now "Family Guy" has not historically been a bastion for feminist politics (the title "Partial Terms of Endearment" might indicate as much), nor has it really championed any particularly progressive causes beyond simply pushing the envelope when it comes to the way people think of animated television. The problem with the abortion issue, then, is not that we feminists are looking to "Family Guy" to speak up for our reproductive rights. It's that Fox is choosing to censor this topic when they appear to be completely fine with airing these other episodes next season (according to zap2it):
- An episode in which Brian gets drunk, drives and then hits a dog. This show is always great at making us feel uncomfortable ... and damned for laughing. Also, Lois hires a maid Consuela, Superman's maid.
- Hentemann says that Peter meets and has an affair with a cardboard cutout of Kathy Ireland. What will Lois think?
- Mila: "There's an episode when Meg goes to jail and comes back a little bit tougher, a little bit meaner and little more manly." The subject of prison rape is brought up at panel, but we're not sure if they're joking or not. You never know when it comes to "Family Guy."
So it's fine to air a show dealing with prison rape, sexual harassment (no way is that cardboard cutout sex consensual), and drunk driving, but abortion is somehow waaaaay too taboo for television? No wonder some people are contacting Fox to complain.
While it is likely that the episode (which will be available on DVD) doesn't do the reproductive rights movement any huge favors, censoring it also sends a cultural message that discussion of abortion is off-limits, even though a musical number performed by abandoned prom night dumpster babies gets two thumbs up. Will we ever normalize abortion on television, or will it always be a censored topic? Would you like to see this episode of "Family Guy" air on Fox, or do you think that our abortion rights are better off without the "Family Guy" treatment?