It's amazing how different Family Guy's early years were

TheMisterManGuy

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Family Guy is still currently running, it's been on since 1999. While it no longer has a lot of the wit its golden years had, one thing that did strike was just how different its first season in particular is from the rest of the series. In fact, it may as well be a completely different show. The basic premise is the same. Peter is the somewhat dimwitted, but well-meaning father who's impulsiveness and ego gets him into trouble, with his wife Lois, dumb son Chris, awkward daughter Meg, voice-of-reason Dog Brian, and the Baby Genius Stewie, as he and the Griffins get into wacky scenarios and use cutaway jokes to emphasize points. That's where the similarities end, there's a lot of differences between Family Guy's beginnings and its current status.

* It's a lot more formulaic - All 7 episodes of the first season follow this format
- Griffins are sitting around
- Conflict arises
- Peter does something stupid or misguided
- Peter works to fix what he did wrong
- All the while, Stewie plots his own schemes as his invention of the week fixes the conflict of the episode.
- Peter learns his lesson
Later seasons broke away from this format and just started to do whatever the hell it wanted, which I think was for the better as it gave the other characters more development. But the more formulaic nature gives Season 1 a more grounded feel than the rest of the series.

* The characters - Just like how season 1 might as well be a different show, the characters may as well be different too. Peter is the bumbling father who constantly makes stupid, careless mistakes. But his idiocy in Season 1 comes more from his shortsightedness and slightly bigoted nature than just being outright moronic. He still possessed some level of intelligence, and was smart enough to get himself out of trouble. Unlike later Seasons where the characters had devolved into horrible people, Each of them had a good traits to balance themselves out. Lois was the naggy but, but caring housewife instead of a selfish sex-obssessed egomaniac. Meg was just the awkward Teenage Daughter who wanted to be acepted and not cheap punching bag for abuse. Brian was the smart, self-aware snarker who helped Peter out, rather than the shallow, hypocritical, and manipulative SJW he became later on. Chris and Stewie actually changed for the better. Chris used to be the actual idiot of the family, who was naieve and slow. But he grew into a more child-like earnest character who while still somewhat dim, is more self-aware and caring than his father who became an un-sympathetic, and borderline psychopathic Jerk. Stewie started out as an Invader Zim-type character. A delusional meglomaniac with ambitions of both Matricide and World Domination, but he was so incompetent and full of himself to actually pull those things off despite having the gadgets and weapons to do so. When the show was uncancelled, he became less and less interested in this, as he evolved more into a friend of Brian while questioning his sexuality, before finally retiring his plans in Season 6. Now he's more of an anti-hero with a compassionate side than a bumbling supervillan.

* Cutaways - Family Guy is known for its cutaway gags. Every now and again, the show will take the viewer out of the main story, to show them a quick joke or skit to make a point. But unlike modern Family Guy, which has devolved into an over-glorified Sketch comedy show as the cutaways began consuming more and more episode run-time. The cutaways were used sparingly in Season 1. Another difference is that most of the cutaways in the early seasons were just flashbacks of Peter and the others. While modern Family Guy will show you stupid random crap for a cheap laugh, Season 1 will cut to a flashback of Peter or the others in absurd situations relating to their current problem. This allowed the plot of the show to take more center stage.

* It's oddly tame - Compared to later seasons of the show, Season 1 is incredibly tame in terms of content. While later seasons won't hesitate to show you blood, gore, vomit, sex, violence, and other "Fun" subjects. Season 1 mostly is focused on normal Family problems with some slightly edgy humor thrown in. In many respects, Season 1 of Family Guy feels more like an Adult show than modern Family Guy, which is basically a kids show with a potty mouth. Granted, this could be due to FOX censors at the time being really strict on the show since it was so new. But in many respects, those restrictions bred some rather clever jokes and sight-gags that didn't have to rely on references or shock-value to be funny.

I still think Family Guy can be funny at times, even if it's nowhere near as clever or well written as it used to be, it can still get a chuckle out of my inner 14 year old. But looking at Season 1, if you were to change the title of the series, and told me it was a completely different show despite the same characters, I probably would've believed you.
 

Fone Bone

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I couldn't possibly disagree more. The first 50 episodes of Family Guy are some of the worst animation ever broadcast on television. I also refuse to entertain the notion that the characters used to be nicer in the earlier seasons. I seem to recall Peter airing a revenge porn photo of Lois on local television to win a school-board election. And she forgives him for it by the end of the episode, which sums up how Seth MacFarlane views how women should take his antics. I am very glad Family Guy came back. Because it would have been worthless if it hadn't, and grown into what it became.
 

Ghoster1987

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honestly the first 3 seasons and the first 2 seasons of the revival i liked and actually had a charm, But then after that it tried way too hard to be edgy. It's like a kid who just saw an R-rated movie for the first time and thought Blood, Gore, Sex, Nudity, Violence, and Swear Words were the greatest things ever and then that kid try to put it all in a script in the most immature ways possible.
 
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Neo-Dynamo

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Any show that sticks around for two decades will probably change a lot in that time. Look at early Simpsons compared to now. Or early Homestar Runner. Even SpongeBob changed a lot as the years went on.
 

TheCartoonRailfan

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I couldn't agree with you anymore on this. Season 1 was a completely different show compared to the seasons, and the new Family Guy places so much emphasis on shock value.
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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I also refuse to entertain the notion that the characters used to be nicer in the earlier seasons.

Even though that's 100% true. I will grant you that for the main Griffin family half of them might be debatably nicer now then they were in the original seasons. Stewie for instance probably has moments of generally being nicer and more caring now (and not even to best friend Brian as there have been episodes showing him bond and even temporarily connecting with his siblings and parents, which never happened in the original seasons) and though still having a generally nasty killing streak at times, it seems more like either a side project or for more practical purposes as the whole vowing for world domination and killing off Lois feels a lot more tabled. However Stewie has probably a lot of the most generally cynical and mean spirited shots and barbs out of the entire family constantly mouthing off to himself/the camera his general annoyance. Even if it doesn't make sense like asking why didn't they eat Brian instead of a person in "Into Fat Air" seemingly forgetting or not caring the person they found was already dead and Stewie's sad multiple times how much he cares for Brian so yeah the baby can still be a bitter sack of hate ball. Oddly enough Meg is probably a lot more generally bratty and obnoxious and pushy in the older episodes not really caring as much about her family compared to general teenage emotions of wanting to be popular or have a guy into her. Before she was turned into just the general punching bag for everyone who typically either was more generally nice or due to how everyone hates her went crazy when someone showed her the smallest bit of affection which granted sort of did start in season 3 but yeah it was only after the revival that became her character and yeah that's a well they're still going to 15 years later. then there's Peter who... yeah I guess on some level it's hard to say if he's gotten more mean or just more infantile and obsessed with just doing whatever he wants. But honestly even in the earlier episodes there was at least some justification or at least explanation for it other then "Peter's stupid". He did that revenge porn photo in "Running Mates" but it was established how incredibly short sided he gets in competitions. And pushing Lois down the stairs in "Da Boom' was at least because he was trying to protect her from the Y2K glitch. There's really no validation for any of his actions in later episodes other then "oh hey here's this thing i see and want to do and will abuse and hurt anyone in my path because of it' be it trying to get out of jury Duty or stealing a whip or drinking Red bull etc. plus as much of an oaf he was in later seasons seemed like he at least legitmately loved his family. Nowadays at best i only see him loving Lois (and even then more on the physical then you know a serious mental/emotional connection), maybe liking Brian as a buddy and yeah "Fools in Quahog" stated he hates his kids now and most episodes generally go that direction unless he wants something from them or for the sake of the story sort of acts like a responsible parent even though he clearly isn't.

However the other characters you cannot deny are a lot nastier now then they were in the original seasons. Like Lois was meant to be a slight bit edgier then say Marge but most of that edge either came from lines like "How about you show him the goods? How's that for a mom answer" or peforming in the downstairs pub to release stress or being equally as jealously bitter as Peter could be seeing someone else into him. What was the worst thing she ever did? i think like locking up meg and encouraging peter to drink past his limit in "Wasted Talent" but that was supposed to be potrayed as more out of character behavior due to her own compettition with Alexis Radcliffe. That's nothing compared to how mostly done she seems with her family on most episodes even admitting "the good people left" when Peter and Brian take off in "Forget Me Not" or literally attacking Peter and Chris because they dared do grocery shopping in "Vestigal Peter" or chasing Brian around with the vacuum cleaner in "Quagmire's Father' and like dozens upon dozens of other examples of how bitter and annoyed she's gotten. Like this is NOT the Lois from earlier on in the show who now honestly acts like she has to seem like a good mom for other's attention when the original Lois actually was a good mom. it's probably also because of how much they now try and have her fit a lot of generally negative mom cliches instead of having her more as well a character but yeah it's a noteable bitterness downgrade. And honestly Chris is also a lot worse since yeah he was stupid and guillable in earlier years but a lot less generally aware and at least seemed like he had some talents like say his art. That's not true at all now though especially since they have him in near every other episode do that super gruff Seth Green voice because it was like funny once but now just do it to show the character's dismissive attitude which isn't funny at all now. And of course you can't talk about negative character degration without mentioning Brian Griffin who yeah originally could get wasted and be in his own world for awhile but was a generally educated well meaning and helpful friend who tried often to dissuade peter's more negative impulsive inklings. Now the writers have him as this idiotic, hypocritical over preachy, obnoxious doucebag who no one really likes who instead of actually trying to find a real emotional connection with someone is just interested in dating just to have sex with attractive women which is yeah a nasty downgrade from the character just essentially turning him into another Quagmire. Who is also a lot more negative and mean and you could say that about Cleveland and Joe and Bonnie and....

Point is if you like the new Family Guy better Fone Bone fair enough but don't act like the characters haven't gotten a lot more nasty and bitter then they were before. If you find that makes the series funnier fair enough but there is an obvious difference that turn some of us off to the series now when we weren't as much before.

I seem to recall Peter airing a revenge porn photo of Lois on local television to win a school-board election. And she forgives him for it by the end of the episode, which sums up how Seth MacFarlane views how women should take his antics. I am very glad Family Guy came back. Because it would have been worthless if it hadn't, and grown into what it became.
[/QUOTE]
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Even though that's 100% true. I will grant you that for the main Griffin family half of them might be debatably nicer now then they were in the original seasons. Stewie for instance probably has moments of generally being nicer and more caring now (and not even to best friend Brian as there have been episodes showing him bond and even temporarily connecting with his siblings and parents, which never happened in the original seasons) and though still having a generally nasty killing streak at times, it seems more like either a side project or for more practical purposes as the whole vowing for world domination and killing off Lois feels a lot more tabled. However Stewie has probably a lot of the most generally cynical and mean spirited shots and barbs out of the entire family constantly mouthing off to himself/the camera his general annoyance. Even if it doesn't make sense like asking why didn't they eat Brian instead of a person in "Into Fat Air" seemingly forgetting or not caring the person they found was already dead and Stewie's sad multiple times how much he cares for Brian so yeah the baby can still be a bitter sack of hate ball. Oddly enough Meg is probably a lot more generally bratty and obnoxious and pushy in the older episodes not really caring as much about her family compared to general teenage emotions of wanting to be popular or have a guy into her. Before she was turned into just the general punching bag for everyone who typically either was more generally nice or due to how everyone hates her went crazy when someone showed her the smallest bit of affection which granted sort of did start in season 3 but yeah it was only after the revival that became her character and yeah that's a well they're still going to 15 years later. then there's Peter who... yeah I guess on some level it's hard to say if he's gotten more mean or just more infantile and obsessed with just doing whatever he wants. But honestly even in the earlier episodes there was at least some justification or at least explanation for it other then "Peter's stupid". He did that revenge porn photo in "Running Mates" but it was established how incredibly short sided he gets in competitions. And pushing Lois down the stairs in "Da Boom' was at least because he was trying to protect her from the Y2K glitch. There's really no validation for any of his actions in later episodes other then "oh hey here's this thing i see and want to do and will abuse and hurt anyone in my path because of it' be it trying to get out of jury Duty or stealing a whip or drinking Red bull etc. plus as much of an oaf he was in later seasons seemed like he at least legitmately loved his family. Nowadays at best i only see him loving Lois (and even then more on the physical then you know a serious mental/emotional connection), maybe liking Brian as a buddy and yeah "Fools in Quahog" stated he hates his kids now and most episodes generally go that direction unless he wants something from them or for the sake of the story sort of acts like a responsible parent even though he clearly isn't.

However the other characters you cannot deny are a lot nastier now then they were in the original seasons. Like Lois was meant to be a slight bit edgier then say Marge but most of that edge either came from lines like "How about you show him the goods? How's that for a mom answer" or peforming in the downstairs pub to release stress or being equally as jealously bitter as Peter could be seeing someone else into him. What was the worst thing she ever did? i think like locking up meg and encouraging peter to drink past his limit in "Wasted Talent" but that was supposed to be potrayed as more out of character behavior due to her own compettition with Alexis Radcliffe. That's nothing compared to how mostly done she seems with her family on most episodes even admitting "the good people left" when Peter and Brian take off in "Forget Me Not" or literally attacking Peter and Chris because they dared do grocery shopping in "Vestigal Peter" or chasing Brian around with the vacuum cleaner in "Quagmire's Father' and like dozens upon dozens of other examples of how bitter and annoyed she's gotten. Like this is NOT the Lois from earlier on in the show who now honestly acts like she has to seem like a good mom for other's attention when the original Lois actually was a good mom. it's probably also because of how much they now try and have her fit a lot of generally negative mom cliches instead of having her more as well a character but yeah it's a noteable bitterness downgrade. And honestly Chris is also a lot worse since yeah he was stupid and guillable in earlier years but a lot less generally aware and at least seemed like he had some talents like say his art. That's not true at all now though especially since they have him in near every other episode do that super gruff Seth Green voice because it was like funny once but now just do it to show the character's dismissive attitude which isn't funny at all now. And of course you can't talk about negative character degration without mentioning Brian Griffin who yeah originally could get wasted and be in his own world for awhile but was a generally educated well meaning and helpful friend who tried often to dissuade peter's more negative impulsive inklings. Now the writers have him as this idiotic, hypocritical over preachy, obnoxious doucebag who no one really likes who instead of actually trying to find a real emotional connection with someone is just interested in dating just to have sex with attractive women which is yeah a nasty downgrade from the character just essentially turning him into another Quagmire. Who is also a lot more negative and mean and you could say that about Cleveland and Joe and Bonnie and....

Point is if you like the new Family Guy better Fone Bone fair enough but don't act like the characters haven't gotten a lot more nasty and bitter then they were before. If you find that makes the series funnier fair enough but there is an obvious difference that turn some of us off to the series now when we weren't as much before.

I seem to recall Peter airing a revenge porn photo of Lois on local television to win a school-board election. And she forgives him for it by the end of the episode, which sums up how Seth MacFarlane views how women should take his antics. I am very glad Family Guy came back. Because it would have been worthless if it hadn't, and grown into what it became.
First off, Stewie is nicer in the later episodes, and Brian is nicer in the earlier episodes. Those are pretty indisputable so we'll use them as a baseline.

I don't find Lois all that much nicer in the earlier seasons. In fact, one of the things I appreciate about how mean she is in the later seasons is that it's basically the writers calling her on her crap. My response to every horrible thing Lois has done over the years is, "This is who Lois has always been under the surface. It's just the writers are now owning it instead of hinting at it." That's actually a very good thing.

That's also arguably what they've done with Brian, but they go too far there. I don't think Brian is a worse person than Peter or Quagmire. But I don't think he's better either, which is alarming for a character who used to be an audience surrogate.

I don't think Chris is necessary nicer OR meaner in the later episodes, but he's more well-rounded.

Meg is all over the map in recent seasons, and wholly inconsistent. When they are making Meg jokes in the background, she's trashing Anne Frank's house, or strangling cats, or is a secret serial killer. But when they do the episode from Meg's perspective I find her wholly relatable in the later seasons in a way she isn't in the early episodes where the only thing she cared about was the fact that she wasn't popular at school.

As for Peter, no matter what he does now, he will never be as absolutely horrible as he was in that first season. One of the things that I appreciate about the later seasons is that it portrays Peter's bad behavior as malicious and ill-intentioned, whereas the earlier episodes acted like Peter simply didn't know any better. That was a terrible message to send the audience, and Lois always forgave him with a halfhearted apology that he didn't mean. They still do that, but usually Peter is also roundly punished for his behavior and called on it by the other characters. The reason I find earlier Peter worse and meaner is because the other characters tolerate him as if he's a lovable well-meaning sitcom dad. I think Peter is a sociopath and knows exactly what he is doing, and the later episodes have that be the other characters' reactions, so it's more tolerable.

Look, this is not to excuse the behavior of the characters in the later seasons. This is a pretty reprehensible group of people. The difference to me, and it's a big and meaningful difference, is that the show often (if not always) show consequences for the characters' actions, whereas they are no longer acting Peter like pretending he's a God and exploiting the town is a funny and harmless flaw. Peter has always been a sociopath. The later episodes are better because the other characters and the show itself treats him that way. Most of the time at least, although God knows Lois has forgiven Peter for stuff that a sane woman would be filing for divorce over. And as bad as he is, he's still never done anything close to as bad as that revenge porn thing. Which is saying something.
 

Zanneck

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First off, Stewie is nicer in the later episodes, and Brian is nicer in the earlier episodes. Those are pretty indisputable so we'll use them as a baseline.

I don't find Lois all that much nicer in the earlier seasons. In fact, one of the things I appreciate about how mean she is in the later seasons is that it's basically the writers calling her on her crap. My response to every horrible thing Lois has done over the years is, "This is who Lois has always been under the surface. It's just the writers are now owning it instead of hinting at it." That's actually a very good thing.

That's also arguably what they've done with Brian, but they go too far there. I don't think Brian is a worse person than Peter or Quagmire. But I don't think he's better either, which is alarming for a character who used to be an audience surrogate.

I don't think Chris is necessary nicer OR meaner in the later episodes, but he's more well-rounded.

Meg is all over the map in recent seasons, and wholly inconsistent. When they are making Meg jokes in the background, she's trashing Anne Frank's house, or strangling cats, or is a secret serial killer. But when they do the episode from Meg's perspective I find her wholly relatable in the later seasons in a way she isn't in the early episodes where the only thing she cared about was the fact that she wasn't popular at school.

As for Peter, no matter what he does now, he will never be as absolutely horrible as he was in that first season. One of the things that I appreciate about the later seasons is that it portrays Peter's bad behavior as malicious and ill-intentioned, whereas the earlier episodes acted like Peter simply didn't know any better. That was a terrible message to send the audience, and Lois always forgave him with a halfhearted apology that he didn't mean. They still do that, but usually Peter is also roundly punished for his behavior and called on it by the other characters. The reason I find earlier Peter worse and meaner is because the other characters tolerate him as if he's a lovable well-meaning sitcom dad. I think Peter is a sociopath and knows exactly what he is doing, and the later episodes have that be the other characters' reactions, so it's more tolerable.

Look, this is not to excuse the behavior of the characters in the later seasons. This is a pretty reprehensible group of people. The difference to me, and it's a big and meaningful difference, is that the show often (if not always) show consequences for the characters' actions, whereas they are no longer acting Peter like pretending he's a God and exploiting the town is a funny and harmless flaw. Peter has always been a sociopath. The later episodes are better because the other characters and the show itself treats him that way. Most of the time at least, although God knows Lois has forgiven Peter for stuff that a sane woman would be filing for divorce over. And as bad as he is, he's still never done anything close to as bad as that revenge porn thing. Which is saying something.

And thank you for explaining to me why this show sucks so much, IMHO - it's just jerks being jerks and not much else to show for it. How this show is still going on like it is is anyone's guess..
 

Dantheman

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I don't care what anybody else says, that bit from an early Family Guy episode about a science teacher mad that the theory of evolution that Gil Gerard traveled back in time and ejaculated into the primordial ooze being banned to teach in the state will always be funny to me.
 
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