Nine months after announcing on-air that it was “trying to phase out” gay jokes, Family Guy offered a clarification of sorts on Sunday.
In the episode, titled “Disney’s The Reboot,” a focus group was assembled to help choose a new direction for the show, now in its 18th season. Following a scene with jokes about Peter’s sexuality, one group member said, “I thought I read you guys were phasing out gay jokes,” to which Peter replied, “That quote was taken out of context and widely misunderstood.”
For the sake of jogging your memory, let’s go back a bit: A Family Guy episode that aired in Jan. 2019 found Peter and President Trump debating which of them is a bigger detriment to society. “Many children have learned their favorite Jewish, black and gay jokes by watching your show over the years,” Trump said, prompting Peter to reply, “In fairness, we’ve been trying to phase out the gay stuff.”
During a follow-up interview about that episode, TVLine asked executive producers Alec Sulkin and Rich Appel if Peter’s response was, in fact, reflective of the show’s new position. Specifically, was Family Guy really phasing out jokes about the LGBT community?
“Kind of, yes,” Sulkin told TVLine. “If you look at a show from 2005 or 2006 and put it side by side with a show from 2018 or 2019, they’re going to have a few differences. Some of the things we felt comfortable saying and joking about back then, we now understand is not acceptable.”
Added Appel, “If a show has literally been on the air for 20 years, the culture changes. And it’s not us reacting and thinking, ‘They won’t let us [say certain things].’ No, we’ve changed too. The climate is different, the culture is different and our views are different. They’ve been shaped by the reality around us, so I think the show has to shift and evolve in a lot of different ways.”
Back to Sunday’s episode… It’s unclear whether the “widely misunderstood” quote was Peter’s initial declaration that Family Guy has been “trying to phase out the gay stuff,” or one of the quotes given to TVLine by the show’s EPs, which were picked up internationally by outlets like CNN and BBC News.
What seems to be clear, however, is that Family Guy isn’t planning to make any special exceptions for the LGBT community moving forward. (That much was apparent two weeks ago when Brian struggled with the “shame” of dating Joe’s father, a transgender woman. Meanwhile, not once was Ida expected to feel shameful for dating, you know, an actual dog.)
Your thoughts on Family Guy‘s approach towards the LGBT community? Drop ’em in a comment below.