From The Simpsons and South Park to Family Guy, animated satire centred arund dysfunctional families has found a home in the hearts of pop-culture pundits. But besides their obvious comical strengths, what these three have in common is their long reign in the spotlight: The Simpsons is still going strong two decades on, South Park is in its 15th year, and the 11th season of Family Guy debuted last month after 13 years on the circuit. To celebrate this milestone, we dig up some quirky facts you may not know about the Griffin family.
Silence of the fams
There’s something very offputting about Family Guy’s teenage knucklehead Chris Griffin, but you may not have been able to put your finger on it until now. Seth Green, who expertly voices the Griffin doofus (as well as annoying neighbour Neil Goldman), says he won the part by imitating one of the most twisted voices in cinema history: that of creepy serial killer Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. Green says he made it his own by imagining how the voice would sound through a PA. We may never be able to watch again.
What better way to tackle the ratings game than with some competitive spirit? On occasion, The Simpsons and Family Guy have been known to take digs at each other in a cartoon face-off, all in the name of comedy. During The Simpsons’ ‘Italian Bob’ episode, Family Guy dad Peter Griffin can be spotted on a Wanted poster saying ‘Plagarisimo’ (plagiarism). In a much more controversial move, a deleted scene from Family Guy’s ‘Movin’ Out (Brian’s Song)’ episode, which appears on the series DVDs, sees Quagmire hook up with Marge Simpson, before massacring all five of the Springfield clan when Homer catches them. Subtle.
On a slightly more serious note, the franchise almost came to a premature end following the launch of the third season in 2001. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, 39, was scheduled to fly on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Centre on September 11 2011. However, MacFarlane had spent the night partying with friends and arrived at the airport late, missing his flight. Now that’s Final Destination spooky.
Mila is Meg
Nerdy outcast Meg Griffin, the eldest daughter of parental catastrophes Peter and Lois, is often the brunt of her family’s jokes for her social awkwardness. But by contrast, the star that voices her character is one of Hollywood’s hottest properties. Since 1999, Russian-American looker Mila Kunis (who stars in That ‘70s Show, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Black Swan and No Strings Attached) has supplied the vocals for the self-conscious Meg. She was only 15 when she started work on the show, but McFarlane was so impressed with her that he rewrote the character slightly to fit with her voice.
Not your average animation
When it comes to TV’s top awards ceremony, the Emmys, animated comedies are often perceived as the little sister of real-life comedy, measured against their competitors in separate categories. But that all changed in 2009, when Family Guy became the first series to be nominated in the Best Comedy Series category since The Flintstones in 1961. Unfortunately, the gong ended up going to Tina Fey’s 30 Rock.
Better luck next year.
Season 11 of Family Guy is shown Thursdays at 10pm on OSN Comedy.