Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane says he has no regrets over trans character’s representation

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane says he has no regrets over trans character’s representation
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Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, has said that he doesn’t regret how trans character Ida Davies was represented in the show. 


Back in 2010, in episode 18 of season 8 of Family Guy entitled Quagmire’s Dad, they introduced main character Glenn Quagmire’s U.S. Navy veteran father who had transitioned since they last met. A variety of jokes ensued that make Dave Chappelle look like a kids TV presenter. 


Any fan of Family Guy will know that there is literally NO subject that the show will not rip to pieces no matter how sensitive, but in today’s climate does MacFarlane look back and think perhaps they went too hard on the trans character? After all, it was only this week that Friends creator Marta Kauffman had a LOT to say on the subject. 


When asked about Ida, MacFarlane said: “Look, there are always things that you would do differently when you look back at earlier points in your career. For me, it’s more about nuance. There isn’t a big change I would make. It’s more about individual moments and individual jokes.”


MacFarlane also created the show The Orville which has queer characters all over the place, including a trans character in a recent episode of season 3 that is beautifully done. Seth uses humour to dissipate most awkward situations and as a queer person who is a HUGE fan of Family Guy and American Dad, I know the gay jokes aren’t mean spirited, no matter how they might seem on the surface. 


He continued: “The intent of the Family Guy episode was to show that Quagmire’s father was still a war hero, and still someone that he could look up to and respect. Actually, that episode was written by Steve Callaghan, a writer on Family Guy, who had the same experience with his own parent – his father had transitioned to a woman – and he was writing, in many ways, from his own experience.”


Unlike with Marta Kauffman, Family Guy is an animated show and the numerous jokes about religion, culture, politics, war and sexuality are par for the course. The show is designed to be offensive but even Family Guy executive producer Alec Sulkin said in an interview: “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.”


So when’s a cheap joke allowed and when is it to be vilified? The thing with animation is it isn’t just blurted out or said by mistake, each episode of Family Guy takes months to make. Clearly MacFarlane is interested in nuance and recognises that some of the earlier episodes perhaps lacked sone of the finesse that wouldn’t be allowed these days.


I guess the difference is that these are cartoon characters saying the words and if you are a fan of Family Guy and American Dad, you can pretty much expect it. As for South Park, I wouldn’t even GO there if I were you. Here is a montage the scenes in question which we should say some viewers will find them offensive. As it happens, Ida is fabulous and is calm, classy and collected throughout which was obviously MacFarlane’s intention. 


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