One of the most irreverent and openly crude shows on network television these days is Family Guy. The Family Guy fan base is vast, almost as large as its detractors, and when the show went off the air in 2002, it took only three years of amazing DVD sales and Adult Swim ratings to bring it back. One of the keys to the Family Guy formula is to take key points from 80 years of popular culture and poke fun and satirize.
The list of amazing Family Guy episodes is huge, but when you’ve got 75 episodes to go through, where do you start (that is of course if you decide not to watch every single episode five times). Some of the best episodes from the Family Guy archive are those that take the most ravenous attitude towards that which they satirize. Without further ado, the top five satirical episodes of Family Guy
1. There’s Something About Paulie -Season 2. In this send up of the mobster mentality in which Peter is enlisted to see that Big Fat Paulie, a Jersey mobsters relative is taken care of during his visit to Quahog, when he accidentally gets Paulie to put a hit out on Lois. Chaos ensues, ending in the Godfather’s daughter’s wedding and a Tiramisu. Classic family guy humor with some solid asides.
2. Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington – Season 3. Peter almost gets fired after he skips work for a baseball game. The El Dorado Cigarette Company buys the company and he gets lucky in retaining his job. They send him to Washington as a tobacco lobbyist where he finally sees the errors of his ways after Stewie starts smoking and gains a rattling cough. Classic send ups of political culture and films ensue. Jabs at Bob Dole, Martha Stewart, and presidential candidates Gore and Bush.
3. From Method to Madness – Stewie joins an acting school where he meets Olivia and a classic rags to riches together story ensues, after which Stewie fails and Olivia lives on without him. One of my favorite scenes in the entire series occurs here when Olivia says to Stewie, “You are the weakest link” referencing the short lived game show of the same era. Stewie retorts with a long protracted assault on her intelligence in classic Stewie form.
4. Brian Goes Back to College – Brian loses his new job at the New Yorker for not finishing his college education. After which he decides to go back to Brown. The Stewie/Brian tag along plotline is fully established by this point in the series, so Stewie goes with him. Stewie loves the college life while Brian attempts to quit, incapable of completing his final class. The academic battle, with the Rocky themes, and the classic college film stereotypes makes this a great episode.
5. Da Boom – An oldie but a goody, playing off of the whole Y2K fears of the late 90s. Airing the day after Christmas in 1999, the episode follows the destruction of the worlds infrastructure and the post apocalyptic travels of the Griffin family to find a Twinkie factory that they might be able to live off of. The mutations of their friends and reformation of the landscape is reminiscent of the post nuclear classics of the 50s and 60s and Stewie eventually turns into an Octopus. The finale of the episode is a throwback to the whole Dallas fiasco when Bobby is in the shower and Pam describes her “dream”. The height of irony and satire of the quasi-mass hysteria the world almost felt at the end of 1999.
Family guy is more than five great episodes. Up until a small chunk of season 4 back in 2005, the show was pure genius and every one of Seth McFarlane’s vignettes into Rhode Island suburbia is a treat to watch over and over again.