Family Guy on Transgender Issues

Family Guy had an episode, season 8 episode 18, where you finally met Quagmire’s dad. I know this was a few months old, but I just unsubscribed to Family Guy on hulu, so it was brought back to my attention.*

If you haven’t seen the episode I’ll supply a very brief description here and you can get more detailed in the wiki article or watch it somewhere.   Quagmire’s dad comes to visit and eventaully reveals that he is getting sex reassignment surgery.  Quagmire freaks out for awhile.  Brian sleeps with her, not knowing it is Quagmire’s father**  When he finds out later he throws up a LOT.  It was a firehose of vomit for around a minute.  At the end of the episode Quagmire and his father reconcile.

Since I haven’t watched this episode in a while and can’t bring myself to do it again my points will be vague.  I’m hoping that those of you who haven’t seen will watch it yourselves and see what you think.  And those of you who have I hope you will consider my points.  Either way, I want to hear your opinions.  Also, I can’t help but compare this to South Park.  South Park has done, in my opinion, a really good job of handling transgender stuff with Mr/Mrs Garrison.  This is not really a fair comparison, but I find it hard to care.  There are two reactions I want to point out: Quagmire’s and Brian’s.

Quagmire’s reactions to his father are understandable in a way.  They were probably a bit strong, but the core reaction of surprise, anger and a bit of betrayal make sense.  His parent was literally altering who he/she was in Quagmire’s eyes.  Add to that that he just sprang it on him and you can understand those emotions.  Then consider that Quagmire is clearly emotionally stunted.  Eventually he accepts his father as being the person he has always loved, even if it is clear that it will take some time to get used to her new form and public identification.

Brian’s, however, was just so over the top.  Yes, being uncomfortable, even very uncomfortable, with finding out your sexual partner is not the gender you thought he or she was is likely to be disturbing.  In our minds, gender is often one of the core aspects of a person.  But to be that disgusted?  Especially after Brian’s dating history. Of course, they have proved over and over that Brian tries to be a liberal, but he is faking it almost all the way.

Overall, I remember it leaving me feeling like something was left unfinished and insulting.  Maybe it was the lack of the general sum up you get at the end of South Park.  Them saying “Yes, we were dicks here.  It was just funny and we were making fun of the people who really feel this way.”  Maybe it was just that Brian’s reaction was so absurd that my desire to understand Family Guy’s point was just stopped.  And perhaps Family Guy should leave the serious and real issues to be covered by South Park and stick with epic battles with giant chickens and hilarious british babies having sexy parties.

*I didn’t stop watching the show because of this episode.  It was just the last nail in the coffin.  I used to LOVE the show, especially the stuff like when Peter hurt himself and for like two minutes just rocked back and forth in mild pain.

** I chose to stick with the “male” term for parent, since that is the role he played in Quagmire’s life.  If you know of any forums of debate over this, please link them to me.



About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
This entry was posted in media, Opinion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Family Guy on Transgender Issues

  1. Ben says:

    To be honest, this whole episode just pissed me off.

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