On Sunday, Fox finally aired the long-dreaded Family Guy episode in which Peter Griffin takes a job working at the White House and Donald Trump sexually assaults Meg. Nobody who worked on that would be blamed for wanting to just move on with their lives and pretend it never happened, but Family Guy executive producers Rich Appel and Alec Sulkin actually sat down with TVLine to discuss the important points from the episode, and virtually every response they gave to TVLine’s questions makes the episode seem even less appealing than it did before (which, in a way, is kind of an achievement).
For one thing, despite the fact that the episode culminates in a minutes-long fistfight between Trump and Peter (naturally), Sulkin and Appel try to play the South Park-style “we have no political angle” card. They point out that the show has made fun of the Clintons and Barack Obama in the past, so they’re only making fun of Trump in the episode because he’s the guy in power. “It would be no different if a Democrat were doing something idiotic,” Sulkin noted, with Appel adding that “hypocrisy, lying, and buffoonery in the public sphere should just be called out.” They also try to placate any angry Republican Family Guy fans by referencing a Reggie Jackson quote about how “they don’t boo nobodies,” so at least Trump isn’t a “nobody.”
The real meaty part of the interview, though, comes when TVLine asks about a line from the episode where Peter tells Trump that he’s been “trying to phase out” gay jokes. Sulkin and Appel admit that this is a real and conscious thing that the show has been doing lately, saying that what they were comfortable with back in 2005 is no longer acceptable and that they’re not doing it because anyone is forcing them to. They just recognized that “the show has to shift and evolve in a lot of different ways” to reflect the way “the culture changes.” The problem here is that nobody deserves credit for “trying to phase out gay jokes.” Not making gay jokes is very easy to do, and that has nothing to do with the fact that it’s 2019 and culture has changed since Family Guy started. Gay jokes aren’t okay now, and they also weren’t okay in 2005 when Family Guy was comfortable making them.
Also, Donald Trump sexually assaulted Meg and it was played as a joke! Family Guy’s take on whether or not gay jokes are okay is one thing, but that’s fucking crazy! How many writers and producers and network executives and animators and voice actors did that plot point have to go through before it made it to air on a network TV cartoon? Of course, this is the same show that had a gag over a decade ago in which Quagmire raped Marge Simpson and then murdered her entire family, so maybe the members of the Family Guy team haven’t matured as much as they think they have.