Seth MacFarlane’s Racist, Sexist New Show, Dads

The Family Guy creator only has two moves. Neither of them are that funny.

When last seen, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was stepping before the camera to turn the honored act of hosting the Oscars into a high-profile act of slut-shaming and ethnic jokes. Everybody got mad for a couple of days, everybody else pointed out that the Oscar telecast actually had pretty good ratings, and eventually the hubbub died down.

Now MacFarlane is back with a new live-action comedy for Fox called Dads. And it appears that his new project will be … a high-profile act of slut-shaming and ethnic jokes. This, it seems, is cutting edge humor in the 21st century. Take a look:

My initial reaction? Gross.

Consider what’s supposed to be funny in this four-minute clip.

• A riff on the “Chicago Way” scene from The Untouchables: ”They bring knives, you bring guns, etc.” This isn’t actually offensive, it’s just lazy: I’ve seen the same bit—with several young actors doing deliberately bad Sean Connery impressions—on at least two sitcoms just this season. Unfortunately, this is about as sharp and innovative as the writing’s going to get.

• Because next up, we meet an Asian-American woman who complains that her father “beat me with a math book….”

• Right before this same Asian-American woman is required by her bosses to dress (against her wishes, apparently) as a “sexy Asian schoolgirl”—complete with embarrassed tittering—for the sexual gratification of visiting Chinese businessmen.

• Topped off with Martin Mull, portraying one of the titular dads, bursting into that meeting in order to warn his son that the Chinese businessmen will probably cheat him because that’s how Chinese people are. “There’s a reason ‘Shanghai’ is a verb,” Mull warns.

• And where to start with the broken-English Latina maid?

None of these tropes would’ve been out of place in a mediocre ’80s sitcom. Including the Untouchables bit.

MacFarlane, of course, tries to have it both ways—he wants to get laughs from the transgressions against good taste while acknowledging the transgressions, implicitly neutering them so the audience won’t have to feel bad about laughing at the naughty stuff.

So our young Asian actress gets to be indignant, yet still play along, because otherwise she wouldn’t be any fun. One of the protagonists turns out to have an Asian girlfriend who is also offended by his efforts to exploit the young woman, yet probably will stick around anyway—or else she wouldn’t be any fun. And our protagonists get to be embarrassed by the dad’s overt, public racism without being tainted by it themselves—because that wouldn’t be any fun.

The point, though, is to get the laughs and the “woo woo” behavior that comes from trafficking in the stereotypes in the first place. Otherwise, why go there?

The problem with Seth MacFarlane’s humor, as always, is that he’s almost always punching down instead of punching up. He’s picking on people who have always been picked upon, and he thinks he’s hilarious for doing so. What’s more, he’s making a lot of money from other people who enjoy that sort of thing. But that doesn’t make him funny. It makes him one of those fratboy douchebags who seem to be everywhere in life, even into middle age, making uncomfortably insulting wisecracks that always seem to end with the protest that “I’m just joking.” The result? The two white guys are the straight men in this bit. Everybody else—foreign, old, female—is ripe for the ribbing.

A few years ago, South Park made fun of MacFarlane with a riff that depicted his comedy writing style as being about as clever as manatees randomly pushing around big rubber balls:

Not much has changed. Seth MacFarlane is still clearly making comedy with his tired old balls. Only he’s got two left—”racist joke” and “sexist joke.” Without them, it seems, he clearly wouldn’t have any balls at all.

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  • Cerberus

    I like Matt Stone and Trey Parker but their beef with Macfarlane had more to do with the fact that their careers have stalled and Seth’s hasn’t. Matt and Trey are out of sight and out of mind until Seth makes someone mad.I wonder how that makes them feel, knowing that they are only mentioned when Seth is mentioned.

    • http://twitter.com/rita_cannon Rita Cannon

      Have their careers really stalled? “The Book of Mormon” was (and is) a pretty enormous success, and South Park is still running and highly rated. If that’s what stalled career looks like, I’ll sign up for one right now.

      • Cerberus

        Stalled was the wrong word to use. It’s more like Seth no longer lives in the same neighborhood as Matt and Trey. Seth has the better contract that gives him more creative control. Comedy Central continues to screw Matt and Trey over. Seth McFarlane has ultimate creative control: he do whatever he wants in Family Guy. He’s allowed to put together THREE different cuts: director’s cut (the one on DVD), the Fox version (censored), and the Adult Swim edit . If he gets an episode banned, it’s released onto DVD uncensored.

        Parker and Stone DON’T have the freedom Seth has. They have to get everything run through standards and practices before it airs and by all accounts, Comedy Central is stricter than Adult Swim, right down to pulling episodes from repeats if someone is offended. Yes they do uncensored versions, but the only thing uncensored is the language and they don’t have the freedom to restore things to episodes that standard and practices won’t let them include in the broadcast version, for the streaming/DVD version.
        Seth’s movie Ted also made more money than all of Matt and Trey’s movies combined. Ted is also getting a sequel and he can sign top tier stars for his next movie “A million ways to die in the West” Book Of Mormon is a great broadway show but it’s just a Broadway show.
        Then you have to throw in the fact that not only Seth’s career as a director is going better than Matt and Trey’s his forays in front of the camera are working out as well.

        • http://www.facebook.com/emma.punnett Emma Kiermaier

          congratulations, you have successfully taken the debate WAY off topic.

        • Michael James Mortensen

          you seem to confuse money with artistic talent, from what I see the only thing that Macfarlane can believably convey is sneering at things. The fact that it’s so popular says far more about the quality of the audience than the creator.

        • TKS

          Matt and Trey are one Phil Collins away from an EGOT, Which will
          probably be rectified if Book of Mormon becomes a movie, which it looks
          like it is.

          And your “Matt and Trey have no control” is kind of bunk. Comedy Central tried to pull one of the episodes out of syndication because they thought it went too far. Matt and Trey responded that if Comedy Central did they would quit. Comedy Central doesn’t really have much else at the moment, so no episodes have been pulled.

          South Park has had 17 consistently good seasons. Family Guy, the crown jewel of MacFarlane’s crown, has been canceled multiple times. If we’re comparing careers, there’s really no competition.

          “Just a Broadway show” …please.

  • Mountains2Sea

    This article totally made me excited for the show. Sounds funny as hell.

  • Djayed

    Apparently the author needs to wash his vagina before writing an article. Lighten up Joel! it will do you good!

    • hijklmnop

      wow lol so funny two thumbs up (in case you can’t tell i am being sarcastic)

  • Emma Reed

    hoo boy that sounds awful. great article, good points. Good comedy (to me) has never been the big guy beating up the little guy. And Seth has kicked the little guy into a coma.

  • Tyler Durden

    Actually, the FOX promo trailer for this series reminded me of a South Park episode where they lampooned movie trailers for upcoming comedies. All it was missing was Adam Sandler and a duck with excrement flying out of its mouth every time it quacked.

  • dorkgeniuz21

    This sounds the like difference between Sony & Microsoft….lol

  • ethan stenhouse

    You all are idiots and clearly do not understand the point of macfarlanes humor you all just see what on top and go with it instead of getting the underlining humor he doesnt make fun of ppl he makes fun of the ppl out there who do this kind of behavior. .in otherwords he like hes said before what he does is “hold a mirror up to society and are saying we dnt like this this is how u look” and its aimed towards racists and aimed towards the cruelty of ppl who pick on others for whatever reason hes said it iver and over but the fact is ppl are going to find anything to complain or hate at someone who is more successful then they are aka this writer this show may suck but dont knock a man whose comedy is to make fun of the ppl who make fun of ppl someone needs to do it…as per southpark debate how about both creators are great in what they do? They bith have the simpsons to thank so lets end that with there both great.

  • Alexander Kleinkopf

    I love how this dumbass just ended up making some people more excited for the show. Hurr hurr, “slut-shaming”, rofl, degenerate fucktard.

  • Society no longer exists.

    I’m so glad that films by minorities, starring minorities,have steered clear of stereotypes and racial slurs. Otherwise, this criticism would be a massive load of hypocrisy.

  • Louise B

    I’ve started a movement to boycott Dads:

    https://www.facebook.com/BoycottDads

  • Louis Gridley Wu

    We need to boycott this shit racist show. I’ve started a movement:

    http://boycottdads.wordpress.com/

    https://www.facebook.com/BoycottDadsTheShow

    https://www.change.org/petitions/dads-by-seth-macfarlane-i-want-them-to-stop-stereotyping-Asians

    I also found the phone number for the production office of Dads:
    310-369-8617