The Simpsons may have the Emmys and Bob’s Burgers might have the critical acclaim, but Family Guy has been named “Worst TV Show of the Week” by the conservative advocacy group Parents Television Council multiple times, and something tells me that creator Seth MacFarlane is more proud of that than any award. Family Guy aims to push the “boundaries of comedy,” as MacFarlane said in a 20th anniversary piece, even if that means getting censored by your own network for using a made-up curse word.
In the season four episode “Patriot Games,” news anchor Tom Tucker goes into an in-show commercial break by teasing, “Coming up, America’s new curse word: ‘cleeman.’ We’ll tell you what it means after this.” We never find out what “cleeman” means, although, according to writer Chris Sheridan, it was originally a stand-in for “vagina.”
“[Family Guy] has been on long enough that we did a bit once where we had the word ‘vagina’ in an episode,” he told CinemaBlend. “They said, ‘You can’t say vagina on the air.’ So we changed the word and we just came up with our own word and called it ‘cleeman.’ We just swapped out ‘vagina’ with ‘cleeman,’ and it was like, ‘Oh, we’ll just say that. No problem.’ And then several years later, we did a joke, and we use the word ‘cleeman,’ and they’re like, ‘Well you can’t say that.’ And we’re like, ‘What do you mean we can’t say it?’ ‘Well no, it means vagina.’ I was like, ‘I know! We made it up.'”
The word — which may also be spelled “kleeman,” because, again, it’s fake — is now on Urban Dictionary, where it means, “A slang word that means any derogative remark toward another (such as douche, asswipe, etc.).” Sheridan added, “But it made its way into the Urban Dictionary, and then we couldn’t say it. I was like, ‘I think that’s unfair.’ So when a show is on that long, it’s insane.” Those censors are a bunch of cleemans.