Family Guy is about to turn 20, which means it’s time to grow up. In this case, it means stopping with one of their go-to source of humor: gay people, specifically the gay panic jokes that used to be a staple of just about any popular comedy program or film. Deadline reports that series co-creator Rich Appel and executive producer Alec Sulkin have decided the show should evolve and move on.
“If you look at a show from 2005 or 2006 and put it side by side with a show from 2018 or 2019, they’re going to have a few differences,” Sulkin told TV Line. “Some of the things we felt comfortable saying and joking about back then, we now understand is not acceptable.”
Since it first aired on January 31, 1999, Family Guy has regularly, enthusiastically courted controversy. But Appel and Sulkin acknowledge that things change, and that not adding to a toxic culture that otherizes people may not be worth perpetuating. Or maybe they realized gay jokes have always been lazy and hackish to begin with.
“[I]t’s not us reacting and thinking, ‘They won’t let us [say certain things],’” Appel said. “No, we’ve changed too. The climate is different, the culture is different and our views are different. They’ve been shaped by the reality around us, so I think the show has to shift and evolve in a lot of different ways.”
The most recent Family Guy found Donald Trump, who has been accused by nearly two dozen women of sexual misconduct, accused by Griffin daughter Meg of sexual misconduct. It has yet to inspire a barely coherent, punctuation-impaired tweet from the President of the United States of America, who may simply be a bit busy feeding fast food to athletes. And yet Appel and Sulkin insist its even-handed — or as even-handed as one can be in 2018.
“We’ve had some episodes in the past that had some left leanings in them,” Sulkin said. “But we take hard shots all around. We’ve made fun of the Clintons and Barack Obama. It’s not like we would avoid anyone because we vote this way or that way. In any time that Family Guy has been on, we’ve pointed out idiots and the dumb things they do. This just happens to be our current person, and it would be no different if a Democrat were doing something idiotic, which they do.”
Appel agreed, adding, “We’re not proselytizing for one political agenda; hypocrisy, lying and buffoonery in the public sphere should just be called out.”