The best mature cartoon on television: 'The Simpsons'
"The Simpsons", the longest running Primetime series in the history of American television entered into its 25th season this fall. Often imitated but never duplicated, "The Simpsons" has remained the gold standard for adult oriented animated sitcoms.
There is one series in particular that has been pointed to as being a blatant rip off of the program, Seth MacFarlane's hit program "Family Guy."
I tend to disagree with such commentators as I find that both programs have a distinct voice, sense of humor, and overall style. While each series has had its fair share of high and low points throughout their runs, I'd like to argue that "The Simpsons," now more so than ever remains the superior program.
Whereas your standard "Simpsons" episode will feature ingenious uses of pop culture references and instances of humourously intended physical violence, in the plot of any given episode, "Family Guy" takes the use of such tactics and makes them the backbone for a particular episode's comedy. In other words, "The Simpsons" wins the audience over with a well written and unique storyline whereas "Family Guy" will more often than not attempt to incite laughter with absurd pop culture based "cutaway gags" which more often than not have little to do with the plot of the episode itself, and by using random acts of violence between characters in order to get "cheap laughs." For example, you would never see Homer attempt to physically assault Marge, but its an all too common site to witness a Peter Griffin do something similar to his wife Lois or vice versa.
"Family Guy" will often resort to low brow "potty humor" for the sake of a cheap laugh, whereas "The Simpsons" by comparison was never that reliant on such vulgar tactics.
"The Simpsons," like many traditional sitcoms also often ends each episode on a touching, light -hearted moment, where a moral lesson or the like was learned by a character.
"Family Guy" on the other hand extremely rarely ends on anything other than another cheap pun.
In all honesty, I find each program brilliant in their own regards. While I do prefer "The Simpsons" due to what I perceive to generally be a superiorly written program to the comparatively lowbrow comedy of "Family Guy", I find myself often laughing just as easily when viewing each of them. In the end, I suppose a laugh is a laugh, not matter how its achieved.
That said, despite going through its own series of highs and lows, if one is to (wisely) tune into recent episodes of "The Simpsons" they will be greeted by a sharply written and still quite funny program worthy of the "Simpsons" name. However, in the past few seasons "Family Guy" has taken a major trip downhill. As to be expected when series creator Seth MacFarlane is intricately involved in other projects such as hosting the "Academy Awards" and directing films like the brilliant "Ted," the show's current reliance on "comedy" designed to be controversial and ignite shock value simply for the sake of it (rather than in the past when it was utilized to serve a genuinely funny gag), as of today place "Family Guy" leagues lower than the ever constant "Simpsons."
Bonus Round: "The Simpsons" has featured classic runnings gags in the intro to the program since its inception. Whether it be Bart's Chalkboard gag, Lisa's Saxophone gag, or the standard Couch gag, these minor bits of additional humor give Simpsons fans an extra bit of comedy to look forward to each episode. Family Guy, with the exception of a single episode, is simply the same old song and dance.
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