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Worst of the Week

Family Guy on Fox

Christopher Gildemeister

Release Date: 12/19/2013

A child shot in the head – on the anniversary of Newtown. This was Seth MacFarlane’s early Christmas presents to the American people last Sunday night. No wonder the December 15th episode of Fox’s Family Guy (9:00 p.m. ET) is the Worst TV Show of the Week.

The creator of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane, wasted no time in showing the heinous child murder. In the opening seconds of the Family Guy episode, the family is shown watching the movie Home Alone. In the actual Home Alone, a young boy humorously foils a pair of burglars with tricks such as scattering toy cars on the floor and ice on the stairs. In MacFarlane’s version, the burglars notice the tricks immediately and avoid them. When the little boy appears at the top of the stairs, one burglar whirls and shoots him in the middle of the forehead, blood spraying out and coating the wall behind the little boy. The child’s corpse tumbles down the stairs, then lies at the burglar’s feet. Blood has dribbled down the boy’s face and covers his entire chest. The child’s corpse lies, twisted and broken with mouth agape, at the robbers’ feet. “Well, now there are no witnesses,” one shrugs.

In our new study of media violence, the PTC found that the most violent shows on broadcast TV have essentially similar levels of violence as the most violent cable TV shows, rendering untrue the popular assumption that broadcast TV is a “safer” media environment for children. Yet, even most violent cable programs would not show a little child being shot in the head; and if they did (on such programs as The Walking Dead), it would not be treated as a subject of humor. Thus, this is yet another case when prime-time broadcast TV is even worse than graphic cable programming.

It’s worth noting that this episode appeared almost to the day of the one-year anniversary of the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut – and two days after another school shooting in Colorado. That Seth MacFarlane is utterly insensitive to genuine tragedy has, of course, been proven over the course of a decade’s worth of Family Guy. But choosing to show a child being murdered on the anniversary of a mass murder of children appears calculated and deliberate. Thus, MacFarlane demonstrates his total contempt and lack of concern for grieving parents and terrified children.

MacFarlane would protest that this is “comedy” and “satire.” But what kind of depraved mind considers the murder of children humorous? And what kind of network deliberately shows a cartoon containing such programming – then rates it TV-14, acceptable for young teens who are barely out of childhood themselves? (This demonstrates another finding of PTC’s study – that the TV ratings system is failing to protect children and families due to the fact that the broadcast networks are assigning a younger age rating than similarly violent programs on cable.)

Millions of children watch Family Guy every Sunday night. Obviously, both Seth MacFarlane and the Fox network think it is appropriate to show little children images of little children being shot in the head -- on the anniversary of a tragic school shooting in which more than a dozen real children were shot and killed.

For terrorizing millions of children by showing a child being murdered, Fox’s Family Guy is the Worst TV Show of the Week.