For only the 2nd time since it began airing in 1999, the controversial animated sitcom Family Guy has had an episode canceled by parent company Fox.
The 1st stifled episode, censored in 2000 but later aired in 2004 and available on DVD, was "When you wish upon a Weinstein," considered anti-Semitic.
Now Fox has censored "Partial terms of endearment," an episode about abortion, storyline unknown.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane revealed the controversy on July 25 at the comic book convention Comic-Con. According to Monsters and Critics:
Riding high off its respectability of an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, MacFarlane and the rest of the Family Guy panel teased future episodes, and the episode which will most likely not air, where Mila Kunis' Meg gets raped in prison, dubbed the "abortion episode."
"Twentieth Century Fox, as always, allowed us to produce the episode and then said, 'You know what? We're scared to f-cking death of this,'" MacFarlane said.
When asked for further comment, MacFarlane e-mailed a statement: "Clearly my sarcasm doesn't come across in print. I completely support whatever decision Fox makes. We were allowed to take a crack at this controversial story and that's enough for me."
Well, here is the decision MacFarlane must "completely support," according to a Fox statement posted by TV Guide July 29:
Fox will not air the 'Partial Terms of Endearment' episode of Family Guy, but we fully support the producers' right to make the episode and distribute it in whatever way they want.
Most interesting was pro-abort trepidation re: Fox's decision. Wrote Jezebel:
Surely the episode will fit right into the other hilarious takes on women that Family Guy is so fond of, like, say, rape jokes, or shooting prostitutes as a form of "community service," or punching them in the face as they cry, "I don't understand! What did I do wrong?" You know, really hilarious stuff.
The Live Feed:
There were few details offered about the content of the episode, but given the show's penchant for political incorrectness - it has in the past featured a character wearing a McCain/Palin button on an SS uniform, among other flourishes - it's unlikely Planned Parenthood would use the episode in a PSA anytime soon.
If you want a textbook example of how systemic sexism works, the taboo about portraying abortion on TV will suffice. It's the most common outpatient procedure in the country, and yet we write it off as fringe. There's only 694k open heart surgeries a year on average, 600k hysterectomies, and 193k hip replacements a year - but there's 1.2 million abortions performed every year.
But I'll bet you could find more people who claim they don't know anyone personally who's had an abortion than make the same claim about hysterectomies, heart surgery, or hip replacement. Of course, they do know someone who's had an abortion, most likely, but she's mum about it, because of this taboo against speaking about it. And that troubling taboo creates ridiculous situations where shows like Family Guy that get away with pretty much anything can't do a show about abortion.
And Sarah Seltzer at RH Reality Check:
TV has created this bizarro world where a choice that most American women would consider strongly after an unintended pregnancy is all but erased.
It's a damning silence. And that silence is why jokes about abortion, even if they're off-color, are different from other types of misogynist jokes (specifically rape jokes). Yes, the proliferation of rape jokes can do damage by trivializing a horrible and all too accepted crime. But conversely the lack of abortion jokes creates this hyped-up atmosphere of tragedy and controversy around something that is quite common and needs to be discussed more. Even if Seth McFarlane and the Family Guy team failed miserably to be funny or edgy in their attempts to milk humor from abortion, even if they were crass and sexist, I'd hope the episode would be an opening salvo for more comics, artists and others to talk about this reality in women's lives that, like all realities, has to contain fodder for humor.
No it doesn't. The interesting phenomenon is that the longer legalized abortion is with us, the more unfunny and tabooed it becomes. This indicates an increasing unease by everyone - even liberal Hollywood - with abortion. Ultrasounds show abortion kills children. Post-abortion mothers say abortion leaves deep scars. And how many silent post-abortive fathers - including writers, producers, and directors - know that to be true as well.
Not many cultural experiences grow touchier as time goes on. Usually there is the opposite effect.