‘Inside Family Guy’ Tells You Everything You Need To Know About the Show, and Everything You Don’t
Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History, a coffee-table book by Frazier Moore about one of the most popular TV shows of all time, interested me when I first saw it. I’ve been watching Family Guy since I was probably too young, so I knew more about it than the average viewer. I wondered if I would get anything out of this book. How comprehensive the book would it be? Would it touch on every aspect of the show?
The book excellently encompasses the entire making of Family Guy. It begins with a foreword from Seth MacFarlane, and then proceeds to explain nearly every production technique of the show, technical or otherwise. It talks about the controversy of certain episodes, like the entire episode attacking the FCC for censoring the Fox network. The book also tells why certain lines were written the way they were.
The illustrations are of high quality and numerous throughout the book. Given that it’s an animated show, endless boring pages of text just wouldn’t make sense. Moore provides lots of examples of how the animators drew and illustrated the characters. He even shows pictures of the voice actors and cast and crew.
This book doesn’t just scratch the surface. It tries to give the full scoop on the show, with real in-depth information. It has numerous quotes from MacFarlane where he explains his thought process behind each step of the show, and also features interviews with the other producers, actors, and writers. The book tries to emphasize their importance. “Here Appel was: a former writer for The Harvard Lampoon turned assistant U.S. attorney for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, who then had relapsed into comedy writing.”
It also touches on the running gags of the show, explaining them to their fullest. The book carefully illustrates the story behind certain jokes that caused controversy or were very popular. Family Guy has always touched on sensitive issues through the use of song. Their songs about AIDS and marijuana legalization, shocking at the time, turned controversial issues into fun musical notes. The book provides whole stories about jokes and why they are a certain way. Next time I watch Family Guy I’ll be able to say, “Hey I know how they did that.” It gives a meaning to a lot of the show’s fun and often over-the-top humor.
The book talks about the show from its start to the present, not telling the whole story at once, but gradually throughout the book. This keeps you engaged and makes you want to read the book to its end. Family Guy isn’t afraid to break the fourth wall or test its limits, and the book makes excellent note of that. It even talks about their change to the 16:9 aspect ratio format, explaining how there’s a whole episode about this, turning what would be a normal TV show technical switch into a gag for the rest of the episode.
Towards the end of the book, Moore starts comparing the looks of characters from the start of the show to now. He even compares the show’s most used settings, like the living room or the Drunken Clam, the bar where Peter Griffin and his friends hang out.
Finally, he includes a section about the impact of Seth MacFarlane leaving the show’s writer’s room. Once again, they include interviews and quotes from the actual crew of the show, which just solidifies the book’s legitimacy and quality. “We had been mentally preparing for it for a while,” says Shannon Smith, one of the show’s producers. “But it was nerve-racking. “When he left, I had these jelly bracelets made up for everybody: ‘WWSD?’ What Would Seth Do?”
Inside Family Guy pleasantly surprised me with it’s comprehensive look at the world of Family Guy. From the cast and crew to the animation style, it covers every aspect of what makes Family Guy a fun and entertaining show. I highly recommend reading it, especially if you’re a Family Guy fan. You won’t be disappointed.
(Dey Street Books, May 14, 2019)