“Quagmire’s Quagmire” puts the viewer into something of a quagmire (I am so, so sorry). With the exception of the main plot, everything about this episode is great, and about as funny as Family Guy can be at this late date. But that plot is a doozy.
Trying to get his new MacBook repaired, Quagmire meets Sonia (Rachael MacFarlane) at the Apple store. It turns out she’s his dream girl, as kinky and insatiable as he is, and they hit it off—Glenn actually asks her out to dinner instead of taking her to his sex dungeon. Their meet-cute (both have identical taste in Latina porn) is actually kind of sweet, as is some of the insane stuff they do (rolling around in ink to form Chinese characters). There’s an awesome version of this episode where Quagmire and Sonia just get really kinky and weird with each other and find happiness with someone who accepts them, bizarre sexual habits and all. But this isn’t it.
Instead, “Quagmire’s Quagmire” asks us to reject Sonia as an insane, horrible woman for being more intense than Quagmire. It’s fine when she roofies Quagmire (that, gross as it is, is how they fall in love), and ridiculously uncomfortable when she gets him to have sex with his father (also gross). But then she becomes a stereotypical overbearing girlfriend when she bugs the Clam, for no real reason other than “that bitch cray.” She runs Glenn ragged until he has to try to find a word other than “no” to mean “no” (oh no!), and finally kidnaps him to keep in a sex dungeon whose main difference from Quagmire’s house is that it’s a shed. If you squint, you can see Sonia as a slightly removed look at how terrifying Quagmire would be if he were a real person. But the show has gotten so much mileage out of jokes about Quagmire’s penchant for abusing women that it’s hard to take the concept of “too far” seriously. Sonia turns into just another crazy chick for the show to crap on, and that sucks.
The episode’s treatment of Sonia is especially disappointing in what’s otherwise an excellent Family Guy. Every episode of the show rests on how many of the jokes work, and besides all of the terrible Apple jokes in the first act, a startling number land. Joe is a stealth MVP—his car swap (and subsequent DUI stop) with Peter is great, as is the way Peter and Quagmire both forget his birthday and “agree” not to get him anything, which comes back in a big way at the end when Peter goes ahead and gets Joe a gift anyway. Tonight’s cutaways are dynamite, from Chris’ condom Halloween costume that Quagmire doesn’t understand (which to be honest took me a second to get) to Peter’s deliberation on his fast food order in what I assume and hope is an extended homage to the Futurama pilot and Oscar the teddy bear’s paintings of Stewie.
That Rupert-Stewie-Brian B-story is probably the best part of the episode. Family Guy has gotten a lot out of Stewie treating Rupert like a real person, and tonight doesn’t disappoint. While cleaning out the attic, Lois finds Stewie’s first teddy bear, Oscar, who was also Stewie’s first great love. The breakdown of Stewie and Rupert’s “marriage” is excellent, even if all of the jokes come from the contrast between Stewie’s stereotypical suburban unhappiness and Rupert’s being a stuffed animal. As presented in the episode though, Stewie only decides he wants Rupert back for two reasons: He gets jealous of Brian for some reason, and the episode kind of arbitrarily decides he needs to (these are not mutually exclusive). That kind of mimics the way I feel about the Sonia plot: An interesting premise went to places the show wasn’t super comfortable with or capable of handling, and it messed up the landing. At least in the Stewie plot we get that bleak cutaway of Oscar hanging himself in front of a massive painting of Stewie.
To some extent, I feel guilty about pressing on my problems with the Sonia plot. I don’t want to spend most of my time here complaining about the icky quality of a lot of the show’s humor (though I think I’ve said that every episode so far, so sorry again). Family Guy can (and does) make whatever sort of jokes it wants. But in this case, the show had the chance to stay true to itself while also doing something genuinely interesting and new in an episode that was stuffed with good jokes, and I’m sad it didn’t do it.
- Unofficial cutaway counter: 12. Honorable mentions: The “Whom” owl, Joe and Quagmire apple picking, and the first guy who owned a Model T.
- So, Quagmire’s dad is pregnant, huh? Besides the fact that that’s biologically impossible… ew.
- Not sure I can stress enough how funny I found that teddy bear suicide. Feel free to take away whatever you want from that.
- Peter: “Well, I guess this is as good a time as any. Happy birthday, Joe!” Quagmire, hanging in a sex shed: “You dick!”