Family Guy: “Leggo My Meg-O”
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Family Guy: “Leggo My Meg-O”

I really wanted to like this episode, since plots that focus on Brian and Stewie are typically Family Guy’s most consistent. But coupling another semi-travelogue with a rescue mission to save Meg doesn’t do the episode any favors, especially when the destination is Paris. What follows is a cavalcade of France jokes and shit-talking about Meg. Thankfully, some of the jokes stuck; at least enough to save the episode from becoming another drudge through how horrible the Family Guy writers are to Meg.

Meg suffers in high school, and another girl asks her to go along with a semester abroad in Paris. While there, criminals selling girls into sexual slavery abduct her and her “friend.” The kidnapping plot is ripped straight out of Taken, basically a 20-minute condensed version of that film’s highlights. Along the way, Meg calls Peter to let him know she’s okay, but he’s completely disinterested, and even sketches out how she should hide in such a way that she’ll still be caught. His version of Liam Neeson’s badass Taken speech is pretty hilarious, as it puts Peter squarely in his lazy place.

My problem with Family Guy continually piling on Meg is that the humor always comes from the exact same place: Nobody likes her, everything about her is undesirable and unlikeable to the characters on the show. Any kind of small happiness for her must be undermined at every turn with humiliation. She must suffer horrific emotional pain, and then when a happy ending is within her grasp due to an unfathomable turn of events, even that gets shot in the head.

Once Brian and Stewie land in Paris and go hunting, the episode even settles into a predictable rhythm. They make slow progress toward finding Meg, pitch to a cutaway, then have a fight scene. I’m still slightly surprised by how much I like the action sequences in “Leggo My Meg-O,” and Stewie’s fight where he finds Brian browsing the food in the fridge earned a laugh. The ending is a forgone conclusion, but there are a few unexpected setups, namely the man who purchases Meg at the illegal auction.

When Family Guy had its initial run, I remember thinking that Meg was my least favorite character, but I didn’t outright despise her as the show seems to now. She has bad luck in romance just like Brian, is socially awkward like Chris, and is similar to her parents in her single-mindedness (a trait shared by many animated sitcom characters who obsess over one thing every week). But Family Guy has become oppressively uniform, beating a dead horse so maliciously that I find it hard to laugh at any of those jokes anymore, because they all go in the same direction and never surprise.

Pairing the Brian/Stewie partnership with more misery for Meg leads to an uneven episode, but one that’s filled with more laughs than I predicted. I still roll my eyes at every offhand insult to Meg, every accumulating detail of her tortured existence. But the cutaways were unusually satisfying, the action scenes turned Stewie and Brian into mini-Liam Neesons, and that helped salvage an episode that could have been a dismal display.

Stray observations:

  • Unofficial Cutaway Counter: 8
  • Best Cutaway: A tie between Peter’s turn as an obnoxious violinist at a fancy restaurant, and the Jacque-hammer in Paris.
  • Worst: The guy who invented stuffing a turkey, although the phone call that Stewie recorded of Brian trying to cancel a porn subscription was tediously long as well.

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