Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Family Guy: “Yug Ylimaf”

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Carter Pewterschmidt is most often the token Old White Republican Fat Cat punching bag on Family Guy, but typically he has at least one redeeming quality: love for his daughter Lois. He may detest Peter to the very depths of his soul and act like a ruthless and uncaring businessman, but normally Lois can warm Carter’s Grinch-sized heart. Not tonight, however, as Family Guy cuts the main plot short after taking about half the episode to actually get to the point. An episode that starts at a baseball game takes turns through a library, a hospital, and the headquarters of Carter’s conglomerate before deciding to be a fictional moral quandary about whether to give the cure for cancer to the public.

But let’s backtrack, since this episode begins in a completely different direction. Peter and his buddies are watching a baseball game at Fenway, getting in a nice jab at the Yankees before Peter notes in an affectless voice that he’s jeering them out of sheer geographical coincidence. It’s a great joke, but one that Jerry Seinfeld made a few decades ago. To be fair, it’s still funny. When a David Ortiz home run ball comes toward the four friends, none of them make a play and actually catch the thing, and the ensuing scramble for the ball dislodges Quagmire’s toupee, exposing his baldness. To his utter dismay, the image gets plastered on the Jumbotron and later the local news. After a stint trying to adjust to his baldness that sees Quagmire acting like a cranky old man yelling at speeding cars in front of Peter’s house, he goes to get a hair transplant.

While in the hospital, Brian happens to walk by an open door and sees a decrepit Carter receiving a troubling cancer diagnosis. Not wanting to withhold important information, he tells Lois, but when the family goes to check on Carter, he’s completely fine. Some Brian and Stewie investigation ensues, and they discover that Carter’s company discovered the cure for cancer, but hasn’t told anyone or put it into production because there’s more money in treating cancer for life instead of curing the disease full stop.

So Carter’s a jackass, and he continues to be an old, curmudgeonly jackass, unwilling to help others even in the face of his wealth—though his response to Lois’ suggestion that he has more money than can be spent is hilarious (“Are you challenging me to a Brewster’s Millions?”). This is all previous knowledge, but the final reversal at the end is a bit surprising. The episode doesn’t spend too much time ruminating on any particular meaning, it just paints Carter as insensitive and grossly wealthy in a Mr. Burns way.

But even without an emotionally sweet turn, this is still the funniest episode of Family Guy so far this season. Tons of throwaway lines get laughs, and a surprising number of cutaways actually worked. The plot jumps From Peter to Quagmire to Brian to Stewie to Carter to Lois quite clumsily, but it has enough humor to smooth out the rough edges. Meg even gets a line, though Chris doesn’t, but whipping through the typical character pairings helps keep one from wearing out its welcome. It’s very middle-of-the-road, but right now I’ll take funny and inoffensive as a step up.

Stray observations:

  • Unofficial Cutaway Counter: 11
  • Best cutaway: For me, it’s a toss-up between Brian acting as a cancer-sniffing dog and Stewie waiting for Lois to get off the phone and take him to the beach. It’s not often that the extended, time-wasting gags make me laugh.
  • Worst: I’ll go with the women ordering dessert. At first it’s the typically rote “bitches be crazy” gag that Family Guy pulls out every few weeks, but then takes a turn for the absurd, as though the writers are trying to one-up each other to see which one can get the most fucked-up material on the air.
  • Stewie’s secret nannycam sure turned up some disturbing details, and it’s not helping Stewie learn Spanish.