Entertainment

Seth MacFarlane Defends Transphobic Family Guy Episode

“There isn’t a big change I would make.”

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The 2010 episode entitled “Quagmire’s Dad” followed Quagmire’s parent, Ida (voiced by Seth), transition. In one moment in the episode, Brian sleeps with Ida — to the hilarity of Peter and Lois — and throws up for 30 seconds in repulsion upon finding out that she is trans. Brian then compares Ida to a sex offender as he says, “When they move to a new place, they’re supposed to notify the neighborhood” and screams. In another scene, Lois throws out food made by Ida.

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Vomiting upon finding out about a character’s transness is unfortunately a transphobic punchline in other TV shows and movies.

While Seth said at the time that it was “probably the most sympathetic portrayal of a transsexual character that has ever been on television,” the show faced enormous criticism. GLAAD commented that “the episode was incredibly offensive to transgender people.” One writer for Logo TV called the episode “particularly cold-hearted and mean” and Bitch Media dubbed Seth’s actions “slap-in-face ignorance.”

Given that Seth is involved in writing transgender plots on his show The Orville, the Hollywood Reporter asked if his current work is in any way to “sluggish” for his previous jokes. “No, it was nothing like that,” he replied.

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“Look, there are always things that you would do differently when you look back at earlier points in your career. For me, it’s more about nuance. There isn’t a big change I would make. It’s more about individual moments and individual jokes .”

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“The intent of the family guy episode was to show that Quagmire’s father was still a war hero, and still someone that he could look up to and respect.”

“Actually, that episode was written by Steve Callaghan, a writer on family guywho had the same experience with his own parent — his father had transitioned to a woman — and he was writing, in many ways, from his own experience.”

Confusingly, the episode’s main writing credit isn’t actually for Steve — it’s for Tom Devanney (although Steve did act as an executive producer). Subsequently, it’s not clear who Seth was referring to or in what role. Still, he continued, “Now, certainly the language of family guy makes that story a little bit different than it would be on something like The Orvillebut I think that’s something that gets lost a little bit at times when we think of that show, that Steve was writing from experience.”

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Neither Steve nor Tom have ever spoken publicly about having a trans parent.

You can read the full interview here.

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