Was Family Guy‘s Trans Episode Horrifically Offensive?

Family Guy, the enormously successful equal opportunity offender, on Mother’s Day aired the episode “Quagmire’s Dad,” about Quagmire’s father who was supposed to be a panty chaser, but turns to be a big homo — or rather, a transgender MTF. Lots of gay and trans jokes have the queers upset!

Enjoying a cosmo and owning the entire Sex and the City DVD collection are among the indicators that Quagmire’s dad is a poof. And the writers came up with lots of (reused and recycled) ways to talk about “stroking privates” and “taking loads.” But when confronted, pops says he is not, in fact, a homosexual. He just wants a sex change operation.

While GLAAD has yet to way in, Queers United has.

It starts off with the father coming to town and Quagmire’s friends commenting on how “gay” the father seemed, because he exhibited gay stereotypes including an (effeminate voice, desire to entertain, drinks Cosmo’s, etc). When Quagmire confronts his dad he admits he admits he is not gay but really a woman trapped inside a man’s body.

Quagmire asks for support from the Griffin’s, the wife Lois offers that her husband Peter will go to the hospital for the sex change operation. Lois and Peter remark that the whole thing seems “pretty gay” but that it is “obviously weird” and Lois finishes off by telling the two men that they should “enjoy the circus” referring to the hospital visitation.

In the waiting room there is the talk of “he/she” and the “penis being chopped off” an obvious disregard of using correct pronouns and propagation of the myth that transwomen remove their penis.

When Quagmire’s father transitions she takes on the name Ida and is invited over to the Griffin’s for dinner. She brings a pie but Lois immediately tells her daughter to throw it away. This plays on the irrational fears of interacting with trans people. Over dinner Peter asks the inappropriate question “do you miss your penis?” and asks about the legitimacy of her “knockers”.

When Ida meets the Griffin’s dog, they develop a relationship. The dog (Brian) is thrilled at meeting a new and wonderful woman but gets disgusted and vomits when he finds out she is transgender.

Were any television show to make gender identity a punchline, I’d immediately be right there with ya, throwing my arms in the air. But in between all the pretty grotesque jokes is even an anatomy lesson (explaining how a penis becomes a vagina, without anything being “chopped off”). That, and Family Guy, now past the 100 episode mark, has always trafficked in making fun of EVERYTHING. Race. Gender. Weight. Age. Human-dog sex. And now, gays and trans people.

And while some of the jokes definitely pushed some boundaries (with the hysterical laughing at the idea of someone having sex with a trans woman thrown in), shows that have anti-gay or anti-trans characters doesn’t make the entire show anti-queer.

Alas, in this instance, it does.

It was a pretty remarkable bashing of trans people — one that went so far I can’t even defend it. I’ve got no problem with TV shows making fun of queers; we’re a funny bunch, and our stereotypes can be hysterical. But Family Guy‘s take was just revolting. This program didn’t use humor to further a worthwhile conversation. Instead, it painted this group of people — our group of people — as monsters. That’s not something to laugh at. That’s something to expunge.

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  • Rich

    No. Our community needs to lighten the fuck up.

  • Brutus

    “That, and Family Guy, now past the 100 episode mark, has always trafficked in making fun of EVERYTHING. Race. Gender. Weight. Age. Human-dog sex. And now, gays and trans people.”

    If by “now,” you mean like a year ago when they did a HILARIOUS episode where Peter turned gay. And there’s always Brian’s cousin in WeHo who shows up once in a while. And that flash-forward from a few years ago when Meg had a sex change.

    This is nothing new. This article reads as though you don’t actually watch the show, heard they were doing a trans episode, and found something new to get worked up over.

  • Chris

    I’m a huge FG fan and they’ve, in general, been kind to the gay community in the past. Last night’s episode wasn’t one of my favs but going off and bitching about a cartoon puts you in the lot with Sarah Palin and South Park haters. I’ll save my outrage for the REAL threats to the gay community.

  • Cam

    They have gone after pretty much everything. I remember one episode where they went to a parallell universe where Christianity never appeared and so they said that the universe was 1000 years ahead of our universe because science etc… hadn’t been held back.

    If the show did that, they are pretty much willing to tweak anybody and don’t seem to be at all afraid of doing it. If this was the first group they’d gone after I’d be pissed, but they’ve pretty much crapped on everybody equally.

  • dvlaries

    The 150th episode, the week before, with Stewie and Brian locked in a bank vault, featured unambiguous coprophagia and annilingus. (It was still rated only TV14, but when you’re one of your network’s major cash cows…)

    Any viewer imbecilic enough to be offended by the lack of ‘sensitivity’ on Family Guy needs to start over again with fucking Sesame Street.

  • David in Houston

    Yes. If I were a trans person, I’d be extremely pissed off for all the reasons listed above… AND yes, I do have a sense of humor AND yes, I am a big fan of Family Guy, AND no, I don’t need to lighten up because my opinion isn’t the same as yours.


    I have been a fan of FG for long time. You can’t cry about McFarlane targeting particular groups because he has a scatter shot approach……He hits everyone with equal abandon. And its usually dark but good solid humor. That being said, there is definatley something dark developing in McFarlane’s world. The 150th episode last week was actually uncomfortable to sit through. Stewie and Bryan are locked in a bank vault and Stewie being a baby, does what babies do. End result was Bryan eating not the type of deposit on would normally find in a bank vault and then rimming Stewies ass………….

    I didn’t think it was possible to be so “icked” out by a cartoon………..

  • Brutus

    @PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS: You’ve not seen “Drawn Together,” then, I take it.

    Anyway, I’m pleased to inform everyone that the trans character comes across very sympathetically, everyone else looks like giant assholes (as usual), and it’s even slightly educational.

  • Adrian

    Quagmire at the end of the episode still LOVES his father after the sex change operation.

    This episode showed not only how crude people can be towards a trans person but how there can also be unconditional love from family members.

    a pretty good lesson to come out of a cartoon.

  • Adam Wood

    I love family guy. And I saw no problem with this episode. The Family Guy writers have a long history of treating these issues quiet carefully, and their past depiction of LGBT characters has always being positive or humorous. This episode was no different.

  • Josh

    Oh lord…. They have supported the LGBT community in other episodes, and now they went after them. Its what Family Guy is about!!! They make fun of everyone and everything! Its a TV show, they were jokes, i laughed my ass off. I think some people really need to just have a laugh at themselves.

  • Fitz

    on some levels, I am still dealing with my own crap around understanding Trans issues– the last thing I am prepared to do is bitch about someone using humor to introduce an uncomfortable idea. It’s latency age humor, but it IS humor.

  • Sine

    I totally understand how people could be offended by this, but usually those people are the ones who miss the bigger messages in these types of episodes.

    In the Jasper (Brian’s gay cousin)episodes, the show tends to make fun of how society relates to gay people, rather than gays in general. They make fun of stereotypes, yes, but I don’t think that is especially insensitive or anything that isn’t normal.

    McFarlane also decided (years ago) that Stewie was gay. Usually those jabs at Stewie are quite funny, but once again, those generally make more fun of how people relate to one another rather than the actual gay community.

    This show does target groups of people occasionally, but that’s to be expected. I haven’t seen this episode, but it sounds like there are positive lessons about society and trans people in it, despite the gross out humor and jabs that make the Griffins look like insensitive dbags.

    I’ll save final judgment for when I actually see the episode, but this one doesn’t sound any more offensive than, say, the Jewish Episode.

    It’s fine if you don’t like humor and social commentary done in this way. Just say you don’t like this type of humor. Don’t paint FG in a negative light just because you don’t get it, though.

  • Marc

    “way in”?

  • Kieran

    Comedy Shows like ‘Family Guy’ that make it hip and cool to mock homosexuals and make gays synonymous with transgenderism do a hell of a lot more damage than any boring, homophobic encyclical by the pope that nobody ever reads anyway. How many impressionable young kids watched this program and got reinforced in that age-old lesson passed down from generation to generation that gay men are natural objects of derision, ridicule and scorn? Gay men maliciously portrayed as secretly wanting to be women under the guise of “comedy”. The lame excuse that bigoted, defaming comedy programs like ‘Family Guy’ are equal opportunity offenders is hogwash as well. Certain groups and topics are most definitely off-limits on these shows. For example, where is the Family Guy episode where the Holocaust or it’s Jewish victims are mocked? Where are the Hollywood shows or movies that maliciously reinforce in the eyes of the public negative stereotypes about Jews?

  • Synnerman

    I felt better when Quagmire beat Brian’s ass. It might have been for Brian’s reaction to sleeping with Ida, but it was worth it because Brian had been an ass about sleeping with Ida and I needed to see him bitchslapped.

  • TommyOC

    Contrary to belief, the people of Family Guy are friends of the gay community. They may have been insensitive in this episode, but they’ve committed worse transgressions than this and we’ve been yukking it up the whole time.

    I think it’s telling of the performer’s mindset when asked, during an interview at The Paley Center (which one must watch), if they ever felt they went “too far,” they responded with “just once.” That time? When Peter joined a acapella group, shown when he’s singing to a hospital patient about having “full-blown AIDS.”

    The guys definitely understand an insensitive joke… And if they truly thought they committed an egregious offense, we’ll be hearing from them.


    @Kieran: Use the Googles, Family Guy has riffed on both the Jews and the Holocaust. The trans community can’t get upset, because McFarlane targets everyone. As stated above I really like FG and the fact that the show is an equal opportunity offender. But sometimes the show as with the poo episode really does color outside the lines……………

  • gjr

    I have watched everz ep of FG and have all on DVD. I have seem them be merciless to all groups, gays included. But this episode crossed the line. I thought the Peter Becomes Gay episode was the funniest ever because it used gentle stereotypes. This episode just showed massive hatred toward transgendered people. Yes, Glen did not reject his father at the end but everyone else acted in a disgusting way. Try reading responses on Twitter. One guy said, “I’m gonna start calling this guy at work Ida/Quagmire’s dad”. I understand SM is a supporter of gay rights, but that does not give him a lifetime license to be excused for everything he does. He did the “straight guy pukes after being tricked into fucking trans-person” joke in the Cleveland Show, like 4 months ago.
    I consider myself fair to other groups, races, but guess what, if I ever say anything that crosses the line, I expect others to call me on it. Same applies to SM. His good record of tolerance was tarnished by this episode.
    Remember, it is only good parody if people get that it is parody. Most of the public will not get the point and just repeat the stereotypes shown.
    Oh, and because a show insults all people doesn’t mean it has can never go over the line. What is the line? That is for the group parodied to decide.

  • JakeH

    I was honestly a little putt off to the show when Brian screamed and vomited profusely upon realizing he had sex with a trans woman. That is the kind of extreme phobia that gets people killed, later “gay panic” defense and all.

  • Brutus

    “where is the Family Guy episode where the Holocaust or it’s Jewish victims are mocked?”

    Uhhh . . . half of them?

  • Bear

    Family Guy is more of a bellweather than anything, and with that I find it a bit sad that in 2010 America it is still more appropriate to laugh or even vomit at the thought of a queer relationship than to give support. It’s not blind offense, it’s truth in many ways, and it’s probably the biggest reason we don’t have rights in most of the world.

    Don’t blame the messanger, no less a comedic cartoon.

  • Geoff M

    Had to watch after reading the comments. I like FG, Seth etc so I wasn’t surprised, or upset but…..felt this episode was wince-worthy because I have several TG friends.

  • gjr

    – Don’t blame the messanger, no less a comedic cartoon.

    Then SM should spare us the shit about being a big gay rights advocate. There are ways to poke fun and be instructional. Peter “turned gay” yet the episode still ended up being funny.
    This just perpetuated negative stereotypes.

    Oh and gay bashing occurs in real life too. Should FG be the bellweather and show that too?

  • A Transwoman

    I had a MAJOR problem with this episode. I think out of anything, my major problem would be that this episode was entirely devoid of any real person on Ida’s side.
    Every other time they’ve made fun of LGBT Issues, there has been SOMEONE on the side of the person they were insulting. During the Gay marriage episode, Brian was in support of it and had to win Lois over, but he did in the end.

    In this episode, nobody. There was no positive at all. In the end, Quagmire only changes tune over his love for his “Dad” rather than actually learning anything. Meanwhile, Brian and Lois, the two characters you can USUALLY count on to be level-headed, were total assholes about the whole thing.

    It just pushed more insensitivity and misinformation… uugh…

    Also, a much more minor gripe, since It’s kinda crazy to expect realism from Family Guy, but South Park made this mistake too with Mr/Mrs Garrison. Why does every fictional medium pretend that a “Sex-change operation” is basically like having your appendix out? In everything the person looks 100% like a man, walks into an operating room, and comes out looking completely like a woman. No years of hormones, no electrolysis, it’s no longer a long and difficult process, it’s just “walk into a room one way, come out another”. I WISH it were really that easy.
    (Again, I’m not complaining about this one, just wondering why fiction presents it that way.)

  • TJ

    I’m just gonna say it. This episode was kinda funny. And I didn’t find it all that offensive. Probably the MOST offensive part was when Brian got all grossed out when he found out what he did, but really he got his ass kicked at the end anyway (and Quagmire’s right: Brian IS a self-centered prick).

    Look, I don’t want to accuse family guy of being sensitive of ANYTHING, but it looks like they tried to grapple with some of the feelings people have when they’re confronted with someone they know to be transgender. The griffins all came off looking like douches, which they frequently do in situations like these, and that’s no different than Steve Carrell’s performance in every single episode of the office EVER. Using your major characters to highlight insensitive behavior is not necessarily offensive.

  • greg

    The jokes made everyone else seem like an asshole for treating the trannie so terribly… this show bashes everyone, but tends to have a sympathetic heart for us LGBTQs outthere. And the show’s creater, Seth MacFarlanE, is pretty supportive about repealing DADT. Remember his line from Real Time? He called people who don’t support repealling DADT,”The worst kind of fucking assholes.”

  • Devon

    I thought it was hilarious. I’m guessing the people who are pissed off about Family Guy are the same people who were boycotting Avatar due to it’s lack of MTF cat people.

  • me

    I think it was a decent episode, which portrayed the Griffins as morons for their treatment of Ida. I also feel it helped get across the notion that trans people aren’t gay, and they shouldn’t be grouped with gays as it’s a completely different issue.

  • Steve

    I’m such a huge fan of Family Guy that it’s almost sad. That being said, I don’t think the people who are upset about this episode are truly aware of Family Guy’s style.

    The Griffin’s are archetypes of stereotypical American family members (exaggerated, to say the least.) Now, the writers then take a group of people, like Trans people, and create a “representative’ of that aprticular community and throw them in the midst of the universe. While on the show, these characters are treated like punching bags, it’s the people throwing the punches that are truly representative of real life. The Griffin family, and their neighbors, express the common attitudes of our time – in this case, the Griffin family portrayed people who were angry or scared of Trans people. Therefore, this episode isn’t an insult at Trans people. It’s a wake-up call to everyone else, jsu tlike all of their other episodes.

    Family Guy has a very unique style, and that’s why most people don’t understand who the butt of the joke actually is.

  • WTF?

    @Kieran: While I don’t agree with this wholly, it does bring up a problem I have with this post: that gays and trans people are all the same, as evidenced by the author stating “Instead, it painted this group of people — our group of people — as monsters. That’s not something to laugh at.” While I and many others here would certainly support other disenfranchised minorities, we aren’t all the same. Many trans people would argue, too, that they aren’t gays who wanted a vagina but rather women in the first place who happened to be born with the wrong body, as it were. We are not the same group. While we should never stop helping one another, we should start separating the lines. When we adopt the alphabet soup, we’re saying that gays and transgendered and bisexuals, etc… are all the same group, which speaks to what Kieran is saying.

  • Alex B

    This is nothing new to Family Guy. Like another commenter noted, the article reads like someone who has never watched the show and just watched this one episode with no context.

    Macfarlane has been doing this since the show first started. Just look at the banned episode where Peter befriends a jewish man and the usual stereotyping results. On its face, its pretty insulting… but when you listen to the director’s commentary, you get to see the message – which I think has been repeated here (as others have commented).

    The point of the show, I think, is to look beyond the surface of the insults/discrimination and focus on the message. In the end we see what really counts: Quagmire recognizes that he still loves his father, we learn a bit about the surgery procedures, we see the challenges facing trans people with the social process, etc. What we are also supposed to see is that the Griffins are awful, that they are insensitive and viewers should not sympathise with them. This isn’t about trans people = gross and funny, but rather The Griffins as being the problems.

    It’s like Archie Bunker’s racism/bigotry in All inthe Family. Viewers don’t sympathise with him, they recognize his faults and realise “I don’t want to be like that”.

    The real offense in all this is how unfunny this show can be. A one minute scene with Brian doing nothing but vomiting? This is comedy these days?

  • Lee

    @Kieran: “Gay men maliciously portrayed as secretly wanting to be women under the guise of “comedy”.”

    Huh? I haven’t seen the episode, so could you explain what you mean by this?

  • Ian

    The only part I felt went too far was the extreme vomiting that Brian did when he learned that Ida was an MTF trans-woman, otherwise anyone who watches Family Guy knows they go after pretty much everyone and every once in awhile they DO go too far with a joke here and there.

  • Steve

    Another week, another trannie outrage. These activists always need something to whine about. They would only be half alive if they weren’t complaining about some “oppression”.

    I hope the show annoys them terribly. They are a bunch of unstable gangsters who have forcibly attached themselves to the gay movement. By creating the concept of “LGBT” have promoted the foul stereotype that gay men are really wannabe women and that lesbians are really wannabe men. To hell with them. If I found out that I had sex w/ one of them, I would vomit for 30 minutes too.

  • Shawn

    I think that they were satirizing mainstream society’s fears about trans people.

    In general, the Griffin family is portrayed in a warts-and-all fashion. They often treat their daughter with scorn. Peter in particular makes fun of many different races, and the mother Lois has been shown to be somewhat homophobic.

    Though I am sure that, if you are a trans individual, it might look like the show is making fun of you, but I think that the show was portraying people’s irrational fears.

  • Joe Moore

    I watched this episode, as I watch all FG episodes, with a grain of salt. FG is not anti-gay, but they are like the South Park guys where nothing is sacred. I admit that at times the episode was a little difficult to watch because they were pushing the line, but in the end Quagmire supports his Dad. Although this show really doesn’t need to excuse itself, they really do make fun of everyone.

    Sometimes I think our community needs to stop getting so offended and laugh at ourselves a little more. As an earlier commenter put it, if we don’t we become like Palin and go after anyone who even utters the word ‘retard’.

    Woops! Now she’s gonna come after me! :-)

  • Missanthrope

    Yeah, this sucked big time but we shouldn’t be surprised because it’s Family Guy and they’re generally terrible when it comes to these kinds of issues.

    How strange that most of the people who are defending this are not trans and are not the ones being mocked. Funny how it works out that way.

    It’s kinda like saying, “Relax, ‘Cruising’ was just a dark film about sexual obcession, it had nothing to do with being homophobic”, which would be a ridiculous thing to say.

    Shows that manage to drop in about every transphobic trope I can think of in one episode are usually transphobic, don’t you think?

  • james_in_cambridge

    So this went too far but Seth MacFarlane doesn’t go too far when he makes fun of every other religious, sexual and racial group in ways that would make your toes curl week after week after week. It’s apparently ok to go after us gay folk too, which they do on a regular basis and I don’t remember any bitching about that but trans people are somehow special? I wanna say “Niggas, please!” but I don’t want the Queerty editors to cry. Once again you’re showing how out of touch you are with the twenty-something (and younger)generation.

    Oh, here’s an episode of baby Stewie drinking horse sperm and enjoying it…it’s just that kind of casually horrifying show…


  • Mac

    If anything, this episode addressed the individual identities between gays and trans. Seth MacFarlane is a huge supporter in the gay community. People need to lighten up. Many of the characters of Family Guy are made and projected to be unbelievably ignorant, and were just playing their roles.

  • Hilarious

    Pretty sure this show makes fun of everyone. I don’t even know how many times this show has made fun of black people and civil rights through the dog Brian.

    You either laugh or stop watching but you can’t claim they’re picking on anyone specifically.

  • Rob

    It’s time for Seth McFarlane to come out and stop gay bashing like a closeted republican.

  • FoolMe1


    “If I found out that I had sex w/ one of them, I would vomit for 30 minutes too.”

    Like that trick you had last night at the rest stop did?

  • Roisia

    Ironically my roommate and i just finished watching this show. We are both trans. We thought it was hilarious. We took no offense what so ever. In fact we think its the best episode we have seen. We found that they did a decent amount of research and were very sensitive to the subject. There is a time and a place to be offended. This is most definitely not one of them.

  • Roisia


    Im trans I loved it. And its family guy they make fun of every one. To be honest i was more offended at the length of the puking scene then the rest of the show. And not why he was throwing up just the fact that it lasted way to long.

  • Roisia


    You asked about the show having an episode about the Jews. Well second season I wish upon a Jew. And have you ever even watched this tv show. Or any show that is like it? There is the constant jew joke in family guy his name is Marvin or Melvin or something like that. Hes a Jewish pharmacist who is a hypochondriac. They had an episode touching on Anne frank.

    Look Its stupid to be offended over stupid crap. Being offended over things this petty is one of the reasons we have a bad name.

  • Missanthrope

    @ roisia

    I’m trans and I found it horrible. It doesn’t make a difference how many different types of people Seth makes fun of. If a person goes around calling calling people “c*unt”, “n&*ger” and “f$%got” they’re still a misogynist, racist and a homophobe. Making hateful things about many people at once does not magically make something automatically okay.

  • Jadis

    @Steve: If I found out I had sex with you, I’d head to the hospital for tests. And that’s gangsta to you, if you don’t mind.

  • Snoep

    It was typical FG cool to include the penis-to-vagina surgery info, and the “education” that TG and gay are different things but otherwise this episode was just way too full of negativeness toward the TG community.
    They could have redeemed themselves a lot simply by having Brian, even after puking, finding himself very turned on by….

  • alan brickman

    Seth is always pushing the boundaries of free speech..just change the channel….

  • Scott

    “… way in …”

    It’s “weigh in”.

  • julie


  • Kyle

    I’m trans myself and I don’t think the episode was horifically offensive. Family guy makes fun of everyone, and the way they made fun of transsexuals was not too over the top and still respectful of their existence. I mean some of their jokes were pretty offensive, but the ignorance that most of the characters had is realisticly accurate to how ignorant people in real life would react. When you take into consideration the people who really discriminate and hate us, this is nothing to get too worked up about.

  • Roisia


    So its ok that he makes fun as people unless they make fun of gays or trans. Thats very hypocritical. And i didnt hear any of those words in the episode. In fact in the end quagmire comes to love his new mother.

  • jeffree

    So what do our Transfolk propose we do? Am hearing lots of complaints but no suggestions. Please advise.

  • Kyle

    I suggest we do nothing. We have bigger issues, like people who actually are murdered and attacked just for being different. Its not worth targeting a stupid tv show that was more making fun of peoples ignorance then the actual issue.

  • gjr

    So many people here are making the same 2 bullshit arguments: 1) You don’t understand what FG is about and 2) They make offensive remarks about everybody.

    On 1) I have seen every FG episode dozens of times, bought every DVD. I laughed at every episode even though there were little offensive bits here and there. But always the point was brought home that the bigotry was inappropriate. Brian brought Louis around of gay marriage. Peter gets slapped down for his sexism. They make a point about Mexican immigrants. But never has an episode made me so uncomfortable. There was just a constant stream of hate here. Yes, Glenn came around, but only because it was his father. And even when he “understands” he still goes on a gay-bashing rage (there are cases of kids who beat up on people when they find out their parents are gay) because suddenly his war-hero father suddenly needs to be protected from people (or dogs) who would hurt him, i.e. he is suddenly weak. Even the Glenn message was not good. The message from Brian, Louis, Peter etc was downright file, even going so far as referring to Ida as “it”

    On 2) So because they insult everybody, that means there can never be a line when something becomes unacceptable? I am a gay white guy. It is not for me to say where the line is for African Americans, women, Jews. If that line is crossed for any of these groups, they should speak up and they have. The difference is that all of the above have much larger support systems whereas transgender people often do not. Also, parody is only good when it is recognized as parody. Most people watching the FG episode on gay marriage would definately see the pro-gay marriage spin. But here, if you went to Twitter right after the eppie aired, people just thought the abuse of Ida was funny.

    Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion. For me personally, this one episode, of all of the others, with all of the gay jokes etc in the other eps, made me extremely uncomfortable. I did not have a good feeling when watching this, let alone feel entertained or amused.

  • gjr

    @Kyle: But the problem is, that is why we have so many instances of violence. People see intolerance in media and this is expressed more in real life. When you see many 70’s movies, the homophobia is virulent. It was mirroring society but it also provided reinforcement of that stereotype. I think the average person who feared transgender people would come away from this episode having their irrational fears confirmed.

  • Rob

    A tasteless, unfunny show makes insensitive jokes at the expense of a threatened and misunderstood minority. Somehow I’m not surprised.

  • Rick

    I normally watch family guy, but this and south park are giving the same message. Being gay is okay but being transexual is odd or weird or abnormal. The vomiting scene was not funny when they did it in The Cleveland show, so why would it be funny in family guy? I don’t really abt peter or lois’s comments, cuz they can be pretty ingorant abt sum things sumtimes, but its the vomiting scene that bothers me…is being transsexual really gross or sumthin? i dont care if it was a cartoon :/ transphobia aint funny. I remember Seth saying that he sees alot of Brain in himself. So does that mean he thinks transsexuals are disgusting?

  • gjr

    I don’t think Seth is a bad guy but I do think he and his writers have a good understanding of what it is to be a transgender person. I am not one either and as a gay man I’m sure there are things which I do not properly understand. But this episode, unlike all of the others where different groups are usually parodied in a kinder way, i.e. laughing “with you not at you”, this ep came off as mean-spirited and nasty.

  • Arturo Mendez

    I have been around for some time and have watched this “movement” evolve over the years and it is my opinion that this whole fiasco is about redefining the truth and censoring any opponent’s criticism. This is a blatant attempt to force acceptance of a behavior as normal which is considered deviant by the majority of society.Conscience is something most of us are born with and when we are doing something wrong it causes inner conflict. The practitioners of this so called “lifestyle” are attempting to elevate this dysfunction and corruption so that they can bypass their conscience and eliminate that inner conflict. In his book the “Marketing of Evil” author David Kupelian states they are doing this by using semantics to disguise the bizarre sexual behavior practiced and hide its negative cultural identity, and by making it a debate about “rights” which implies that this group is being denied basic rights that the rest of us enjoy. As far as my research has been able to determine the only thing they are being denied is the acceptance of an aberrant sexual behavior that most people find wrong.

  • Josh

    @Rich: Agreed. If anything, I think it showed the ignorance of these people more than supporting it. It played with how people react to such a thing and showcased – through exaggeration – how ridiculous and hurtful people can be without thinking. The character of Ida was, I thought, the only sympathetic character in the episode, which goes a long way towards showing what, exactly, was the point of the episode. She was fine with who she was….it was everyone else who had the problem.

  • FlopsyMopsyCT

    I didn’t read too much about free-speech in the above comments, so I thought I’d put my two cents in.

    I am a major proponent of free speech, even on some of the most controversial issues. I did watch the episode and, even if the episode may have ruffled feathers, I always think this is a good thing, even if it results in negative stereotypes, even if it sends a bad message to impressionable kids, or even if it is just downright in poor taste. The fact is, bad speech gets discussion going which is a good thing. It incites other speech that counters the negative message. By having shows like FG and South Park etc. that test these boundaries, we get to figure out what those boundaries are. It gets really annoying when groups, minority or majority, exhibit that entitlement to respect that they wrongfully misconstrue as being some kind of forcefield from public criticism or jest. For example, when the Simpsons aired an episode where Marge made a statement that Catholics felt was insulting to the Eucharist, the Catholic church and Bill Donahue were all up in arms about it, saying they went too far. They were basically saying they shouldn’t be made fun of in this way, they can’t be criticized or poked fun at. Of course they can be the butt of a joke. Reasonable minds can differ, but quite frankly, I am of the opinion that this is not the way our country works, and it shouldn’t work in any other way. Family Guy, although it sucks that they insulted some of their viewers, has every right to do it and they SHOULD do it.

  • Jimmi

    @Brutus: I agree. The show educates and deals with the subject frankly. I thought it was well done. Beside, they make fun of everyone and everything in that show.


    Off subject, but, that bank vault episode was intense. It was probably one of the wildest buddy studies I’ve ever seen. By the end of it my mouth was wide open, stunned.

    I would rather be offended ever so often than bored most of the time.

  • Koyori

    I love Family Guy. It’s one of the funniest shows around. Being transsexual myself, I was looking forward to this episode, to see how “my” stereotype would be portrayed.

    I don’t think the problem was with the fact they picked transsexuals as the target this episode. Personally, I felt the jokes lacking in taste, and the episode overall felt like it was trying to push the envelope, rather than be funny. I felt more disappointed than offended, really.

    What I think the problem is, is that “transsexualism as a whole”, is still young. If a person makes fun of black people, or jewish people, or gay people, too hard in real life, it’s generally looked down upon. But there isn’t yet much stigma for a person who ostracizes transsexuals.

    I’ve been to doctors in hospitals, and found that many of them haven’t even heard of the term, or know next to nothing. Right now, even as of 2010, transsexuals are surprisingly under the radar. Being gay is almost even “hip”, but right now, “we” are how gays were in the 60’s and 70’s.

    In the end, I don’t think Family Guy themselves did any wrong. Like it was mentioned earlier, trans stuff is hit pretty hard cause it can right now, and while a lot of people see this episode and know that it’s just jokes, there are a lot of people that aren’t as open-minded or intelligent, and take this kind of bashing to heart.

    As I said, most other minorities made fun of, are well known, and making fun of them for real is considered boorish, or cruel. And right now, transsexuals are still in a hazing period. XD

  • Roisia

    @jeffree: Leave it as is there was nothing wrong with what they did. As far as cartoons feturing transfolk this ranks up with the best of them.

  • Roisia

    @gjr: Quagmire coming around because it was his father is kind of a good point. And very true. Most of the time people don’t think good things or even care about the existence of transsexuals until they know one personally. I think in the end he wasn’t beating up on brain because his mother needed protecting but because brain slept with his mother. How many guys would be pissed if their friend slept with their mother. As for the other gay/trans jokes. The fact is that is the kind of stuff we go through. If they had pandered to us and made it all hunky dory and peachy keen. A hippy stile episode it would not be completely true to the average trans experience. And it would have made a really bad family guy episode.

  • Disgusted American

    I look at it this way…IF they FG ONLY made fun of Trans and or gay people, then yea..Id be pissed..BUT, they make fun of EVERYONE,EVERYTHING,EVERYBODY! so..lightEN up!

  • Dylan

    I like Family Guy, and I didn’t really find anything too offensive about this episode. The jokes weren’t that funny, though. Like someone said, it seemed like they were just trying to see how they could push this episode rather than being genuinely funny. But Seth Mcfarlane is quite liberal and a huge ally in the fight for gay rights. I don’t think anyone, gays, lesbians, transgendered people, ect, should get so offended over little things. The one thing I find strange about the community is how PC they are, and how we seem to get offended over every little thing…

  • Liz

    The episode is crude and idiotic, and unlike South Park, I feel like Family Guy never has the courage to take a real stand on anything.

    But I found myself wondering if the characters’ overreactions are supposed to be caricatures of our society’s overreactions. After all, part of what makes these cartoons successful is the fact that they provide a distance so we can safely observe these problems without guilt.

    Quagmire does finally accept his father’s decision and there is as touching a scene between the two as there can be in a show devoid of sympathetic characters. When Quagmire finds out that Brian and his now mother had sex, he goes over and beats the shit out of Brian (In an earlier episode we learn that Quagmire hates Brian for being a hypocritical snob)…which may be more of a comment on the behavior of men & sex.

    When Brian finds out that he slept with a MTF, there’s a pretty long crude scene of him vomiting…which is surprising because of all the characters, Brian tends to be the most liberal and accepting and in my opinion, the most three dimensional. Despite his liberalism and his atheism, Brian proves that he’s a hypocrite…which may actually be a powerful statement on the lack of inclusion of trans people in some gay rights movements.

    Of course I have no real authority because I am not trans and can never understand how these depictions can hurt. I love South Park, but find Family Guy offensively stupid…yet I always end up watching it because I don’t have a TV and it’s the easiest most colorful thing to watch on Hulu *_*

  • jkamen

    I read this article first and then saw the episode. I kept a close eye to see if the show would go outside its normal insults and gross humor. Alas the worst thing I thought happened was the extensive and very long vomit scene. Which in all honesty was gross and stupid but come on where talking about a dog and a transgender having sex the whole scenario is already wacked!

  • Justin

    For me the reason I wasn’t too horribly offended (and I’m not transgendered so maybe I’m not the best subject) is Quagmire’s dad/Ida came off as relatively normal. Once she was post-op she exhibited the behaviors of a normal women. All the negativity was other character’s reactions to her, not actually Ida herself. I think it would have been much more offensive if they’d made the character out worse after the surgery but once the show progressed Ida was indistinguishable from another female character and throughout the whole show the character was pleasant, devoid of stereotypes (save the cosmo references etc. in the beginning) and just wanted to follow her dream. It’s the other characters who have a problem.

    I guess what I’m saying is if you saw a tv show with a bunch of white racists reacting to an interracial couple, would you count it as making fun of the racists or the couple?

  • TonyD

    If they didn’t offend the transgendered community, and handled it with kid gloves, I would be offended; they offend everyone! The LGBTQ community has a strong backbone, don’t weep- the end result was kind. Equal opportunity rights to stand up for one another, equal opportunity to insult us too, if your going to target others, too!

  • alan brickman


  • Zoe Brain

    If someone on FG had projectile vomited after finding out they had sex with a gal “passing for white”… would that be “on the edge” and “acceptable”? Would African-American groups get slammed for having no sense of humour about it? You know, if the food from a “Nigra” was thrown out as being contaminated, or someone thought that a high yella gal should be registered or something?

  • bitchslap

    I’m trans and I can laugh at myself with the best of them. I even laughed hysterically at some of the jokes (i.e ‘do you miss your penis?’) but here’s the overall message that the show gives; “you’re a man until you get surgery and then you’re an it. You can now be the butt of jokes, be treated as a fucking leper because you’re bringing it on yourself”. Quagmire’s accepting him at the end is supposed to make me think ‘wow, how progressive’?? Being accepted shouldn’t be anymore of an issue than if his dad had asperger’s or a birth defect and show’s that continue to portray it like they did only makes it worse.

    I can take penis jokes, I get the joke of someone throwing up, it’s old, it’s been done but whatever and I can take seeing trans people made fun of but not when it’s conflagration of harmful stereotypes. The notion that trans people seek out men to sleep with is one of the main reasons that so many transwomen are MURDERED each year. The idea of her being an ‘it’ makes her less than human and gives ammunition to those that think transpeople shouldn’t have equal rights (not to mention that it’s easier to kill an ‘it’). The notion that it’s an embarrassment is why so many transpeople are kicked out of their homes onto the streets or forced into prostitution. FG isn’t responsible for these nor do they add to these issues but they sure as hell aren’t helping.

    What really gets me is that the gay community rarely understands the trans community and more often than not, doesn’t want to. But if there’s a gay rights rally whether it’s for marriage, repealing doma or dadt, the trans community is there in force. The trans community is like gunga fucking din to the lgbt community and I can only speak for myself but i’m a little sick and tired of being treated as though we’re the fat kid at the slumber party..

    If you’re gay and don’t have a problem it’s the same as when whites don’t have issues with shows that some consider racist so stop deluding yourselves and think that you get it because you don’t.

  • Tim

    Article: “Family Guy is only funny when it doesn’t make fun of my personal life, besides that everything else is fine.”

    FG is a scapegoat for everyone these days. People only find it offensive when, SURPRISE, people view an episode that focuses on something that is only personal to their own life. As that saying goes, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”.

    All of a sudden throwing a fit over an episode that bothered you, while seemingly disregarding other episodes just shows that your fine when it doesn’t step on your toes.

  • Fitz

    I don’t think I would barf, but if I was in some seedy backroom and some guy gave me head, and turned out to be FTM, I would be really upset. Not saying enraged or violent. I am just pro-disclosure. Are we not allowed to talk about these things?

  • Jayson

    Family Guy has always picked on every group, as a way of equalizing us all. Stewie is often seen in drag, and is very often trying to have sex with Brian, and even Brian’s son. Meg is a future trans person, so these topics are not that NEW, to this show. While the humor of this show is not for everyone, much like South Park, humor is used to show us how stupid labels really are. Free Speech often forces us to hear about the parts of us we would rather not see. The discomfort many feel towards Trans People, Gays and such. As Far as the barfing, how many straight men would react with joy over learning they just had sex with what they would see as a man? It was meant to be over the top. It’s often shows like this that start the path for more people to be shown the various peoples around them, and find some sort of empathy.

  • tallest

    After reading some of these comments I was expecting the episode to be way worse. I thought it was funny for the most.

  • Emil

    I am a genderqueer lesbian and my dad is transgender MTF. He came out to me in december. I have a similar experience to quagmire, but in a different way. I just find it the way it is, you know.

  • JCarr

    @TommyOC (#17):

    I still laugh every time I watch the “Full Blown AIDS” clip, which is in the episode “The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire”. I don’t need license to do it, but it just so happens that a couple years ago, *I* was told I had full-blown AIDS (though not in song).

    There are no sacred cows in the Family Guy universe, nor in South Park. People need to deal with it.

    There’s a theory in neuropsychology that laughter is actually a fear reaction. Contrast a child’s fear of falling, with his screams of laughter while being tossed in the air by a trusted adult. His fear response is opposed by the implicit knowledge that he’s in no danger. Sometimes, the more intellectually shocking a joke is, the more potential it has to be funny.

    To some people, at least.

  • Roisia

    @Zoe Brain:

    Actually this is not the first time they have used the puke Gag. I doubt it will be the last.

  • Samantha

    Yes, Family Guy picks on everyone.

    Yes, they have traditionally been friends of the gay community.

    I’m bisexual, and their gay jokes have never upset me. I’m also transsexual, though, and this episode was massively offensive to me. It’s a lot easier to be gay than it is to be trans, so to see the total rejection of Ida as a woman by Brian despite her passing as one, and for her to be referred to as a he the whole way through, and as Quagmire’s dad still at the end is appalling to me.

    This episode simply went too far – it made me feel awful about being me.

    Transgenderism isn’t something you can easily poke fun at – do you really think a transwoman wants to be teased for having a birth name of ‘Jacob’ or ‘Bruce’? Wow. Probably not.

    FYI: By the age of 20, 50% of transgenders have attempted to commit suicide. Do you really think they need to be made fun of in such a way?

  • Samantha

    @Liz: Agreed.

  • Lily

    I really appreciate this discussion. Having seen the episode, I was really eager to hear what other people thought about it.

    To weigh in, I personally found the episode obscene, with no redemption or balance. Up until the point where Brian pukes, I assumed there would be a point or a joke that made everything up until then be seen in contrast…but nope and the puking took it that little bit too far and then further still.

    My real problem with the episode is for the average person out there, who already thinks narrowly about the world, this episode did nothing but affirm and encourage ignorance. I hope that most people were driven mad by how offended they were, and for those people, I think finding something funny in the episode is fine. Not for me though, the episode left a bad taste in my mouth and I will be sick of Family Guy for a lot longer than that puke scene.

  • Sara

    Family Guy is generally an equal rights supporter. When it shows black or gay people bashing, for example, it is showing what society does, not what is right. The message is always the same: society is like this, too many people act like this, I’m making you see what they do and how hypocrite or unfair that is, then you take your decisions on your own. It goes for all the gay or black stereotypes you find. And it goes for the trans episode as well. It is telling you people are just too ignorant on the issue to even be aware of it (like when Lois and Peter mistake “trans” for “gay”, which sadly is what people usually do). Brian’s reaction is telling something as well, because even though he’s way smarter than Peter and says he’s open minded, he feels disgusted when he realizes he slept with Ida –> people just really don’t know a thing of what being transgender is and are simply scared or horrified by it. (Although probably Brian was disgusted *also* because Ida is Quagmire’s “dad” and he hates Glenn.)

    In my opinion that’s how Family Guy should be read and it’s also very clear in the show that it is always criticizing a real situation.

    Another sign of the fact that that’s probably what the episode aimed to is that homophobia and transphobia are usually both present or both missing because they’re both generated from sexism/masculism, which also imply defined gender roles for women and men. Since Family Guy has already been proven a big supporter of gay rights, having a whole episode on gay marriage and a positive gay character in the main cast, it would at least be very weird to find out it wants to offend trans people.
    Then again, in every episode of this kind there is the “wrong” side, the “neutral” side and at least one character as the “accepting/right” side, which in this case was Glenn who eventually accepted his “dad”. And last but not least, notice that Ida is a completely positive character.

    Spoke a GLBT rights activist here so it’s not like I think so because I don’t care, I do care a lot about things like this one, that’s just how I see it.

  • Alex

    @Synnerman: So so so agree.

  • Libby

    the was no part of this episode that even hinted to me that they were just being sarcastic, so if you ask me Seth MacFarlame can burn in hell.

  • Kerri Lynn

    @Rich: no, our community does NOT need to lighten the fuck up…when shit like this happens, our community should be FURIOUS. I don’t watch FG on a regular basis any longer, so I may seem out of the loop to be saying something now, but my fiancee came across this episode today and was extremely upset by it. My fiancee is a beautiful, sensitive and gentle woman, who happens to be Transgender. Seeing how this episode portrayed Transgenderism was heartbreaking to her, and therefor, my heart breaks seeing her so hurt. Telling our community lighten the fuck up is about as far off from how ahit like this should be treated as possible. Treating our community as jokes and second class citizens will never end if we just sit back and let it happen.
    @FlopsyMopsyCT: yeah, ok, they have the right to free speech, but one person/group’s right only extends as far as the next person/groups…that is to say, they may have the right to express themself, but, for example, my fiancee also has the right not to have yet another media making her out to be a monster.
    And to everyone who seems to think its okay, because hey, they make fun of everyone…just wait til they make fun of something you find in yourself. Willing to bet you’ll see things differently then.

  • Jenna

    I’m an MTF TG, pre-operational. . .I liked the episode overall because they were talking about my condition, which is a first for me to actually see on TV. But, I did recognize those parts that were painfully offensive. . .well, they didn’t offend me at the time, but they would now, after having thought about it, and having read this.

    One thing I must say, though; toward the end of the episode, Ida and Quagmire make up, and he accepts her for who she is, and I thought that was sweet. I don’t think their writers hate us, but yes, the overall theme of the episode prior to that moment is revolting.

  • Sheogorath

    To everyone who’s getting offended: put the episode through an audio removal tool, take out everything but the sound of Brian puking and the line, “But I had sex with her!”
    Because of my auditory discrimination issues, that’s all I heard, and I thought it was hugely funny. Think about it, Ida’s a human, Brian’s a dog, and HE’S the one puking?

  • Jackie

    I’m sorry if you can’t see why it’s offensive, but I was VERY offended and if you think I’m a sour puss tough. I’ve even boycotted the series’ continuity because of the insensitivity seen in the show. I’d rather watch American Dad and I can actually tell when that show is joking, not to mention I actually really love that show. American Dad has never pissed me off with an episode the way Family Guy did with the episodes “Quagmire’s Dad” and “Thanksgiving”.

  • Doughosier

    It’s a comedy which pushes the envelope all the time. I thought it was funny.

  • philatonian

    @Rich: No kidding. All this article really proves is the hypocrisy of its author. It’s okay to laugh at Family Guy usually…you know, its holocaust jokes, Kennedy assassination jokes, breast cancer jokes. It’s okay for Family Guy to be an equally opportunity offender…”unless it offends us.” The show satirizes the lower-middle class American family. I feel like I just read a way-too-long Facebook comment by one of those old people who doesn’t know what the Onion is.

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