Family Guy Season 11 Review “Friends without Benefits”

This time around on “Family Guy,” it was Meg’s turn at bat as the central character in “Friends without Benefits.” This one had a somewhat oddball premise, even by “Family Guy” standards. Basically, it was the tale of unrequited love, as Meg fell prey to that age-old rite of female passage: falling for a gay guy. That in of itself wasn’t the strange part, but rather her reaction to it.

Under normal circumstances, most girls would either befriend the guy or move on, but Meg opted to take the road less traveled. She decided the better route to take would be to set the guy up with her brother, Chris! As the guy had a crush on Chris, it was an easy sell on his end, but not so much on Chris’, as he isn’t of the gay persuasion. This forced Meg to take matters into her own hands, so she did what any irrational person would do- she sought out roofies! One guess as to who she went to in order to procure such a thing…here’s a hint: Giggity!

Alas, the plan backfired, lucky for Chris. (Not so much for Stewie, who snagged a pill for himself and promptly keeled over.) Worse still, the guy in question found out what was going on and was not amused. Oh well: better luck, next time, Meg. Poor girl just can’t seem to catch a break to save her life.

Some great deadpan line readings from the lovely Mila Kunis here. My favorite was probably this following line from her journal: “Anal bleaching is better left to professionals, LOL!” Now there’s an unpleasant visual image- even if you went Mila over Meg. Second runner-up has to go to: “There he is- the reason my bedpost is so shiny!” Slightly better visual on that one, if still a bit oddball, to say the least. This is “Family Guy,” after all, so what does one expect?

Speaking of amusing visuals, I got a kick out of Peter gliding by on the slip ‘n’ slide in the background in one scene, especially the random bit with the spider cocoon. The visual of Chris with “Felicity” hair was pretty hilarious, too, though I wonder how many typical “Family Guy” viewers got that pseudo-obscure joke. Finally, the “rapey” plant bits were pretty amusing too, especially when it went for Stewie!

Speaking of which, I’m not sure why I’ve been hearing so many rape jokes as of late, but there they are, everywhere I turn. I suppose it’s one of the last taboo topics to make light of, but it still can’t help but be a little disturbing underneath the surface, even if it involves a woman making the joke, as was partially the case here with Meg. (I also saw jokes about it from comics Sarah Silverman and Bonnie MacFarlane this weekend, so it was females across the board making the jokes.) In addition to Meg’s antics, there was also Quagmire’s bit about “Don’t rape it back; rape it forward” and the term “snooze juicer,” which was defined as having gay male sex with someone who’s asleep! There’s a term for that? Yikes! (Of course, “Family Guy” writers could have just made it up as well, so there’s that…)

Still, it got me thinking. Last week, someone put me to task about a joke made at the expense of autistics in an episode of “2 Broke Girls,” which I quoted in my review. I laughed at the joke, and defended my laughing by pointing out how technically the joke was at the expense at one of the characters, not really autistic people themselves, much as “South Park” tends to poke fun at everybody in a general way, but without being really mean-spirited about it. This “Family Guy” featured an entire subplot about rape, and while certainly done tongue-in-cheek, it was a bit on the edge of good taste. I’d be interested to hear what other people think about this; as, even while I laughed at some of the jokes, it still left me with a queasy feeling, nonetheless. (Full disclosure: Two people I’m very close to were the victims of sexual assault, so it can be a touchy subject with me, just as the person who complained about “Girls” was the mother of an autistic child, so the joke there hit home for her for similar reasons.)

Anyway, not to get all preachy and/or soap-box-ish, but what do you think? Should anything be sacred when it comes to humor? Were you offended by the jokes, or did you give it a pass because it involved a female character & was played for laughs? Should it have been played for laughs? Would it have made a difference to you, if the character doing it had been, say, Chris, instead of Meg? Sound off in the comment section below and let me know!

In the meantime, it was a pretty hit-or-miss episode, even minus the questionable humor. I liked a few bits here and there, especially the “Barbarella” homage with Meg and Peter’s sassy day-job talk at the restaurant was pretty funny & I loved the slang he used: “Got a telephone pole headed to the fishing hole…spray it with sunshine!” Overall, not one of the best eps, but not one of the worst either.

About The Author

Mark Trammell is the resident entertainment critic at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is also a Graduate Student and does a vid-cast movie review show. His impossible dream is that "Twin Peaks" will one day be resurrected and pick up where it left off. Until then, he drowns his woes in anything remotely similar, from "Buffy" to "Lost" to "Pretty Little Liars." This has not always been a good thing-cough, "Ringer", cough- but now at least it can help pay the bills.

  • gabhpr

    This rampant laughing at rape and child abuse is sickening

  • gabhpr

    FKFKFKF

  • Mark Trammell

    Agreed. I mean, I’m as liberal as they come when it comes to making fun of something, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right?

  • jpedroveiga

    I for one think the rape jokes were great. They were actually funny, relevant to the plot so not gratuitous at all. Well, maybe just a little, but who cares?

    Oh, I guess liberals… I forgot free speech ends where your feelings start.

    One more thing, the name of the episode was a reference to the movie “Friends with Benefits”, with Mila Kunis, the actress who plays Meg’s voice.

    Funny episode. 8/10.

    • Mark Trammell

      “I for one think the rape jokes were great.”- lol. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d read! Anyway, I’m pretty liberal, or I wouldn’t be watching this show, to be sure. And I admit, it is a sore spot for me bc of the reasons I mentioned in the article, but I don’t deny the writers the right to make these jokes. Especially since, like I said, it’s often women I hear making them- just heard another today, also a woman. I don’t know that it makes it more right, but I suppose it does make it a little easier not to feel bad about it afterward. Not that I really felt bad about “Family Guy” after, really. It just seems like I’m hearing a LOT of it lately, to the point it was becoming noticeable, so I thought I’d open up a dialogue about it. Thanks for yr comments, to that end.
      Oh, and I did catch that about the Mila movie reference, I just forgot to mention it. But good catch nonetheless! It was nice to see Meg get an episode, even if it was a bit questionable. I will say this: bless Mila Kunis for going for it, regardless. Could she be any cooler? (Okay, the Ashton Kutcher thing is questionable, but aside from that…)

      • jpedroveiga

        Hey, Mark, I was replying to the commenter below me who wrote “This rampant laughing at rape and child abuse is sickening”.

        This person shouldn’t be watching Family Guy in the first place.

        My opinion is that no group should be off-limits to be made fun of, be them well-established heterosexual white males or be them Asian autistic midget lesbians.

        It should all be fair game for ridicule and satire. I don’t care if it’s offensive, as long as it’s funny.

        For instance, a racist joke done in bad taste is something I usually never laugh at, but not because it is offensive or racist but because jokes done in bad taste are usually never witty and funny.

        The only good racist jokes, in my opinion, are the ones where the targeted group laughs as well because they can somehow identify with it. I’m white and I’ve laughed at many “White People” jokes told by Chris Rock just like many black people laughed at “Black People” jokes told by Bill Burr. It’s all about not taking ourselves too seriously.

        Rape jokes are a whole different universe. It takes a genius to make one who is actually funny. Usually comedians just rely on shock value. Family Guy, surprisingly, didn’t.

        • Mark Trammell

          Yeah, the way this comment section is arranged can be confusing! The below “fan” clearly isn’t an ideal watcher of the show, but as you can see from my other comments, we’re definitely on the same page. I, too, think that anything should be fair game- but, like you, acknowledge that it can be a tricky business when it comes to making successful jokes in certain controversial areas. It takes a lot to offend me, but there has been this weird shift lately where the jokes have clearly been heading in a questionable direction (i.e. rape jokes, jokes about choking, et al) and I simply wondered what other people thought about it. I don’t necessarily think it’s good or bad, just…interesting.

          • jpedroveiga

            I think it has to do with “pushing the envelope”, to try and be more edgy than the previous comedian. I think that, in the last few years, people like Louis CK and Doug Stanhope opened the doors for other comedians to work with a more “questionable” content. Nothing wrong with that per se, although I’m afraid we’ll end up with rusty imitations instead of genuine material.

            Can you link me to some of those examples you’re talking about? For instance, the female comedians making “rape jokes”? I somehow expect it to be the usual “He has to [insert compensatory action] because he can’t perform in bed” diatribe that female “comedians” have used us to, with rapists being the target this time.

            I hope I’m wrong, though. I myself write comedy (newbie) so the theory of comedy is something that interests me greatly.

            • Mark Trammell

              As far as links go, the examples I heard were on the shows “Whitney” “2 Broke Girls” and “Love You Mean It”, all of which feature or are co-written by Whitney Cummings. (I have to review 2 of those.) Maybe she’s trying to tell us something? I also saw stand-up routine specials on Comedy Central for two female comedians: Chelsea Perretti (possible msp) and Bonnie MacFarlane (ditto), both of whom did jokes about rape and various freaky sex acts. I guess it’s a thing now, to do jokes of this nature. I guess its better that women are doing it, at least, but still…

              • Mark Trammell

                Oh, and one more thing: None of the jokes were really of the sort you mentioned. They tended to be self-directed or at the expense of women themseves- NOT men, which is interesting in and of itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.adams.148 Ken Adams

    I disagree. I found this to be one of the funniest episodes yet. The insanity that went on in this episode is almost unthinkable. How the writer came up with so many obscure and obscene jokes, and got it past the censors is beyond belief. You have to take a step back and look at what this plot was about. Basically Meg is in love with a gay guy and resorts to trying to trick him into having sex with her brother so he can tell her what it’s like. The baby thinks the gay guy likes him and tries to come on to him. The baby takes the ruffie by mistake and is raped by a plant. Can you imagine going to the TV exec’s with that premise, and them saying, “Hey that sounds very funny!” Come on. That’s where the real comedy is here. Honestly, I ended up laughing myself to sleep that night. My wife hates me for that!

    • Mark Trammell

      Yeah, I definitely appreciated the over-the-top nature of it all. I mean, when the plant business happened, I had to laugh. It’s almost too absurd to take seriously, and you’re absolutely right about what they get away with on TV these days. I review a few shows on this site, on on one they did a money shot joke (and this was a girl delivering said joke) and another a choking reference (also a girl- who said she was into it!) and these are prime-time shows! Hell, one of ‘em is on CBS and is top-rated (“2 Broke Girls”). I’m not offended, really, but wow!