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Well, it’s better late than never.
In an episode of Family Guy on Sunday, protagonist Peter Griffin remarked that the long-running series is “trying to phase out gay jokes.”
Executive producers Rich Appel and Alec Sulkin later confirmed that the series would “evolve” away from jokes at the expense of LGBTQ people, telling TVLine that the “climate is different, the culture is different, and our views are different.”
“If you look at a show from 2005 or 2006 and put it side by side with a show from 2018 or 2019, they’re going to have a few differences,” Sulkin said. “Some of the things we felt comfortable saying and joking about back then, we now understand is not acceptable.”
It’s a welcome shift for the iconic animated sitcom, which debuted 20 years ago this month. Despite creator and star Seth MacFarlane’s outspoken support for gay rights, the program has frequently dabbled in homophobia and transphobia. The show has long made lazy jokes at the expense of character Stewie’s homosexuality, and drew particular outrage from LGBTQ groups for its portrayal of a transgender character in the 2010 episode “Quagmire’s Dad.” That episode featured a character’s father transitioning to become a woman, and another character vomiting for 30 consecutive seconds after sleeping with her.
“I’ve got no problem with TV shows making fun of queers,” Queerty’s Ryan Tedder wrote at the time. “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.”
It’s unclear why it took the show this long to quit the gay jokes. It’s also unclear what it means to “phase” them out. But the announcement at least appears to be a step in the right direction moving forward.
“If a show has literally been on the air for 20 years, the culture changes,” Appel told TVLine. “We’ve changed too.”
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