Even if you don’t watch Family Guy, chances are you’ve heard of the show created by Seth MacFarlane and aired on FOX and Cartoon Network. If you haven’t, it’s an animated sitcom which has become pretty mainstream in pop culture.
I’m a Family Guy viewer. It’s not my favorite show, but I enjoy it well enough most of the time. I understand that with that kind of humor, nothing can be off-limits, because, (as demonstrated so well in the South Park episode: Cartoon Wars Part II) if something is off-limits, then everything is off-limits. I’m okay with most of the fucked up humor that comes out of that show, because they always seem to be poking fun at touchy subjects like rape, murder, domestic violence, etc. But, it has come to my attention that Family Guy appears to actually encourage eating disorders. These are the lines I find most disturbing…
From season 5 episode 6-
-Brian: “She’s, uh… she has this eating disorder. She’s bulimic.”
Stewie: “My God, that’s horrible!”
Brian: “I know, it really is. I mean, her hair is falling out, last week she lost a tooth…”
Brian: “But man, I’ll tell you, all that purging just makes her body look fantastic. I mean, that’s what the supermodels do, and so many of them just look so great. Karen Carpenter overdid it, but I think Jillian’s found a good balance. ”
From season 5 episode 16-
Stewie: “You know Meg, female ballet dancers are famous for anorexia and bulimia, and uh… seems to work out for them. So, ahhh, hintidy hint hint.”
From season 6, episode 9-
James Woods: “Now, Meg, you want to be thin like all the Hollywood starlets, right?
Meg: “Yeah, but I love to eat.”
James Woods: “Well, I’ve got a way that you can eat all you want and look like a Hollywood starlet. Meg, let me introduce you to Mr. Pukey. Hiya, Meg.”
James Woods: “Gosh, Mr. Pukey, you sure are good at making fat women hot. You think you could help out my friend Meg here? Yeah, I think I could give her a… hand. Now close your eyes, Meg, and let Mr. Pukey help you out.”
(Meg throws up)
James Woods: “When did Reese Witherspoon get here?”
There are quite a few other references to eating disorders on the show, but the rest are clearly jokes, not advocation. Okay, so what? We’re all adults here, right? And the parents who let their kids watch shows like this, they should be responsible for putting things in perspective, yes? But the thing about having an eating disorder is, it’s a mental illness.
I’m bulimic, and I know I shouldn’t let a silly TV show influence me, but when I watch the episodes listed above, I can’t help but think, they’ve got a point there. They’re right. I’m doing the right thing. I don’t really expect anything to change, but at the very least I might raise awareness. That’s all I want.