Producers on Family Guy have said they are “phasing out” jokes about gay people.
The long-running animated Fox comedy series has frequently made LGBT+ people the butt of jokes over the years, attracting criticism for relying on offensive stereotypes.
However, Sunday’s (January 13) episode “Trump Guy” hinted that the show is seeking to forge a more tolerant path on the issue going forward.
In a meta moment, Peter Griffin comes face to face with President Donald Trump, who tells him: “You’re Peter Griffin from Family Guy. Many children have learned their favourite Jewish, black and gay jokes by watching your show over the years.
Peter Griffin responds: “In fairness, we’ve been trying to phase out the gay stuff.”
The show’s producers confirmed to TVLine that the quip was more than just a gag.
Family Guy producers: Our views are now different
Asked if the line was serious, executive producer Alec Sulkin said: “Kind of, yes.
“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.
“Some of the things we felt comfortable saying and joking about back then, we now understand is not acceptable.”
Exec producer Rich Appel added: “It’s almost unique to Family Guy, though I can think of one other show that’s been on the air longer.
“But if a show has literally been on the air for 20 years, the culture changes. And it’s not us reacting and thinking, ‘They won’t let us [say certain things].’ No, we’ve changed too.
“The climate is different, the culture is different and our views are different. They’ve been shaped by the reality around us, so I think the show has to shift and evolve in a lot of different ways.”
Though the show has featured LGBT+ content in recent years, much of the more recent portrayals are compassionate, or looking to generate laughs in other ways—most commonly hinting at the repressed sexuality of baby Stewie.
Family Guy was criticised for ‘outing’ Caitlyn Jenner
Family Guy previously picked up flack for ‘outing’ Caityln Jenner, targeting her gender identity before she publicly came out as transgender.
As early as 2009, the show targeted Jenner with transgender gags following tabloid speculation. She came out as trans six years later, in 2015.
After Jenner came out, Seth MacFarlane declined to redress the issue, telling Huffington Post he is “too savvy to comment on the issue to the media.”
He said: “Once the outrage industry shuts down, I will be happy to have an adult conversation about all of this stuff any time anyone wants, but, even though I’m on the side of support, I just don’t think there’s any way to.
“You just got to play it safe because the climate is just too charged. Anything I say can and will be used against me.”