Plot: After Peter (Seth MacFarlane) upsets women with an offensive comic, the Griffins decide to take a trip away from Quahog. They’re forced to make a pit stop in Springfield however after their car is stolen. As Peter and Homer (Dan Castellaneta) attempt to find the car, Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and Stewie (MacFarlane) bond over pranks while Lisa (Yeardley Smith) tries to show Meg (Mila Kunis) that she’s special.
It has finally happened. Television’s most famous animated family, the Simpsons, have officially come together with the Griffins. Rightfully, this is a huge deal. It’s no secret that many people consider Family Guy to be a pointlessly derivative copy of The Simpsons. The Simpsons has even made a few nods to this from time to time. So bringing these two worlds together is definitely something that warrants attention. The sheer amount of promotion for “Simpsons Guy” basically made it impossible to ignore. And what did we get as a result? A generally entertaining hour that was filled with meta jokes but suffered from a clear lack of direction. But seeing as this was technically a Family Guy episode, what did you expect?
My favorite part of the whole night were definitely those meta jokes I just mentioned. Seriously, they were off the charts. You knew what you were in for from the first minute when Chris (Seth Green), in reply to a crossover between Modern Family and All in the Family, sarcastically exclaims that crossovers “aren’t useless at all and play to both of the shows strengths.” It all kept escalating from there. Brian (MacFarlane) can’t say where Springfield really is and declares their visit a “one time deal.” Homer and Peter discover that Pawtucket Ale is a shameless ripoff of Duff. In one of the final scenes, all similar characters between shows are thrown together into a courtroom. MacFarlane and company basically took all of the “Family Guy is a Simpsons ripoff” remarks and shamelessly shoved them into people’s faces. And why shouldn’t he? Family Guy, despite being cancelled once, is now a near permanent fixture of TV. This is the Season 13 Premiere! Really, it doesn’t matter what people think. As Homer told Peter at the end, in one of the last meta moments, they can happily exist 30 minutes apart with some crap in between.
“Simpsons Guy” was an extended hour-long episode (something Peter also remarks at) for both good and bad. What this did allow was plenty of time watching these two families connect in some way. I enjoyed Bart and Stewie coming together on a more juvenile level, only to break apart when Stewie goes a bit extreme, and Brian attempting to talk to Santa’s Little Helper was funny at the first go around. Homer and Peter took the spotlight though for obvious reasons and it mostly worked. These two idiots are very similar so there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t get along. I’ll admit, I did laugh at them drinking gas in an attempt to think like a car.
It’s how the show spent the rest of the hour is what bothered me. Yes, those scenes with the separate pairs connecting were necessary, but there was so much pointless crap thrown in between. Did we really need a slow motion Peter and Homer car wash montage? How big of waste was that? I’m more sad that someone actually had to sit there and animate it. Brian losing Santa’s Little Helper had potential to be something but it ended up becoming nothing. It’s as if the writers initially wanted that to be the conflict that brings a rift in, only to replace it with the Pawtucket/Duff revelation and forgetting to remove it. They really couldn’t find anything better for Chris and Brian to do? To make things worse, these scene’s actually prevented any coverage of what Lois (Alex Borstein) and Marge (Julie Kavner) were doing. As for Lisa and Meg? Could’ve used a little more. Those two actually became friends!
I will say though that this crossover has cemented one thing in my mind: The Simpsons will always be superior to Family Guy. Okay, that wasn’t even a question for me, but I found myself thinking that all the same. While the two shows are similar in many ways, bringing them together definitely highlighted the glaring differences. Bart and Stewie are troublemakers, but Stewie is a sociopath and Bart is just reckless. When Bart pulled out his slingshot, I found myself pining for that over Stewie’s extreme weapons. Meg, as a boring sad sack, is entirely forgettable when the more interesting Lisa is around. Maggie is a literal baby, but Chris connects with her because mentally he’s a toddler. Family Guy is the extreme while The Simpsons is the median. I will always find both hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the day, the true classic always wins.
click on any image for hi-res version. all photos courtesy of FOX.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.