Season Analysis: Season 11 was the loudest Family Guy season yet!

yug ylimaf

“Yug Ylamif”
I still enjoy Family Guy enough to watch it regularly, but I no longer love it the way I loved it during its early years.  Its joke-telling is simply not as consistently sharp anymore.  Too often, the gags are just crass for the sake of being crass, without any real rhythm to them.  Since the joke-telling cannot be relied on, a modern FG episode needs a solid hook to its plot to work out.  A backwards episode isn’t the most unique hook ever, but it is strong enough compared to most other episodes, and it plays on the established FG continuity of Stewie’s time machine, and there is tension because of an endpoint (the reversal of Stewie’s birth) that needs to be avoided.  Revisiting the show’s past allows for meta commentary (Meg is voiced by Lacey Chabert for a line) and seems to allow the show to revert to a time when the characters were simply better: case in point – Peter pouts like an older sibling (“I want to be the baby!”) when newborn Stewie arrives home from the hospital.  But the main reason “Yug Ylimaf” succeeds – and the most common Family Guy episodes succeed nowadays – is that it focuses on the Stewie-Brian pairing, the most fruitful character combination perhaps in the show’s whole run and certainly the best of the show’s current iteration.  Interestingly enough, the best gag has nothing to do with the concept itself and doesn’t rely upon the Stewie-Brian interplay – it’s one of those moments of Stewie muttering something mundane in his sleep (“Mmm, yes, I’d like to return this printer.”)

Honorable Mentions: Further proof that Stewie-Brian is the show’s best character combo: the surprisingly poignant “Brian’s Play,” and “Roads to Vegas,” my favorite of all the Hope/Crosby homage episodes.