Fox's Hurricane Trilogy

Did you like Sketchy Details on Facebook yet? The 50th person to like the page gets any item they want, up to $20 in value, from the Etsy store. Exclusive content and easier commenting at the click of this link. Last night on Fox, all three of Seth MacFarlane's animated series (The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, and American Dad!) aired episodes centered around hurricanes. His three fictional families all live on the East coast of the United States and were all ravaged by Hurricane Flozell.

So, this is wild, man. What I heard was due to global warmin', the storm is going to be [in Stoolbend, Virginia] for a while, then in Quahog about in like a half hour, then supposedly after that it would go to like American Dad! town (Langley Falls, Virginia).

The storm is used as a way to investigate deeper issues within each series than the usual sitcom format allows. On The Cleveland Show, Junior reveals that he doesn't believe in God. On Family Guy, Meg forces her family to realize how they've abused her for her entire life. On American Dad!, the family is finally forced to chose between Stan's insane schemes and Francine's pragmatism. The discussions are punctuated with the wrath of nature. Each time a family comes close to resolution, the hurricane adds another hurdle to overcome.

It's a refreshing shift in format for all three series. The Cleveland Show sets itself into motion with parodies of Internet videos and memes, placing the show firmly in a world of sensationalized media. Family Guy is wall to wall non-sequitors nestled in the tradition of wacky sitcom families. American Dad! constantly expands the boundaries of its universe through a well-developed cast of ensemble characters to play up strange and unexpected action sequences. Thoughtful reflection is a rarity for all three shows.

Some complain about the abundance of Seth MacFarlane shows on Fox's animated line-up. All three series are lumped in together with the worst of Family Guy. Unfortunately, the worst of Family Guy happened when the series was brought back from cancellation and the writers regained their footing. Animosity developed that Fox chose the show about the dumb dad and the talking baby to bring back over award winning series (like Futurama) or cult shows (like Firefly). Instead of giving shows like American Dad! or The Cleveland Show a chance, some viewers chose to disregard them entirely out of principle.

It's a shame that all three shows have the hate it for "x" mentality surrounding them. They tend to be funny, if a bit tired. When they hit, it's magical. Last night was a triple-play of quality animated sitcoms. If you get a chance to catch any of the episodes, give them a try. I'd say the American Dad! parody of The Poseidon Adventure is the easiest to jump into, followed by The Cleveland Show. Family Guy relies on knowing the references to everything Meg accuses her family of. A non-regular viewer could appreciate it, but someone (even if they haven't watched since the cancellation) who used to watch could get a lot out of that episode.

And if you commit to watching all three, at least make sure you watch the final scene of the American Dad! episode where all three stories are drawn together in an unexpected moment of absurdity.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

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