Like most of the geeky internet folk, I tuned in to watch the Family Guy episode last Sunday night. Like a lot of folks, I suspect, I was initially teased in by the reuniting of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast that FG’s creator, Seth MacFarlane, was teasing to bring in viewers. I’m a big FG fan and don’t need much of a “hook” to get me to watch. The ST:TNG gag was more than enough. I went in expecting a decently amusing show.
What I got was freakin’ sweet.
The Star Trek business was just a hook, and was little more than an amusing side story with some killer cameos. The real story of the episode titled “Not All Dogs Go To Heaven” is about the outing of Brian as an atheist and his de-conversion of Meg. Most folks, I assume, figured Brian was at best an agnostic. He never really spoke openly about his faith, but MacFarlane is a relatively outspoken atheist and Brian seems, for most things, as the true voice of the creator (in more ways than one, har har).
But there was no doubt about it after Sunday’s episode. Brian explicitly outed himself. The town’s ensuing reaction is pretty much what most of us have had to deal with, just magnified through the comic lens. It commented on the fact that most Christians would rather actually have a person be a terrorist than an atheist, despite the fact that atheists don’t fly planes into buildings or burn compounds filled with children. I find it terrifying that, according to more than a few polls, people would apparently rather live next to a murdering psychopath instead of someone that doesn’t believe in a fairy tale like they do.
At any rate, the story traces Meg as she tries to convert Brian to Christianity. Meg is initially brainwashed by her own neediness, a lack of inquisitiveness and a good used-car style sales pitch… like most believers. By the power of Kirk Cameron, she becomes the absolute worst of the worst: a born-again Christian. During the family’s discussion of this and her blathering idiocy, Brian outs himself to the family. The family decries his belief (“we believe in god in this house”) and Meg takes it upon herself to “save” Brian. When Brian rejects her attempts, Meg outs him to the entire community and the town and all its businesses shun and ridicule him.
More importantly for the purposes of typical Family Guy humor, the town cuts him off from his “dear booze.” After a night of the DTs and a resigned sigh, Brian decides to lie to Meg about converting, and pretends to be a Christian to get his drink on. As she welcomes him “into the flock,” she invites him to a good, old-fashioned book burnin’! What could be more charmingly christian?! As Brian watches while religion does what it does best, repress knowledge, he has a crisis of conscience and reverts back to what he knows is right. As he turns “back to the light,” he takes Meg with him after a brief soliloquy on the virtues of fairness, tolerance and knowledge.
And based on the internet over the last couple of days, it hit home. Atheists, like myself, are by-in-large pleased. Some that don’t even really like the show like that it so cleanly stated the case and illustrated the ridiculousness of the believer’s view of atheism. Nearly all of us have been told, in some shape or form, that we’re “worse than Hitler.” To have it so plainly stated, and on one of my favorite shows, is a real unexpected treat.
I did a little digging around this morning, an apparently the non-atheists are screaming like a two-year-old in a toy store about how “unfair” this is. They are crushed and offended that this show got “preachy” on them. I think it’s marvelous to watch them have to deal with our point of view for a change. The funniest thing about this is that they complain about the preaching while choosing to follow religions where they show up once a week specifically to listen to preaching.
Some, perish the thought, don’t like the show anymore and may not watch again! Oh noez! I can almost hear a former friend of mine making a similar comment and complaining about how “liberal” the show has become and that he just can’t watch it anymore.” Bon voyage, buddy! That kind of idiocy and this “everyone has to be and think like me” approach is why you’re an ex-friend. I think Family Guy will do just fine without you all. Maybe without you idiots watching we can stop having to care about your frail sensibilities.
Family Guy. You rock.