This weekend, Seth MacFarlane, the king of Sunday night animation thanks to his massively successful Fox series Family Guy, will make his feature film directorial debut with Ted, the story of a 35-year-old dude (Mark Wahlberg) who’s still best friends with his talking, bong-hitting, skirt-chasing teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane himself, who also co-wrote the film). With its offensive, provocative humor and sporadic references to seemingly random pop culture items (get ready to remember the 1980 superhero flop Flash Gordon in all its campy glory), Ted shrewdly captures the Family Guy spirit without relying upon that sense of familiarity.
And who can blame MacFarlane for retaining the show’s vibe? As the 38-year-old shotcaller put it in our recent interview, Family Guy is “the mothership” from which all of MacFarlane’s other properties (American Dad, The Cleveland Show) benefit. Debuting on January 31, 1999, the provocative, domestic comedy, set in the fictional Rhode Island city of Quahog, has endured through an early lack of confidence from Fox executives, an 11-month cancellation (from August 2000 through November 2001) and endless attacks from critics and good-taste pundits. Today, it’s an entertainment empire, airing constantly via multiple syndication deals and regularly scoring high DVD sales figures.
Outside of MacFarlane and his squad of writers, the credit largely goes to the show’s central family, the Griffins. There’s Peter (voiced by MacFarlane), the well-meaning but obese, usually drunk, and senseless patriarch; Lois (Alex Borstein), his stay-at-home wife with a heart of gold; Chris (Seth Green), the chubby and dim-witted son; Meg (Mila Kunis), the neglected, nerdy daughter who can never catch a break; Stewie (MacFarlane), the wise-beyond-his-years baby who speaks with an English accent and dreams of taking over the world; and Brian (MacFarlane, again), the brainy, boozing, atheist family dog.
Like The Simpsons, a clear influence, Family Guy’s rogue’s gallery of non-Griffin characters is also strong, from Glenn Quagmire (MacFarlane, once more), Peter’s endlessly horny friend, to wheelchair-stricken Joe Swanson (Patrick Warburton), Peter’s other best bud. Put all of their personalities together and you’ve got one of the best animated televisions shows of all time, as well as the reason why MacFarlane was able to make Ted in the first place.
In honor of MacFarlane’s impressive leap to the big screen (we’ve seen Ted, and it doesn’t disappoint), Complex presents The 50 Best Family Guy Episodes, pulled from the show’s 188 total contenders, and 10 seasons’ worth of amusement.
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)