The long-awaited Family Guy and The Simpsons crossover episode finally aired last night, and it wasn’t what most fans expected. Many viewers probably watched The Simpsons premiere to see if there was any hint of the forthcoming crossover (there wasn’t), and, after a year's worth of rumors, to find out which established character was going to die (no one important). What they got instead was probably the weirdest couch gag to ever grace The Simpsons in its 25-year history.
Note: For that, you can thank the guest director of the opening, Don Hertzfeldt, who made a name for himself with his Oscar-nominated short, “Rejected,” a compilation of his animations that were rejected for commercial shorts. It's well worth the watch.
But we digress. While many viewers took to Twitter decrying the night's main event, “The Simpsons Guy,” for pulling out every cheap joke possible, including rape and self-harm gags, others went in on its ridiculous amount of meta humor. Here, we break down those moments for you.
1. The show opens with the family watching the "All in the Family/Modern Family crossover episode," and Chris starts a monologue about crossover episodes existing only for creative pursuits and not for money or viewership.
2. Peter enters the episode hating on the comics that run in his local newspaper, saying he could do better, which a lot of viewers will probably believe once they watch this episode.
3. Brian informs Peter that one of his cartoons, which depicts a beat-up wife being equated to a broken dishwasher, has “outraged the online community.” Peter replies, “It’s not like the Internet to go crazy about something small and stupid,” probably in reference to the joke further into the episode about rape. It throws shade at the nature of Internet writing, which Brian references with, “Not just a joke Peter, a joke that angered some bloggers!”
4. Peter wants Homer to set up a cutaway scene, which Family Guy is infamous for, but Homer doesn’t understand. Peter does it for him by saying they’re a duo better than the Air Force.
5. In the Air Force cutaway scene, Peter and Homer have Bob, from Bob’s Burgers, in the third seat of their fighter plane. The duo explain that they have to carry him, and watch as Cleveland, who is flying alone, crashes and burns. This references Bob’s Burgers poor ratings and The Cleveland Show’s cancelation.
6. Homer says that Peter’s favorite beer, and the brewery he works for, Pawtucket Patriot Ale is a rip-off of Duff, simply with a new label. Peter counters by saying he hasn’t had Duff in 15 years and just because Pawtucket Patriot Ale is inspired by Duff doesn’t mean it’s a rip-off. This is in reference to the criticism that Family Guy is a direct rip-off of The Simpsons, with a fat and stupid father, three kids, and a smart and “hot” wife.
7. Further comparisons between the shows are made in the courtroom scene where Springfield characters sit next to their Quahog counterparts: Kent Brockman sits next to Tom Tucker, Mr. Burns sits next to Stewie, Principal Skinner sits next to Principal Shepherd, and the “token black guys” Cleveland and Carl say that they’re seated together because they’re the funniest guys in town.
8. Fred Flintstone appears as the judge in the Duff vs. Pawtucker Patriot Ale trial. Arguments could be made that he was the first fat husband with a hot wife in a cartoon, and therefore, both The Simpsons and Family Guy ripped off The Flintstones.
9. At the beginning of a long fight between Peter and Homer, Peter goes into a rant. In it, he mentions that when he first met Homer he said, “Hey! I love this guy! I’m going to quote him to all my friends and family!” but then later felt, and that he speaks for everyone, “I am over the Simpsons.” This is a nod to many critics and viewers feeling that The Simpsons is a dead show, living on its fanbase.
With shows like South Park that can create a relevant episode in a week, The Simpsons’ animation style causes the show to produce content at a slower pace. It’s no longer the only cartoon on the air for adults, and it’s still trying to find its footing in today’s TV landscape. Others would argue that The Simpsons has evolved from easy crass jokes to more situational and character-driven comedy because viewers are so familiar with Springfield and its residents.
10. Homer throws numerous Emmys at Peter during the fight; Peter complains that he doesn’t have any. The Simpsons has 31 Emmys; Family Guy has zero.
11. The Peter vs. Homer fight references the once-beloved fight between Peter and a guy in a chicken suit. At the end of their duel, Comic Book Guy calls it the “Worst. Chicken fight. Ever.”)
12. Stewie brushes off Brian’s pity when he says he’s sorry Bart didn’t want to be his friend, and Stewie says he doesn’t matter because “Bart sounded like a girl.” Bart is voiced by Nancy Cartwright.