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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Three Cartoons Better Than Family Guy

Catch Up on Season One to Five of Archer on Netflix
Catch Up on Season One to Five of Archer on Netflix
Family Guy, originally debuting in 1999, is a show about a lovable oaf, Peter Griffin, and his family’s whacky adventures. Littered with fart jokes, cut-aways, and childish humor, it’s no wonder this show is a favorite of every 8th grader in the US.
Creator Seth MacFarlane struck gold when he created the show. Having recently just finished it’s 12th season, this long-running Fox comedy has nearly dominated the adult cartoon category. I mean, what’s not to love about it? A talking far left-wing dog, a sexually-confused talking baby, a daughter who’s the butt of all jokes, a socially-awkward son, a nasal-voiced wife, and a father with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old. The jokes basically write themselves.
Recently, in an attempt to switch things up on the show, MacFarlane killed off one of the original members of the show, the talking dog, Brian Griffin, and replaced it with yet another talking dog. While this was, in theory, a great way to boost ratings, it was met with an immense fan reaction. Within hours of the show, fans were petitioning to bring back Brian Griffin, which eventually happened three episodes later. MacFarlane later went on “The View” and admitted that it was his plan to bring back Brian all along (Link to video).
But if you think this is the best animated-comedy currently on television, then you’re probably in 8th grade. Although this show does have its moments, it has recently gone downhill. The characters has lost their shine, the cut-aways are so random that they’re not even funny, and the episode plots are just not entertaining like they used to be.
Besides the obvious, long-running cartoon shows that outshine “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons” and “South Park,” there is an abundance of lesser known cartoons that take the cake as overall greater shows.
Here is the top three.

American Dad

Another show created by Seth MacFarlane, “American Dad” contends as an overall greater show than ”Family Guy” (he also created ”The Cleveland Show” but we don’t like to talk about that).
The two shows have the same formula, but the outcome is far different. While “Family Guy episodes usually thrive on cheap cut-aways and bland jokes that are irrelevant to the plot, “American Dad” derives from that basic MacFarlane formula. This show never cuts away from the main plot and the jokes all tie-in hysterically. Of course, every once in a while, there will be an irrelevant joke, but it doesn’t take away from the rest of the show.
The concept of the show is basically a comedic take on the ideal American family. The father, Stan, while very arrogant and idiotic, has a deep-rooted love for America and is as patriotic as they come. The mother, Francine, while also idiotic, is a stay-at-home mother dedicated to her wifely duties. The daughter, Hayley, is a social-rights activist that hates everything about her father and what he stands for. The son, Steve, is a socially-inept nerd with a socially-inept group of friends. The alien, Roger, is a secret of the family, who likes to dress up in human attire and reek havoc throughout the town. The talking fish, Klaus, is nearly irrelevant to the show. Now I know what you’re thinking, this sounds exactly like “Family Guy” except the characters are a little different. To be honest, it kind of is, but that’s what makes it better.
While “Family Guy” thrives on jokes that even a baby could understand, “American Dad” throws in subtle jokes that take a while to sink in. You wouldn’t see it the first time around, but later you’ll be laughing your ass off. Also, the use of unrealistic characters—like  talking babies—is used more appropriately in “American Dad.” Roger is the funniest character on the show. By dressing up as a human, he always gets himself into hilarious situations and they keep the fact that he is an alien very apparent by contrasting his alien life to his human one. In “Family Guy,” they just act like Brian is a human most of the time which gets old quickly.
While Steve and Chris, and Hayley and Meg are generally the same characters, the “American Dad” siblings have a lot more characterization than their “Family Guy” counterparts. While Meg and Chris have very minimal episodes on them, Hayley and Steve have multiple episodes that expand their characters greatly.
Also, every episode tends to end with a moral conclusion or realization. As corny as it is, its great to see that cartoons really do try to change humanity for the better. Though they mix it in with some humor, the underlying theme doesn’t change.
Although both shows were created by Seth MacFarlane, “American Dad“ cleans the floor with “Family Guy.”

Bob’s Burgers

“Family Guy” and “American Dad” both appear of Fox’s Sunday Animation Domination line-up. Fox definitely has a keen eye for cartoon comedy because this next show is part of it.
“Bob’s Burgers,” created by Loren Bouchard, is about a family who owns a struggling burger shop. While this show’s animation is a little odd, as soon as you warm up to it everything is golden. Being about a family, and seeing how family cartoon comedies usually function, you’d expect it to have a similar formula to “American Dad” and “Family Guy.” While you’d be right, for the most part, there’s more than meets the eye.
The main character of the show, Bob, voiced by the comical H. Jon Benjamin, leads a dissatisfied life as the owner of his burger joint, Bob’s Burgers. While the other shows sport a neanderthaloid-like father, “Bob’s Burgers” tries a different approach. Bob will bring his slightly depressing realism into any situation, whether it be competing against the rival restaurants or attempting to start up a food truck business, his realism is comedic gold. His wife, Linda, has such an up-beat personality, it’s hard not to love her. They way she tackles situations with an “act first, think later” attitude makes everything more enjoyable, not to mention the catchy songs she’s constantly coming up with. The eldest daughter, Tina, being the socially-awkward teenager, derives her laughs mainly from the awkward situations she gets herself into. Her monotone voice adds to her nearly emotionless dialogue, making everything she says flat and that much more funny. The second eldest, Gene, is just a flat out nut. Everything he says or does is so far out there and insane that you can’t help but be reminded of your own little brother. Finally, the youngest sibling, Louise, has the mentality of a 40-year-old business man trying to make a get-rich-quick plan. Her mischief and scheming is enough to get anyone begging for more. She provides a very firm hook for the show.
Also, the pacing of the show is just phenomenal. While other cartoons have a steady pacing, usually one person talking or being the focus at a time, this show is sporadic in that sense. One person could begin talking, then get interrupted by someone else, then continue talking only to get interrupted again, shifting the focus five times in under a minute. It is a nice break from the typical drone-like pacing of most cartoons.
Another great thing about this show is how enjoyable the plots are. I never get tired of watching Bob and his family awkwardly stumble through situations or problems to come out nearly exactly the same as they entered. As much as they try to succeed, they never do, making the consistency in the show more realistic than the other shows. I know that you don’t watch cartoons for the realism, but it helps.
While the overall picture is fantastic, the little things make the show matter just as much. During the title sequence, similar to “The Simpsons” couch gag, the store next to Bob’s Burgers and the pest control van both change their names to rather funny puns. It’s very subtle and hard to notice at first, but it is reminiscent of the classic Simpson couch gag. Also, another minuscule detail that is easy to miss is the burger of the day. Every episode the burger of the day takes on a different name, usually coming up with some genius titles.
I could go on forever about why “Bob’s Burgers” is better than “Family Guy,” but I think you catch my drift.
 

Archer

“Archer,” created by Adam Reed, is by far my favorite cartoon on television and should be yours too.
Aired on FX, this show is about a sloppily-operated spy company, most likely based in the 1980’s during the cold war. This show has everything you could ever ask for in a cartoon—obscure ’80s references, decent action, running jokes, and characters you can’t help but love.
The main character Sterling Archer—referred to as Archer—who is voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, is a top-class spy working for his mother, Malory, and her spy company, ISIS. Growing up with his neglectful mother, Archer grew into a arrogant, ignorant, and egotistical person who can’t take anything seriously. While being extremely skilled at his job, he’d much rather spend his time living a life of luxury and alcoholism. His mother, head of ISIS, only does what’s in her best interest, even if it means harm to anyone, including Archer. Alongside Archer as top female spy is Lana, his ex-girlfriend, who gets constantly harassed by Archer and Malory. Another ex of Lana working for ISIS is, Cyril, a comptroller with more personal issues than he can handle. The character list goes on and on, check out the Archer wikipedia page for more information on them. The great thing about this cartoon is the character’s development. No character is the same since the show started and that’s what makes it truly unique.
The ambiguous setting of the show really makes it what it is. This show references pop culture from the ’50s and other monumental decades, perfectly, especially through the character Archer.
At first Archer is assumed to be an ignorant spy who’s only good at work and drinking, but as the show continues Archer reveals that he is actually a well-read genius (mostly through yelling information at people and insulting them for not knowing it). Not to mention the constant “Top Gun” and Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone” references. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good ’80s pop culture reference thrown in, usually, during the worst situations the characters could be in.
The thing this show does best, just like “Arrested Development,” is its use of running jokes. There are jokes from the first season that still get used into the fifth season. It’s something I absolutely love to see in shows, the ability to carry a joke on through multiple seasons and not have it tire. “Arrested Development” is the only show besides “Archer” that does this flawlessly. I don’t think I have seen an episode of “Archer” (not including the first few) that didn’t have a running joke that made me roll on the ground with laughter.
Fun Fact: Season 4 of “Archer” begins with a very obvious allusion to “Bob’s Burgers” as Archer is working at the restaurant under the alias of Bob. You have to love that they did that, especially since the shows air on different networks.
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of this show. Everything about it is perfect. From the progressive plot and developing characters, to the use of running jokes and setting, this show really does have it all. “Family Guy” isn’t even on the same planet as “Archer” when it comes to quality. If I can’t convince you of that, let the show speak for itself.

Honorable Mentions

Here’s a list of cartoons that are better than “Family Guy,” but didn’t quite make the top 3.

  • “Rick and Morty” (Adult Swim)
  • “The Boondocks” (Adult Swim)
  • “Robot Chicken” (Adult Swim)
  • “Futurama” (Comedy Central)