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The Simpsons Meeting Family Guy Isn't the Worst Crossover Ever

Bob Chipman | 29 Sep 2014 12:00
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HD: The Simpsons Guy social

"The Simpsons Guy" wasn't the worst crossover ever, which is about as much as you can expect from a crossover episode.

Have you ever noticed that the basic setup and certain peripheral characters from Family Guy bear a suspicious similarity to the basic setup and certain peripheral characters from The Simpsons? You have? Okay.

Well, do you find it amusing when figures or persons in the media glibly acknowledge things about themselves that you have also observed? You do? Well, then you'll probably react to the much-hyped Family Guy/Simpsons crossover "The Simpsons Guy" about the way I did: Amused, mostly.

Let's get one thing straight, though: "The Simpsons Guy" isn't really (or at least doesn't really function like) a "crossover" in the technical sense, i.e. when a case that begins on Homicide: Life on The Street ends on Law & Order, or when the The Justice League and The Avengers get caught up in each other's business or even when The Jetsons meet The Flintstones. This is a Family Guy episode "about" The Simpsons, and as such it has more in common with the occasional episodes parodying historical periods or old movies.

Actually, what it's most reminiscent of in terms of previous Family Guy events is "Laugh It Up, Fuzzball" (three plus-sized Star Wars episodes) inasmuch as the fig-leaf of "parody" or even commentary is constantly dropping away in favor of unabashed fan-wallowing. The soul of Seth MacFarlane's (and, thus, Family Guy's) sense of humor is reveling in ironic self-satisfaction; and nowhere is it more clear than whenever "Fuzzball" stops making decades-old observations about questionable aspects of Star Wars and descends into long, sincere stretches of "Omigod omigod you guys! We're getting to play with Star Wars stuff!!!!"

So it goes with "The Simpsons Guy:" it's effectively a double-length episode wherein Family Guy splits the running time roughly in-half between finally getting to make jokes about its own Simpsonian heritage and gleefully rooting around in Matt Groening's toy chest.

There isn't even really much of a "plot" to speak of, in terms of transporting the Griffins to Springfield: A misogynist joke in Peter's (brief) new job as a comic-strip artist gets the family run out of Quahog by a mob of angry feminists. (Now now, Seth, remember the hierarchy: You make references to movies from the 80s, The South Park Guys are in charge of handing ammunition to horrible social-media 'bros.) After a subsequent carjacking they wind up in a new city where "Everyone looks like they've got hepatitis" as house guests of the Simpsons. This soon gives way to an excessively-"meta" setup wherein Homer discovers that Peter's beloved Pawtucket Patriot beer is actually just a relabeled ripoff of Duff. This leads to Duff suing Pawtucket Patriot (and by extension the entire town of Quahog and thus Family Guy itself) for intellectual-property theft -- culminating in an "epic" Peter vs. Homer brawl (or "Chicken Fight" in Family Guy parlance) that YouTubers will be recutting to Disturb'd tracks (or has Avenged Sevenfold overtaken that genre now?) for years to come.

Meanwhile, the rest of the cast pairs off for B-stories of varying quality -- except for Lois and Marge, whose "team-up" happens offscreen (as a joke about Marge's worrywart nature) in what's easily the biggest missed-opportunity of the event. Stewie starts hero-worshipping Bart, but Bart finds the youngest Griffin's psychopathy less than endearing. Lisa tries to boost Meg's self-confidence, only to find that, well... it's Meg. Chris, Brian and Santa's Little Helper dig into more meta-business about the obvious difference between how dogs (or just Brian) "work" in the two shows. Bart and Stewie work out best (in truth, a whole episode about Stewie feeling insecure and inadequate in trying to "live up" to Bart Simpson might've worked better as commentary than all the more obvious "meta" stuff) but there's an odd charm to Lisa and Meg's rapport undermined only by a sense that it might've been better served going darker than it eventually does. And while I chuckled at the "dog story," it feels almost unforgivable that Brian never even tries to order a martini at Moe's.

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