TV: Making a right show of Cleveland


Conor Barry gets to grips with the funny-but-pointless Family Guy spinoff, The Cleveland Show

After eight seasons, there’s no denying that Family Guy has lost some of its charm. For a show that’s built upon parody and references, it’s tough to compete with the ultimate pop culture reference machine of the internet. What better way to remedy this stale humour then, than by making a spin-off show featuring one of the least popular members of the original!

Firstly there’s the racism issue that apparently is much talked about. Seth MacFarlane and Co. clearly anticipated accusations of racist stereotyping when devising the show, so they threw in some white stereotypes for good measure, in the form of Cleveland’s hipster and hick neighbours. The logic seems to be that if you make fun of everyone, then nobody can get offended. To be honest, though, I’d be puzzled about anyone who actually watched the show and found it offensive, since it actually makes fun of racism itself. So, now that it’s not racist, is it any good?

In short: sort of, if in a sub-par Family Guy kind of way. The Cleveland Show relies far less on pop culture and that sort of “funny because it’s weird” style of humour that Family Guy has patented. Instead, we have funny-because-its-clichéd humour. While the jokes are incredibly hit or miss, they are at least a little broader than mere pop culture references. Another difference that makes a surprisingly large change is the fact that the show is in widescreen: more attention has been given to detail, and the animation is more fluid which makes some of the visual jokes a fair bit funnier.

The problem is that I just can’t see the point in The Cleveland Show’s existence. In America all three MacFarlane shows are back to back, which is just too much identikit humour for one man to take, and when the best part of the show is the intro sequence, you know there’s a problem. Having said that, the intro is spectacular.

All in all, The Cleveland Show is mediocre and a tad unnecessary. Worse than Family Guy, better than American Dad, overly similar to both. The entire series could have been condensed into one episode of Family Guy rather than its own series, and probably would have been better off. Isn’t the idea of a spin-off to revive a dying franchise? As far as I can tell, Family Guy is still doing pretty well.

If you literally cannot get enough of Seth MacFarlane then hurrah for you, you’re in luck. For everyone else, I suggest you read a book or something. The Shining is pretty good.