I took a high interest in in the Family Guy episode recently. What got me interested into watching this particular episode because of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5qyHEYeGNM&feature=related. From what I got from that video and a little research this episode is highly criticized for its supposedly accurate portrayal of Domestic Violence, and lack of good humor in the episode. After watching the episode I…can see why this episode is considered one of Family guy's more controversial episodes alongside Partial Terms of Endearment, and When You Wish upon a Weinstein. I'm not offended by the subject matter portrayed in this episode, however judging this episode in a neutrally critical perspective, I like to say that this episode isn't that good. Why? Read the text to find my thoughts on Family guy Season 10, Episode 3: Screams of Silence: Story of Brenda Q.
Story: The episode starts with Peter Griffin leaving on a fishing trip with two of his best friends Joe Swanson and Glenn Quagmire. However only Joe and Peter arrive at the spot thus they have to cancel the trip to resolve things with Quagmire for his no-show at the fishing spot. They Arrive at Quagmire's house to find him hung while still in his robe and underwear down, Peter and Joe quickly rush Quagmire to the Hospital. At the Hospital: Peter and his family, and Joe wait worriedly sit in worry in Quagmire's comatose state. Shortly Brenda (Quagmire's sister) and Jeff (Brenda's boyfriend) whom Peter called arrive at the hospital for Quagmire. Jeff impatiently insults Brenda while she sweetly sings Quagmire out of his slumber. Time skipping to Quagmire's house, the Griffins, and Brenda and Jeff try to help Quagmire recover. Brenda volunteers to stay and help her brother get back on his feet much to her boyfriend's dismay. He proceeds to beat her in Quagmire's kitchen off-screen. Skipping to the night Lois and Peter try to get some sleep hoping to but all this mess behind but even in the silence of night they could hear the verbal and off-screen abuse Brenda is taking to which was bothering Quagmire the worst. The following Morning Quagmire stops by Peter and Lois the following morning clearly tired from the lack of sleep due to Brenda's abuse by Jeff. He asks Lois to talk some sense into his sister thinking she would be easier to convince knowing that they are both women; Lois says yes thus the transition cuts to her and Brenda having dinner. At the dinner Lois tries to talk to Brenda about Jeff, Lois explains the obvious facts that her boyfriend's "manners" but Brenda hypocritically denies it. Meanwhile at the Drunken Clam, Quagmire discuss about how Brenda and Jeff are getting on his nerves. During this discussion Joe suggests an intervention for Brenda. We cut to the following morning at the Griffin's house when the Griffin and Swanson family have called in Brenda to once again discuss the problems with her and Jeff. The intervention was about to bomb until Quagmire saves it with give his emotional speech about his sister, Brenda. The moment is immediately ruined by the always angry Jeff demanding money for an item. He then reminds Brenda about 'their' news, Brenda is to be engaged to marry Jeff (Brenda because she was most likely demanded by Jeff because of the fact that she's pregnant). Cut to the following night to discuss this dilemma even further. Quagmire resolves to the conclusion to literally kill Jeff to make her life better. Peter is neutral to the decision while Joe is openly against it due to his Police duty and for the safety of his friend, however immediately changed his mind after witnessing another one of Brenda's beatings by Jeff. The trio march over invite Jeff to their 'annual' hunting trip, Jeff happily says yes. Cutting hunting area we see the group chatting with each other, Jeff leaves to pee leaving the Joe, Peter and Quagmire alone. Quagmire explains his plot to Peter and Joe unaware that Jeff heard him the whole time. Pointing the gun at Quagmire, Jeff threatens to kill; but Joe bargains about forgetting the whole thing if he doesn't kill him to which Jeff does. Quagmire doesn't let agree thus Jeff knocks Peter and Joe and proceeds to assassinate Quagmire himself. Jeff takes Quagmire back to the car, drives him somewhere else in the woods. Jeff finds a point and prepares to assassinate him but immediately discards the gun when Quagmire taunts him into fighting him fairly via insults. The two brawl in the forest however Quagmire ultimately loses to Jeff. In the end, Jeff chokes the life out of the weak and frail Quagmire. Jeff proceeds to bury Quagmire's corpse until the car turns on revealing that survived his suffocation. The battle finally ends as Jeff tries to run away but quickly gets cornered as the vengeful Quagmire crushes him with the car. We cut to the following morning to see Brenda sobbing worried about Jeff. Quagmire, Peter, and Joe give Brenda a note (that's obviously fake) talking about Jeff's departure from her life. Brenda believes the well-written fake note, Brenda Quagmire then sobs over the "departure" of boyfriend.
Analysis: I mention before in the beginning that this episode received mostly negative reception for its accurate portrayal of Domestic Violence and the lack of humor in the episode is what really sinks it. I believe the critics were right about this episode and I do agree with them that this was a bad episode. I'll examine what I actually enjoyed about the episode. A little bit of the humor worked in the episode: for example the usual out-of-context comparisons and contrasts/thoughts/preference are still funny (I especially enjoyed the Iraq Lobster joke), Brenda surprising got a funny line once or twice, and a few of the jokes that did not center around the subject matter(like the killer holding the gun actually complying with the cop to put the gun down) were the ones I found myself enjoying the most in the episode. Another thing that worked is ironically visual portrayal of domestic violence(seeing as I myself have never seen an abusive couple in real life) that was interesting to watch. That wasn't funny but it was never boring for me. The last thing I enjoyed about his episode is Quagmire: he gets more three-dimensional aspects in this episode. His emotional speech about his sister was very heart-felt and believable thanks to the usual great acting in Family guy. Those aspects alone prevented me from hating it like the majority however, those aspects are pretty minor compared to major problem of this episode. The Major problem with the episode is as what the majority says; The subject matter: Domestic Violence. Yes, I did enjoy the aspects of Domestic Violence in a cartoon however…it just…wasn't…funny. That's really bad because Family Guy, American, and The Cleveland Show have taken really risky subjects and still managed to get some very good laughs and even some dramatic, emotional development from these characters. In a cartoon where each episode satires based on real life topics with randomness thrown in here and there I get a fair amount of laughs and nice perspective to view on each subject matter. While Screams of Silence: Story of Brenda Q excels at the perspective(apparently too well) the humor on the other hand is lacking in this episode. Aside from a few jokes and references that kind of worked but the episode's portrayal of subject completely overshadows the humor. It really does make unpleasant to sit through. On an off-scale note of the humor, half the time the episode only focused on poking fun at the abusive couple particularly the victim herself: Brenda. I know we are supposed to feel sorry for her and feel hatred for Jeff but in all honesty I found myself despising Brenda more than Jeff. Why? Because while Jeff is a despicable being he just seems forgettable since there were many one-time only characters that nothing but be an A-hole and leave, never to be seen again. Jeff is more memorable sure, but nothing really new. Brenda on the other hand just had more negative traits for me, all of which have to do with her boyfriend: refuses to leave Jeff for the better, and constantly defending his actions stating it as "pleasant" and saying "she's fine" when in actuality she's miserable. Why? Out of love and fear of him! I'm sorry but that got really annoying and was constantly taking me out of the fact that we are supposed to feel sorry for her. Brenda to me felt like a one-note joke that wasn't funny alongside Jeff, and if an unfunny joke lingers to long it does get on your nerves. Its accurate maybe (especially women) but … they could have made this episode much funnier here!
Final Thoughts: Certainly one of the more controversial episodes brought to light by Family Guy. The show has done a lot episodes on a sensitive topic but a good chunk of them avoid the negative reaction zone. Sadly though, this episode went too far. I don't think this the worst Family Guy episode but it could have been a heck of a lot better. If you want to see something that's "very " controversial in its subject matter feel free to check this episode and make your own judgments, it's not too bad. To the longtime fans of Family Guy or Seth Macfarlane I think you'll enjoy this episode okay but if you ask me I think there are much better episodes you could watch.