Full Analysis of The Family Guy

Aim of this analysis is to check if and in what parts The Family Guy resembles transmedia project. Why are we interested whether this project is an actual transmedia example?


Aim of this analysis is to check if and in what parts The Family Guy resembles transmedia project. Why are we interested whether this project is an actual transmedia example? Well, “Let's face it: we have entered an era of media convergence that makes the flow of content across multiple media channels almost inevitable” and the analysis goal is to check how well the content flow is planned in The Family Guy (Jenkins, 2003). If we then look at the content we should also assess its proper use on different platforms and adjustment of several projects to the story world. Because there are many series extensions only most relevant ones were selected for this analysis.

In order to check The Family Guy we will use academic sources balanced with audience and reviewers opinions to have a clear insight of the project. The Family Guy will be checked according to Jenkins’ 7 concepts of transmedia to have a general overview if we can actually say about The Family Guy transmediation.

What is Family Guy?

  • Fox production created by Seth MacFarlane;
  • animated series for adults;
  • presents dysfunctional family of the Griffins and their friends;
  • narration takes place in fictional city of Quahog;
  • first aired in 1998: 10 series, 173 episodes;
  • loaded with pop cultural references, gags, flashbacks (usually self-referentail humour);
  • entertainment for adults;
  • criticised for racist and sexists jokes, presenting religion in a negative way and family as dysfuncional unit of the society;
  • low artistic value.


"The ability and degree to which content is shareable and the motivating factors for a person to share that content [...]."
Caddell, 2009

The fact is, that the programme has its Twitter and Facebook official and unofficial profiles, YouTube is loaded with UGC and clips from the show, and there are 19 podcasts on iTunes to listen or download. 

The Family Guy also appears on different media platforms, besides television series and its spin-off The Cleveland Show there are comic books, flash games, video games and live performances, collectibles, costumes, etc. Therefore, spreadability of the programme may be acknowledged.


"[...] the ability for a person to explore, in-depth, a deep well of narrative extensions when they stumble upon a fiction that truly captures their attention."
Caddell, 2009

Fan pages of the show consist usually of episodes’ descriptions, transcripts, quotes or flash games but it does not really contribute to drilling into the story. It is the same with comic books, video games or books. 

There are only few things that may contribute to the show drillability and it is its spin-off, live performances or a book called Stewie’s Guide to World Domination (and those three examples presented will be argued as well), albeit there is a great amount of other products with a total lack of drillability that will be presented in the following chapters. It was predicted by Mittell who stated that sometimes the franchise sustains spreadability but does not offer any real depth to drill at the same time which in this case fully apply to The Family Guy (Mittell cited in Jenkins, 2009a).


"Some transmedia franchises foster an ongoing coherence to a cannon in order to ensure maximum plausibility among all extensions."
Caddell, 2009

Unfortunately, on fun forums dedicated for The Family Guy people complain about certain lacks in the story world, “This is kind of to my point, which is people placing expectations on Family Guy of having a coherent plot and universe” (Nohomers, 2010). Brickrd suggests that the show’s universe is not coherent, thus, not plausible for viewers. It is not a problem of the program only as on web sites dedicated to review games the same voices rose about the franchise game with 3 different plots of 3 characters from The Family Guy, “The game only attempts to tie these storylines together in the loosest way possible, but lack of coherence aside, it's still pretty funny stuff.” (Navarro, 2006). 
The same problem exists in the Star Wars Trilogy mentioned in the subchapter about feature films where it was pointed out that the family relations of the show characters are violated. As Long writes, “Special attention must be paid to developing a stage upon which multiple storylines (often in different media types) can unfurl, and every story must maintain the consistency of that world”, what in The Family Guy case do not exist (Long, 2007:48).  

It is even more complicated with all sorts of mobile or games where the family relations are not maintained, locations or events are different to the main narration and not only they have not influence on the main narrative but are irrelevant and not correlated with each other at all. iPhone game Family Guy Time Warped Review presents that lack of consistency,They also encounter historical versions of other Family Guy characters, like Lois as a sultry saloon girl and Quagmire as a deviant Roman emperor named Quagligula” (Podolsky,2010 ). 
That lack of coherency contributes to decrease in plausibility in The Family Guy products’ consumption especially by fans and the story may become incomprehensible for other viewers in the future due to the enhancement of a wide variety of The Family Guy products.


"Others routinely use alternate versions of characters or parallel universe version of their stories to reward mastery over the source material."
Caddell, 2009

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YouTube clips that present Peter’s Griffin family as Sonic characters, numerous mash-ups with American Dad, Gears of War or Star Wars, people dressing up as the series characters and many others. The Family Guy fans like to retell the stories in alternative ways, from different points of view and these stories are usually kept in the frames of the story so e.g. relationships between the characters are preserved, the places where the story may happen, as well. Multiplicity of content produced by Fox is enormous as well, we may read the family story in comic books, books, we may play various mobile, video, board or card games, play with The Family Guy toys, etc. Multiplicity of content would be also confirmed, then.