Purpose and Innovation in Family Guy’s Musical Numbers

Lizbette Ocasio-Russe


Seth MacFarlane is well known for his groundbreaking animated series Family Guy (Fox, 1999-), a trademark of which is the inclusion musical numbers that reflect MacFarlane’s knowledge of the film musical. While many criticize the controversial approach and seeming arbitrary nature of not just the show’s jokes, but also its musical numbers, the way MacFarlane integrates them into his animated series allows todays cynical audience to enjoy a taste of the rather dormant genre. MacFarlane does so by employing elements of the Warner Brothers/Berkeley musical, the integrated and aggregate musical forms, the myth of integration, The Great American Songbook, the folk musical, the backstage musical, the MGM musical, and studio-era-style choreography. Through the analysis of some of Family Guy’s most impressive musical numbers, I propose to show that Family Guy boasts the most musically informed and detailed numbers in an animated television series today. MacFarlane employs these numbers for either one, two, or all three of the following purposes: to create a sense of community among the characters of the narrative and in the show’s audience, to simultaneously pay homage to and satirize the traditional film musical genre, and to facilitate controversial sociopolitical commentary.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/eltls.v1n1p30


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright © SCHOLINK INC.  ISSN 2640-9836 (Print)  ISSN 2640-9844 (Online)