On many occasions, society depicts Jesus in cartoon and other TV shows that air daily. It is not hard to flip on the TV and find some sort of representation of Jesus or other aspects of Christianity. Often times, the representations are thoughtful and full of insight. Other times, they are downright rude and discourteous. However, it seems as if society is more ok with these graphic outbursts of what some would call blasphemy. It is getting more and more difficult to portray Jesus in a new, innovative way that can describe his holiness or resemblance of God. On the other hand, it seems like cartoons are defiling his name monthly, if not more often than that. One such show that has numerous references to Jesus and Christianity is “Family Guy”.
“Family guy” producers have had Jesus or God appear in over 10 episodes, and they seem to be increasing in frequency. As these are recent portrayals of Jesus, occurring in the last decade, they seem to have modern twists on the way that Jesus is depicted. One time, Jesus is a record store employee, who says that he is just checking in on the world, and does so every few hundred years. (link) This is very contrary to what many Christians believe. The idea of Jesus coming back to the earth is when the Kingdom of God shall reign and life will change drastically. However, according to “Family Guy”, Jesus just wants to hang out and reconnect with earth. This makes it seem as if the Kingdom of God is not what the religion has made it out to be. Why would anyone want to leave what is supposed to be better than anything ever imaginable, to come back to earth? I don’t think the writers of the show have thought this deep into the scenario, but I am sure that I am not the first one who has. For the record, I could not find any comments from the creators of “Family Guy” on their portrayals of Jesus so anything that I say about them is speculative.
In other episodes, the writers have had Peter (the main character) and his family test Jesus and have him perform acts to prove his holiness. (link) This could be a modern way of showing what people did to Jesus in Galilee. It was often that Jesus was tempted and people asked favors of him. However, is this offensive in the manner that “Family Guy” presents the requests? Traditionally, people asked of Jesus miracle that would bring them back into society, or to have society accept them as a person again. Often, this included casting out of demons, healing of disease, or cleansing of sins. In cartoon portrayals, Jesus generally will perform miracles to “better” them by social standards today. This is not so much as changing what Jesus does, but rather tuning Jesus to our present culture. Some loose similarities could be on the minds of “Family Guy” writers.
There are many instances in episodes where Jesus is put into a more comical, less theological scenario. Jesus is seen on the golf course, in the back of limos, and turning into comic book characters. Are the writers just trying to be comical in these instances? I believe that they are writing more than just comedy. It seems as if “Family Guy” writers could be trying to say is that religion it too serious in present society. People claim that if Jesus is taken out of context, then you will burn in hell. Preachers preach that the only way to reach heaven is to be Christ-like. In all honesty, how do these people know that Jesus was not a fun-loving, down to earth kind of guy (no pun intended). The view of Jesus brought out by the writers is one of a different type of Christ, one that many teenagers and college age kids might see at more their level. Perhaps this is a way that religion should start to portray Jesus to spark interest in young adults.
Now you may be asking yourself, just because Jesus may appeal to people in these scenarios, does that make it right? Are the writers of “Family Guy” doing the world any good by portraying Jesus in the manner that they have? It is often thought by critics that family guy goes too far. They create an image that tarnishes the view of Jesus and Christianity as a whole. They believe that the offensiveness needs to stop. Ultimately, the question should be asked; is humor an appropriate way of understanding Jesus? Or is this more offensive than it is beneficial?
For a montage of Jesus and God in Family Guy, click here