It’s natural to love this show so much it can hurt you. And if you were on the Internet at all during the FXX marathon, then you know I’m not the only one with an obsessive addiction to rewatching the “golden years” of The Simpsons. Maybe that’s why “The Simpsons Guy” felt so much worse than it should have: It wasn’t just a bad episode of television; it was one that seemed hellbent on destroying the goodwill that’s usually at play in a typical Simpsons episode.
Take the aforementioned rape joke, for example, or the later scene where Stewie seeks revenge on Nelson by literally torturing him. The difference between Bart and Stewie is very clear: Bart is a mischievous kid with a slingshot, while Stewie is an evil asshole whose humor comes from the idea of a baby with murderous intentions. Seeing them side-by-side clarifies the different ideals and intentions of each comedy, and demonstrates why they don’t necessarily mix together very well. The scene takes Bart’s “Eat my shorts” catchphrase and makes it literal, turning the silly phrase into something actually cruel — a metaphor for the entire episode, actually.
But it’s necessary to remember that this is a Family Guy episode. There are going to be rape jokes, cutaway gags, dark and sadistic “humor,” and unbalanced writing (Lois and Marge don’t really have anything to do here; Lisa and Meg’s half-baked “storyline” turns into “girls are inherently competitive”). It all culminates in a yawn-inducing bloody fight between Homer and Peter that runs about eight minutes and is devoid of all humor (but will definitely be called “epic” by its fans).
“The Simpsons Guy” is a lame Family Guy episode that would never be talked about by anyone outside of the series’ core fanbase if it wasn’t also for the appearance of America’s favorite animated family. Family Guy is never going to be as great as The Simpsons, and both shows are aware of that. But “The Simpsons Guy” is bad for both of them: Family Guy comes off worse than usual, and it’s both frustrating and sad to see it try so hard to bring The Simpsons down to its level.