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"Extra Large Medium"
Family Guy episode
A cartoon drawing of two men, one fatter than the other wearing a white shirt and glasses, and the other with dark hair and a red and yellow shirt, holding hands across a table, with the lights dimmed, as they glare into each other's eyes.
Peter believes he has obtained extrasensory perception.
Episode no. Season 8
Episode 12
Written by Steve Callaghan
Directed by John Holmquist
Production no. 7ACX14
Original airdate February 14, 2010
Guest stars
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"Dial Meg for Murder" "Go Stewie Go"
Family Guy (season 8)
List of Family Guy episodes

"Extra Large Medium" is the twelfth episode of season eight of the Fox animated comedy Family Guy, and aired on February 14, 2010 on Fox. The episode follows Peter as he discovers his supposed newly developed "psychic abilities," after his sons Chris and Stewie go missing during a family hike in the woods. Soon after being rescued, Chris decides to ask out a fellow classmate at his school who has Down syndrome, and takes her on a romantic date, which he goes on to regret.

The episode was written by series showrunner Steve Callaghan and directed by John Holmquist. It received mixed to positive reviews from critics for its storyline and many cultural references, in addition to receiving strong criticism from Sarah Palin. According to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed in 6.42 million homes in its original airing. The episode featured guest performances by Jennifer Birmingham, Jackson Douglas, Andrea Fay Friedman, Phil LaMarr, Michele Lee and Nana Visitor, along with several recurring guest voice actors for the series.

Contents

Plot

When the Griffin family decide to go for a hike in the local woods, Chris and Stewie get lost while chasing after a floating butterfly. As a result, they go missing for several days, with only limited supplies. With Lois at her wit's end, she chooses to see a psychic medium, who assures her of the children's safety and well being. Eventually, the boys are found and rescued by Bruce, and are then returned to their home in Quahog, only furthering Lois's psychic obsession, to the annoyance of a skeptical Brian. In defiance of Lois's assertion that exterasensory perception exists, Brian has Peter perform a cold reading on a passerby in the park, in order to demonstrate that psychic readings are purely an act, and not real. Peter is struck by his success as a medium, however, convincing himself that he actually has extrasensory perception, and decides to capitalize on it by opening his own psychic readings business, and performing in front of a live audience. Soon after, Peter's bluff is finally caught when Joe requests his help in a frantic search for a missing person who has been strapped to a bomb. Peter stalls for time during the search, (as he just wants to feel the victim's daughter's breasts) eventually resulting in a gruesome death when the bomb explodes, and prompting Peter to flatly admit that he actually has no psychic powers whatsoever.

Meanwhile, during the time when Chris and Stewie were lost in the woods, Chris promises to ask out Ellen, a school classmate with Down syndrome, whose father is an accountant and her mother is the former governor of Alaska. After their rescue, Stewie helps prepare Chris for a date by dressing him up, and instructing him on how to act during a prolonged musical song and dance number. During the date, Ellen winds up being pushy and demanding, and the relationship quickly fails apart. Chris admits that he had bought into a stereotype of people with Down syndrome as being kind and loving, and breaks up with her. Stewie consoles Chris by congratulating him for overcoming his shyness, and demonstrating confidence in asking her out on a date as he had promised to do.

Production

A man with brown hair, leans forward slightly to speak into a microphone.
Steve Callaghan wrote the episode.

The episode was directed by series regular John Holmquist, and written by series showrunner Steve Callaghan before the conclusion of the seventh production season.

In addition to the regular cast, voice actress Jennifer Birmingham, actor Jackson Douglas, Andrea Fay Friedman, voice actor Phil LaMarr, singer Michele Lee, and actress Nana Visitor guest starred in the episode. Recurring guest voice actors Lori Alan, writer Danny Smith, writer Alec Sulkin and writer John Viener also made minor appearances.

Actress Andrea Fay Friedman, who voiced the character Ellen, has Down syndrome.[1] In developing the character, Friedman's physical appearance was largely used in creating the cartoon version of Ellen.[2] The episode was Friedman's first voice acting role, and, in an interview, she stated that in playing the character, she did not want to be "bossy," but eventually "had a nice time" performing the script.[3]

Cultural references

Peter mentions starring in Starlight Express, which was a rock musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.[4] Stewie's reference to a newspaper headline saying "Stewie Defeats Truman" is a takeoff of the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline, which erroneously predicted that Thomas E. Dewey would defeat Harry S. Truman in the 1948 presidential election.[4] Peter's new career as a psychic is a parody of John Edward and his TV show Crossing Over.[4] While the police depend on Peter to help them find someone, Peter stalls by pretending to channel the spirit of Lou Costello; his exchange with Joe about the missing man, Mr. Hu who lives on First Street, is a takeoff of the famous Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?"[4]

Reception

In a slight improvement over the previous week, the episode was viewed in 6.42 million homes, a number significantly lower than the season premier, largely due to airing simultaneously with the 2010 Winter Olympics. The episode also acquired a 3.2/8 rating in the 18-49 demographic, beating The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show and American Dad!.[5]

Reviews of the episode were mixed to positive, citing the episode as "a pleasant surprise." Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club noted that the Chris plotline "hung together in a way the storylines usually don't on this show," giving the episode a B-.[6] Ramsey Isler of IGN called the plot "uneven in quality," but with "some moments that could be in the Family Guy "greatest hits" archive."[7] Jason Hughes of the TV Squad called the Abbott and Costello joke "hilariously appropriate", and stated that the episode's portrayal of a person with Down syndrome was "refreshing".[8]

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Controversy

A woman with brown hair tied back, and glasses, looks to her side slightly, while speaking into a microphone
Former Governor Sarah Palin took great offense to the episode.

At one point, Ellen states that her mother is the former Governor of Alaska, a reference to Sarah Palin, who is the only woman to have served in the office of governor in the state. Palin's daughter Bristol publicly stated on her mother's Facebook profile on February 16, 2010, that she took offense to the episode, feeling that it mocked her brother, Trig, who has Down syndrome, commenting, "If the writers of a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my mom and my family yesterday, they failed."[9] Sarah Palin herself also criticized the episode in an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, calling those who made the show "cruel, cold-hearted people."[10]

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Seth MacFarlane responded to Palin's criticism, saying that the series always uses satire as the basis of its humor, and that the show is an "equal-opportunity offender."[11] In addition, Andrea Fay Friedman, who voiced Ellen, and who herself has Down syndrome, also responded to the criticisms saying that the joke was aimed at Sarah Palin and not her son, and that "former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor."[3] In a subsequent interview, Friedman rebuked Palin, accusing her of using her son, Trig, as a political prop to pander for votes, saying that she has a normal life and that Palin's son should be treated as normal, rather than like a "loaf of French bread."[12]

Later, MacFarlane addressed both Palin's statement and Friedman's rebuttal in an appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher calling Palin's outrage a presumptuous attempt to defend people with Down syndrome, and characterizing Friedman's statement as her way of saying that she does not need feigned pity from Palin.[13]

Family Guy cast member Patrick Warburton stated that he objected to the joke, saying: "I know that you have to be an equal-opportunity offender, but there are some things that I just don't think are funny."[14]

Criticism

While frequent MacFarlane critic Parents Television Council touched on the Palin controversey in its assessment of the episode, the rest of the show's content — which contained "mean-spirited pot-shots, explicit language, and strong sexual content" — earned Family Guy the watchdog group's "Worst TV Show of the Week" honors. The PTC specifically cited the Broadway-style song, which the PTC said "contained all the stereotypes of mental retardation" and "disturbing sexual references," and the climatic scene in the subplot (where Peter pretends to be a psychic), which the PTC said also contained sexual humor.[15]

References

  1. ^ a b Bauer, E. Patricia (2010-02-15). "Fox's 'Family Guy' tweaks Down syndrome, Palin". http://www.patriciaebauer.com/2010/02/15/family-guy-down-syndrome-palin-28106/. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  2. ^ "'Family Guy' Actress Responds To Sarah Palin's Criticism". Huffington Post. February 18, 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/18/family-guy-actress-respon_n_468331.html. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  3. ^ a b "‘Family Guy’ Voice Actor Says Palin ‘Does Not Have a Sense of Humor’". The New York Times. February 18, 2010. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/family-guy-voice-actor-says-palin-does-not-have-a-sense-of-humor/. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Extra Large Medium" Non-Sequiturs Explained at Sling.com
  5. ^ Seidman, Robert. "TV Ratings Sunday: Olympics Take Night, But Undercover Boss Strong in Second Outing". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/02/15/tv-ratings-sunday-olympics-take-night-but-undercover-boss-strong-in-second-outing/4203. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  6. ^ ""Boy Meets Curl"/"Buried Pleasure"/"Extra Large Medium"/"May the Best Stan Win"". The A.V. Club. 2010-2-15. http://www.avclub.com/articles/boy-meets-curlburied-pleasureextra-large-mediummay,38209/. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  7. ^ "Family Guy: "Extra Large Medium" Review". IGN. http://tv.ign.com/articles/106/1069298p1.html. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  8. ^ "Sundays with Seth: Love Is Mean and Sometimes Violent, but It's Eternal". TV Squad. February 15, 2010. http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/02/15/sundays-with-seth-love-is-mean-and-sometimes-violent-but-its/. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  9. ^ Fox Hollywood - What a Disappointment
  10. ^ "Sarah Palin Responds To "Family Guy"". Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/16/sarah-palin-responds-to-f_n_464939.html. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  11. ^ "Sarah Palin vs. 'Family Guy': Seth MacFarlane responds (sort of)". Los Angeles Times. February 16, 2010. ""From its inception, 'Family Guy' has used biting satire as the foundation of its humor. The show is an "equal-opportunity offender."" 
  12. ^ "'Family Guy' Actress Says Sarah Palin is Chasing Votes". The Insider. February 19, 2010. http://www.theinsider.com/news/3204244__Family_Guy_Actress_Says_Sarah_Palin_is_Chasing_Votes/. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  13. ^ Real Time With Bill Maher. HBO. February 19, 2010. “This was an actress that was frustrated by the because what I think Sarah Palin was doing was coming out and saying I am here to defend you. And what Andrea, the actress, said was I don't need this, I love my life. I'm very happy, and I don't need you to use this piece of cartoon footage to inspire phony pity because I'm very happy and very content with my life”
  14. ^ ""Family Guy" actor Warburton takes Sarah Palin's point". Washington Post. February 24, 2010. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/tvblog/2010/02/family-guy-actor-warburton-tak.html. Retrieved 2010-3-4. 
  15. ^ ""Family Guy" on Fox". Parents Television Council. February 26, 2010. http://parentstv.org/PTC/publications/bw/2010/0226worst.asp. Retrieved March 1, 2010. 

External links

Preceded by
Dial Meg for Murder
Family Guy (season 8) Succeeded by
Go Stewie Go

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