“Dogs are supposed to be able to instinctively live with purpose”: Brian, Family Guy, and the Inevitable Anthropocentrism of Satire: Brian, Family Guy, and the Inevitable Anthropocentrism of Satire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This chapter examines the representation of Brian the dog in the animated American comedy series, Family Guy (1999–). Brian is an anthropomorphised animal representation, capable of speech, who sits within a long tradition of such depictions in animation. Such portrayals can be seen to trouble animal–human binaries, and Family Guy often mines this rupture for satirical effect. This satire often works to make explicit the power hierarchies in animal–human relationship, especially within the cultural category of the “pet”, which is the role Brian is required to fulfil for the human family he is a part of. Through examination of key moments in specific episodes, this chapter explores Brian’s complex shifting between modes of the human and the animal, and highlights the satirical potential this offers. However, it also notes that, in narrative terms, Brian often remains trapped within power structures that are not of his making and which are not to his benefit. As such, Family Guy is here explored in terms of its representational contradictions, evidencing satire here to be a comic form whose radical possibilities are, in this case, muted in anthropocentric ways.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimal Satire
EditorsMcHugh Susan, McKay Robert
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages313-331
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-3031248719
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Animals and Literature
VolumePart F1300
ISSN (Print)2634-6338
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6346

Research Centres

  • Centre for Human Animal Studies

Research Groups

  • Television Studies Research Group

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