I was certain that the storyline for tonight’s episode of Family Guy would offend on pretty much every level. When Mort Goldman mistakes Stewie’s time machine for a toilet (he had taken both a laxative and a stool loosener), he is transported to Warsaw, Poland on September 1, 1939. For those of you who paid attention during history class, that was the day that the Nazis began their invasion of Poland. Transplanting Family Guy’s token Jewish stereotype to this time and place seemed to be in fairly poor taste, even for a show that prides itself on shock humor.
However, I’m happy to report that while the episode was still wildly offensive, it was no worse than any other episode of the oft-controversial series and never stepped over the line to become overtly anti-Semitic. After Mort disappears, Stewie and Brian travel back in time to find him and sneak him into England. Of course, they soon get caught up in World War II, and their adventure brings them to Berlin, where they come face-to-face with Adolf Hitler himself. Shenanigans ensue.
As expected from this premise, “Road to Germany” is rife with gags referencing Back to the Future and the Indiana Jones films, and the show’s writers even worked in a nod to 1933 Marx Brothers’ classic Duck Soup. The episode also features a brilliantly well-timed jab at McCain/Palin (Stewie finds one of their campaign pins on a Nazi’s lapel). I could probably take this opportunity to criticize Family Guy’s continued reliance on references and cut-away sequences as opposed to jokes evolving from a storyline, but that would be like criticizing South Park for being preachy. It is what it is, and if you don’t see that by now, why are you watching?