Seth MacFarlane Defends Controversial 'Family Guy' Episode Featuring Trans Character

"There isn’t a big change I would make," MacFarlane said of 2010's "Quagmire's Dad," which GLAAD once deemed "incredibly offensive to transgender people."
Seth MacFarlane is also the creator of "The Orville," which kicked off its third season on Hulu last month.
Seth MacFarlane is also the creator of "The Orville," which kicked off its third season on Hulu last month.
Leon Bennett via Getty Images

Seth MacFarlane is looking back on a 12-year-old episode of “Family Guy” which drew criticism at the time of its release for what many saw as its transphobic content.

Titled “Quagmire’s Dad,” the 2010 episode introduced viewers to Ida Davis, a transgender character and a Vietnam war hero voiced by MacFarlane. After undergoing gender confirmation surgery, Ida has sex with Brian Griffin, who is later disgusted to learn he’s slept with a trans woman.

Following its release, “Quagmire’s Dad” was widely condemned by LGBTQ advocacy groups like GLAAD, which deemed the episode “incredibly offensive to transgender people.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published last week, however, MacFarlane said he wouldn’t change anything about “Quagmire’s Dad.”

“There isn’t a big change I would make. It’s more about individual moments and individual jokes,” he said. “The intent of the ‘Family Guy’ episode was to show that Quagmire’s father was still a war hero, and still someone that he could look up to and respect.”

Catch a clip of “Family Guy” featuring the character of Ida Davis below.

“Actually, that episode was written by Steve Callaghan, a writer on ‘Family Guy,’ who had the same experience with his own parent,” he continued. “His father had transitioned to a woman — and he was writing, in many ways, from his own experience.”

As BuzzFeed points out, Callaghan isn’t listed as the main writer of “Quagmire’s Dad,” though he is cited as an executive producer. Later episodes of “Family Guy” featuring Ida, however didn’t fare much better. In 2019, journalist Mey Rude called out the show’s “extremely lazy jokes about trans people” in an essay published by Out magazine.

“Thanks for calling me gross and saying anyone willing to have sex with is me a hero, Seth,” Rude wrote at the time. “That’s just great.”

MacFarlane is also the creator of “The Orville,” which ran for two seasons on Fox before being picked up by Hulu for Season 3. Some episodes of the space adventure series have also grappled with the subject of gender identity to decidedly mixed results.

“Now, certainly the language of ‘Family Guy’ makes that story a little bit different than it would be on something like ‘The Orville,’ but I think that’s something that gets lost a little bit at times when we think of that show, that Steve was writing from experience,” MacFarlane told The Hollywood Reporter. “But ‘The Orville’ just requires a different kind of storytelling, and to be blunt, I enjoy it more. I’ve never enjoyed a writing process more than I have on this show.”

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