Seth MacFarlane's Unfair Sex Trope
Seth MacFarlane's Unfair Sex Trope is an incredibly recurring trope in all of Seth MacFarlane's shows where the female characters, usually the wives, are to be portrayed as hypocritical, promiscuous sociopaths, yet have moral superiority over their husband 99.999% of the time. They are allowed to be just as flawed (maybe even more so) than their husbands as long as it doesn't have any impact on the plot; only the husbands' flaws can cause conflict.
Why This Trope is Unfair
- All of the male characters in these shows are treated with flaws that cause conflict, and they try to solve their problems and it helps them grow. The female characters like the housewives are given flaws, but they never cause conflict, which is not just unfair, but it is also pure shallow character development.
- Every time a female character does something bad, the episode tries to gain sympathy to the character to pity her, and make it seem that she doesn't deserve what she got. Like when Angela continuously sexually harassed Peter, and tried to force him to have sex with her in a Family Guy episode, and then the episode tried to make the viewers feel sorry for her.
- The trope has given the female characters superiority over their husbands. Which has made the husband characters look like wimpy idiots who are intimidated by their wives, and it's like the wives are dictating the relationships with their husbands. Which is just not cool. This gives out the bad message that in order for a relationship to be healthy, men must give women everything they want because women are entitled to it, which basically turns said women, especially wives into spoiled brats. That too is unrealistic as given a wife everything they want does not make a marriage healthy but instead it turns such a marriage into a toxic and co-dependent relationship.
- The trope is also incredibly hypocritical. While the husband characters do things that are very bad like cheat on their wife, it's portrayed as what the husband did was wrong. But when the wife cheats on the husband, it's automatically treated like it's no big deal. Like when Carter Pewterschmidt cheated on Barbara, the episode portrays it as a morally wrong thing to do. But when Barbara cheated on Carter, the episode treated it like it was no big deal. And that was the same episode where Lois's brother Patrick became a fat guy strangler.
- Because these shows choose to have only the flaws of men cause conflict, it portrays said men as in the wrong all the time. In the case of marriages, the shows are basically saying that everything bad that happens in a marriage is the husband’s fault, which is completely untrue.
- Nothing bad ever really happens to the female characters. Even when they deserve it. Because of this, episodes that feature this trope have the female characters use their own gender as an excuse to become a karma Houdini but in reality being a woman is actually a very lousy attempt to justify escaping justice.
Examples of MacFarlane's Unfair Sex Trope
- In "Big Man on Hippocampus", Lois forcefully and lustfully tongue kisses Richard Dawson, but later when Peter, who was under amnesia, is going to have sex with another woman, Lois is hurt and leaves him. Within less than a day, she is in Quagmire's bed. This is especially jarring with the sheer hypocrisy that she's conveying. She had no justification of kissing Dawson, other than just to say she did, but Peter actually did have a justification; he had amnesia and didn't even know who Lois was at the time. And let's reiterate that Lois forced herself on Richard's mouth while Peter's date showed no obvious signs of not consenting.
- In "Go, Stewie, Go!", Lois is constantly barraged by Peter's insults regarding her age and declining sex appeal. Lois goes to Bonnie for help, and Bonnie actually admits she has had an affair with a man online and encouraged Lois to do the same since it's only a matter of "being in control of her sexuality." She makes out with Meg's boyfriend, and is caught by a very pissed off Meg and later Lois admits the affair to Peter and says that he drove her to it instead of admitting it was her own fault.
- And in "Lois Comes Out of Her Shell", Peter makes insensitive remarks about her age again, leading to Lois having a mid life crisis, degrading into a teenager and having a promiscuous lifestyle. She ditches Peter when he can't keep up and later tries to seduce Justin Bieber. Peter accuses Bieber and beats him up, while Lois blames it all on him, claiming all her actions (including an attempted affair) were just to make him happy. Peter accepts this and takes full blame again.
- Bonnie's cheating and double standard nature is further explored in "Foreign Affairs" and "Internal Affairs." In the former, she makes another attempt (who knows how many times she's done this) to cheat on Joe, getting angry when Lois is rightfully disgusted by her intent and is only convinced to stop when Joe shows up. In the latter, she is cold and indifferent to him most of the episode, with Joe stating she's been like that recently. Her behaviour drives Joe to cheat on her (helped by being reminded of her attempt to cheat on him in "Foreign Affairs" but thinking she actually did, a point screeched by Bonnie when Joe's affair is found out. Not that the fact she failed that time should really hold any weight, since she has outright stated she cheated on Joe at least once before) and she is outraged when she finds out.
- In "The Perfect Castaway", after Peter gets shipwrecked for a long period of time, he returns to find Lois has married Brian. She is emotionally distant and condescending to Brian and refuses to be intimate with him. However, when Lois finally submits to lust and has an affair with Peter, Brian is made to feel bad for robbing her of a happy love life and lets her marry Peter again. As a final insult, she explains afterwards, in the most patronising tone possible, that she was a day from actually having sex with Brian.
- In "Lethal Weapons", Lois learns Tai Jitsu and becomes drunk with power. She abuses and rapes Peter, upon which she blames him for belittling her and not giving her a say in the household. Later on, after slugging Peter hard and then gloating about it, Peter finally snaps and slugs her back, upon which Lois immediately whines double standard. Peter, however, hands it back to her and both of them end beating each other into an equally bloody pulp, with their own children and pet beating each other up.
- In "Partial Terms of Endearment", Lois becomes a surrogate mother, Peter is portrayed as completely selfish and ignorant for arguing with this (the same guy who is lectured over and over for ignoring their commitment and not giving Lois a say in anything). Later on, Lois changes her mind and decides to abort the baby, to which Peter changes his mind and insists she keep it. Once again, the complainer is wrong as it is strictly Peter who is portrayed as wrong.
- An episode of American Dad used a similar plot, with Stan being portrayed as inconsiderate for complaining about Francine having a surrogate baby behind his back.
- Carter Pewterschidt once cheated on his wife, Barbara; the episode "Welcome Back Carter" was devoted to showing how tight and loving (in a twisted sense) their relationship was, and how unforgivable Carter's actions were, despite the fact Barbara had once left Carter for Ted Turner the moment he lost his fortune, had an affair with Jackie Gleason (that traumatised her son to insanity), and also was perfectly willing to have sex with Peter due to being unsatisfied sexually by Carter. The end of the episode stated Barbara did it so as to divorce Ted and get half his money and belongings so she and Carter could go back to being rich. And it's implied that Barbara has already had to deal with a lot of crap from Carter, such as having to renounce her Jewish heritage while dealing with him playing pranks on her because of it.
- It happened again in "Carter and Tricia" where Carter becomes immediately smitten with Tricia Takenawa and dumps Babs off into a mental institution to have Tricia be his new playmate... but the episode ends with the family pondering Bab's resolution with Carter, and shrug it off as her simply being back in place when needed again.
- In "Peter-assment", Peter had been sexually harassed by his boss Angela. When he tells Lois, she says very bluntly, "A woman can't sexually harass a man." Later in the episode, Angela reveals that she was only sexually harassing Peter because she's too unattractive to get a man any other way, which suddenly and bizarrely makes her sympathetic.
- Loretta even falls into this. Later in "Love, Blactually", when Peter asked Quagmire to seduce her to show Cleveland she was no good for him, she accused him of ruining her marriage with Cleveland, despite the fact that she had seduced him by taking advantage of his lack of self-control in "The Cleveland-Loretta-Quagmire."
- Likewise, ”The Cleveland-Loretta-Quagmire” has Loretta cheat on Cleveland with Quagmire yet when Cleveland confronts Loretta about this, Loretta makes her adultery look like Cleveland’s fault as she says she did it because Cleveland was not giving her passion and was not being a “real man”. Even worse is that Peter and Lois agree that Celevland is the one in the wrong here and try to change him even though Cleveland is the victim. Aside from being divorced, Loretta does not receive any punishment for her infidelity in this episode.
- In "Valentine's Day in Quahog", Stewie brings in all of Brian's previous dates to counsel him over his love life. They go through his numerous flaws, which eventually degrade into petty insults such as laughing at his small penis. When Brian is insulted, they claim he's overreacting to honest criticism. A snarky Brian backhands this by insulting them, leading them to all chase after him in a violent rage, and yet they sleep with him at the end of the episode anyway.
- In "The Heartbreak Dog", Brian and Bonnie relate to each other's feelings of being trapped in their current life (Bonnie's in particular is about depression over being married to a cripple) and kiss. When Joe learns about it, he becomes antagonistic only to Brian. However, when Brian stages an intervention to stop Joe's vindictiveness, Peter, Lois, Quagmire and Cleveland all agree that while Brian did wrong Joe, Bonnie should be equally at fault, and Joe shoots Brian’s foot, which was very unjustified.
- In "Hot Shots", Lois believes vaccinations are a bad thing and starts an anti-campaign to get rid of vaccinating, and it worked. But when a measles epidemic breaks out and 150 people die all because of Lois, the episode tries to make you sympathise with Lois and blame Peter instead. Even to the point where Peter gets the measles, but Lois doesn't get any punishments.
- In the episode "Stan Time," Stan gets some pills from the CIA that let him function without sleep so that he can use the night as personal time, since his every waking hour is devoted to taking care of his family. When Francine finds out, she demands that Stan give her the pills as well so that they can spend the nighttime together, yet again robbing Stan of his "me time". When he attempts to put his foot down, Francine abandons the family to discover herself. The episode presents Stan as being in the wrong, and it's up to him to find Francine and apologise for being selfish and taking his loved ones for granted -- all because he just wanted enough quiet time to read a book in peace.
- Punctuated by Francine having almost the ''exact same aesop'' in a later episode. However, while Francine learns to be appreciative of what she has, she is granted a fair compromise and some time to herself, something Stan does not.
- Stan and Francine are often given similar aesops. For example, both have had episodes where they check out the opposite sex and in both cases Stan is the one in the wrong. Even when it turns out that Francine is just an incredibly selfish lover Stan is still wrong for trying too hard. What makes it worse Francine is treated very sympathetically even though she was openly lusting after her daughter’s boyfriend to the point of putting her families lives in danger. While Stan is called out over looking at other woman when he has such a hot wife.
- in "The Kidney Stays in the Picture", where Francine is revealed to have had an affair just a day before their marriage. Stan is still the bad guy, to the point the affair is depicted as being for the best, because it might have led to Hayley's birth.
- In "Pulling Double Booty", where we learn that Hayley enters an Unstoppable Rage if her boyfriend dumps her... despite having no hesitations doing the dumping herself. Just to hammer this in, when Francine panically tells Stan about Hayley breaking up with Jeff, he initially doesn't see the big deal, even noting that Hayley dumps him every other week, and only panics himself upon learning that Jeff did the dumping this time. Hayley is threatened with jail the next time she goes on a rampage, but the episode proceeds to treat any man interested in her as preemptively at fault for having the potential to dump her, never once attempting to address Hayley's temper.
- In "Bullocks to Stan", Hayley spends the whole episode switching between Bullock and Jeff, and dumping them in the most callous manner (as well as endangering Stan's career and the family's upbringing in the process). The Aesop is about Stan not treating her with enough respect.
The Cleveland Show
- In "Frapp Attack", Donna becomes jealous of Cleveland being friends with Tori, a female coworker, believing that men and women can't be friends because, in her mind, Cleveland's friendship with Tori is akin to having an affair. Later, after the music producer who is interested in the resulting "Frapp Attack" video begins flirting with Donna in Cleveland's absence, Cleveland tries to warn her only to have it dismissed it as harmless, falsely equivocating it with his relationship with Tori.