|Family Guy episode|
|Episode no.||Season 11
|Directed by||James Purdum|
|Written by||Dave Ihlenfeld
|Original air date||October 7, 2012|
"Ratings Guy" is the second episode of the eleventh season of the animated comedy series Family Guy. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 7, 2012. The episode follows the Griffin family becoming a Nielsen family and Peter attempting to take over the TV airwaves.
This episode was dedicated in memory of both Phyllis Diller (who voiced Thelma Griffin in several episodes of the show) and Michael Clarke Duncan (who had a brief voice role in this episode). This episode was also one of Duncan's final roles before his untimely death from complications following a heart attack.
The Griffins receive a letter from the Nielsen Company telling them they have been selected to have their viewing habits monitored. Tom Tucker comes to the door, having heard of the Griffins becoming a Nielsen family, and asks Peter for some suggestions to change the show to watch the news which involves Tom Tucker shaving off his mustache, wearing a jester hat, trying to start a chainsaw, and stating news that would cause a group of prairie dogs to pop up in confusion. At the Drunken Clam, Peter's crazy suggestions come true on the air as Joe and Quagmire are not pleased with the idea. When the Nielsen representative returns to reset the card on his Nielsen box, Peter takes the opportunity to steal a bunch of Nielsen boxes so he can have a much bigger impact on the ratings.
Peter soon forces many shows to make outlandish changes to "improve" them like having the use of rollerskates on Breaking Bad. When Peter calls up Jon Hamm about a suggestion to Mad Men, Jon Hamm turns him down. One week later, Jon Hamm calls up Peter stating to him about a drop in the show's ratings and takes whatever suggestion he has. The episode of Mad Men has the characters engage in a lightsaber battle over a disagreement while Ace Frehley plays guitar. Lois is shown to be offended by this. The next day, Peter has Dateline NBC reveal the killer in the first five minutes of the show. At bedtime, Peter watches The Late Show with David Letterman where David Letterman reads a bedtime story for Peter called "Good Night Truck" followed by Paul Shaffer singing Peter a lullaby. After seeing Cops where a police officer wields a banana, Joe is offended by this and ordered Bonnie to push him away with him in disappointment. When the Griffins are watching the show "Creeping Up on the Kardashians" (a supposed spin-off of Keeping Up with the Kardashians where a guy creeps up on the Kardashian family), they are interrupted by the arrival of an angry mob who issue their complaints towards Peter for what he did to some TV shows. Quagmire says that Peter put a real cougar on Cougar Town which is now dead because Courteney Cox ripped it apart with her teeth and claws. Seamus says that Peter turned Anderson Cooper 360° into Anderson Cooper 720° making Anderson Cooper turn around too much. Carter Pewterschmidt says that Peter converted The Biggest Loser to the metric system making it look like the contestants aren't losing enough weight. When Peter claims that he is a Nielsen God, Horace throws a glass bottle at Peter injuring him as the angry mob cheers. Bruce tries to throw another bottle, but it comes short since this was the first time he has ever thrown anything.
At the hospital, Dr. Hartman refuses to treat Peter for his wounds and plans to have the worst doctor in the hospital do the job (which turns out to be Dr. Hartman himself upon asking one of the nurses). At the Drunken Clam, Joe and Quagmire do not want Peter around them (with Quagmire making references to the Wasteland Speech) and Horace orders Peter to leave when he tries to sit at the bar. Knowing that he will not be able to show his face in Quahog again, Peter decides to try and fix television since he is saddened about not wanting to enjoy things with Joe and Quagmire. Brian encourages Peter to use his Nielsen boxes to watch more intelligent shows, but Mayor Adam West shows up and shoots the boxes to pieces in retaliation for Peter putting another tree on One Tree Hill before running off. Brian believes that they are now sunk, but suddenly Peter comes up with another plan.
Peter goes to the Television Producers Guild for help stating that he's the guy who ruined television and is going to fix it. When Homer Simpson shows up with the same plight, Peter tells him "Ya-ha! Looks like this is one WE beat YOU to!" Peter gathers many TV producers (including J.J. Abrams, Mark Burnett and Dick Wolf) and Kelsey Grammer to discuss ideas to make their shows better again. J.J. Abrams comes up with an idea about a show that details an alien that goes back in time and encounters a koala bear in an Eastern European town and Peter tells him to go with that idea. Peter then has four TV producers to make 15 workplace comedies where people talk to the camera for some reason (with Peter doing a reference to The Office). Mark Burnett is asked by Peter to give him a reality show where people do horrible, unforgivable things to each other for embarrassingly small sums of money. Peter then has two TV producers leave to make a show about horrible New Jersey freaks and tells Dick Wolf to give him the same Law & Order six times. Peter tells the TV producers from Bravo do a show about women fighting. After everyone else leaves to make some talent shows, Peter notices that he had left out Kelsey Grammer and states that he doesn't have anything for him to do. Kelsey Grammer then quotes "Ah. Then I shall take my ease on the lanai."
Every television show goes back to normal as Peter is friends with Joe and Quagmire again as they watch Mike & Molly at the Drunken Clam. After Joe and Quagmire have finally forgiven Peter, he then quotes "Well, let's drink to having TV back in the hands of people who know what they're doing." The final scene shows that Herbert has repaired the Nielsen boxes which Mayor Adam West destroyed and is using them to make his own changes to TV. He calls up the Disney Channel to have Zack and Cody in their underpants claiming that their show would be funnier that way.
The episode received a 3.4 rating and was watched by a total of 6.70 million people, this made it the most watched show on Animation Domination that night, beating The Cleveland Show, Bob's Burgers, American Dad! and The Simpsons with 6.57 million. The episode was met with mixed reviews from critics. Kevin McFarland of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B-, saying "Ratings Guy" didn’t insult Nielsen viewers for championing shows that are at odds with critical consensus or ignoring the “best shows” like AMC’s cable darlings or HBO/Showtime material, which I’ll take as a small saving grace. It focused more on the production end, how the industry grovels and panders to the masses in hopes that they can mechanically churn out desirable programming at the lowest possible cost, instead of striving to produce something of quality and finding a way to make it work. There’s a deeper point somewhere in this episode. But after a first act that easily punctuated beats with a lot of laughs, whatever it is Seth MacFarlane and the writers wanted to say about television in general, and how Nielsen ratings disproportionately affect what the industry produces, got muffled by a mood-killing second act and a sloppy conclusion.
Carter Dotson of TV Fanatic gave the episode three and a half stars out of five, saying "Yet the show painted such broad strokes, as it does tend to do, that it didn’t really have a whole lot to say, other than that they think idiots determine what’s ‘popular’ and what isn’t. Yeah, that’s an original viewpoint. It’s ironic that this show, hardly the most intelligent one on TV, is determined to be more popular than a show like Bob’s Burgers, thanks to the Nielsen ratings. Stones, glass houses, and whatnot, though it was low ratings that caused the show to die twice. But it’s also the same ratings that’s caused the show to keep going, through its cable revival and high ratings since then. And as with every criticism of Nielsen, there’s no real solution for what to do that’s better, really. So it winds up all feeling like empty words. It may have been topical, but it felt punchless. I was moderately amused, but felt like there was so much more that could have been said. It’s a waste of the platform for only a few reference-based yuks."
- Kondolojy, Amanda. "Sunday Final Ratings: 'Once Upon a Time' & 'The Amazing Race' Adjusted Up; '60 Minutes' Adjusted Down + Final Football Numbers". Zap2it. TVbytheNumbers.
- McFarland, Kevin (2012-10-07). "Family Guy: “Ratings Guy”". Avclub.com. Retrieved 2014-08-12.
- "Family Guy Review: Breaking Bad on Roller Skates". TV Fanatic. 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2014-08-12.
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