|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 a month earlier.
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. Tom performs Peter's crazy suggestions on the air, which displeases Peter's friends Joe and Quagmire. 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, which angers Lois and Joe, and an angry mob issue their complaints towards Peter for what he did to some of their favorite TV shows. Knowing that he will not be able to show his face in Quahog again, Peter decides to try and fix television, but Mayor Adam West shows up and shoots the boxes to pieces in retaliation for Peter putting another tree on One Tree Hill. 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 is the man who ruined television and is going to fix it. He 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. Abrams comes up with an idea about a show that details an alien that goes back in time and encounters a koala 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). 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.
Every television show goes back to normal as Peter is friends with Joe and Quagmire again. Peter 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 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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