The Jesus presented in “The 2000-Year-Old Virgin” is an adulterer and a liar who convinces Peter Griffin to let him sleep with his wife, Lois.
A committed promoter of athiesm, MacFarlane is no doubt pleased by the negative reaction of many Christian groups and commentators denouncing it as blasphemous and sacrilegious. In the episode itself, Peter labels the actions of Jesus “outrageous,” especially to “the 10 million Christians watching.”
An interesting thing about Family Guy, though, is that deviance is the main source of the show’s humor, and the gags are only funny because the characters and their actions are so morally objectionable.
For instance, why is Quagmire funny? He only draws laughs because he’s sexually perverted; his behavior is reprehensible and goes against everything people believe is right. If people thought his behavior was acceptable, it wouldn’t be funny.
To a large degree, then, MacFarlane’s comedy works against itself; he inadvertently affirms moral values in the process of lampooning them.
A similar phenomenon is at work in this episode. Despite attempting to take down Jesus, MacFarlane succeeds mainly in spreading the Gospel.
If a group of people watching this episode had never heard of Jesus and could rely on no other reference point, they would come away with a fairly accurate and Biblical account.
Here are 23 things we learn about Jesus from the episode:
- He is a significant person.
- At least “half the world” is familiar with Him.
- He’s “not into material possessions.”
- He’s the Son of God.
- His dad, God, has a “bigger plan” for people and knows how long they will live.
- His birthday is celebrated at Christmas.
- He likes all types of people.
- He is a virgin.
- His best friend was a prostitute.
- He died.
- He was born about 2,000 years ago.
- He lives “everywhere, all places, hopefully inside you.”
- He “wanders the desert lecturing people on how to act.”
- Something of importance happened to Him on “Good Friday.”
- His blood is wine.
- He’s from Israel and is Jewish.
- He “died for our sins.”
- He “ascended into Heaven.”
- He is good and his word is good (“If it wasn’t okay, [He] wouldn’t suggest it.”).
- He has the power to give people anything they want.
- He’s “not just any man, he’s a savior.”
- He’s “the one guy” athiests don’t believe in.
- He is “the messiah.”
In addition to these facts about Jesus, we also learn the Bible says not to covet your neighbor’s wife and that it would be funny to say the Bible “is just a bunch of general guidelines,” and that “none of the commandments are written in stone.”
Of course, the episode also reveals Christ as an adulterer and a liar.
But why did MacFarlane believe this would be funny?
He thought it would work as comedy because he knew the audience would recognize it as completely out of character for Jesus. If it were an accurate portrayal, nobody would find it humorous.
So why get worked up about a stupid cartoon? Even MacFarlane knows it isn’t true.
Bonus question: why get worked up about a savior in whom you allegedly don’t believe?