Family Guy has been credited with calling out wrongdoers and anticipating scandals long before they erupt in the headlines, but show creator Seth MacFarlane clarified Thursday that this isn't exactly the case.
"I think the myth that Family Guy is this Kreskin-like prognosticator of this kind of stuff is a little sensationalized," he said during Fox's portion of the Television Critics Association press tour. "It's interesting that [with respect to] the narrative that's been decided by others, the idea that Family Guy is this cartoon Ouija Board that predicts these things."
MacFarlane specifically pointed to fans' speculations that he and Family Guy writers hinted at Kevin Spacey's inappropriate behavior way before news broke about the actor's decades of sexual misconduct last fall.
Back in 2005, Family Guy aired an episode in which Stewie runs through a store yelling, "Help! I've escaped from Kevin Spacey's basement! Help me!" Eagle-eyed viewers recalled the scene and circulated the clip in October after Spacey became cause for investigation.
"I remember, when [the joke] got pitched, that was a rumor I had not heard, but people in the writer's room had. And it had to be sort of explained to me," MacFarlane said Thursday. "'Oh, there's this rumor that's going around.'"
Executive producer Alec Sulkin, who was also on the panel, said he remembered the joke being pitched, though he didn't remember the specifics of how it came about.
"I think that that was something where he was coming out of a story where I think he had sort of been kind of beaten up in a London park, and he claimed that he was walking his dog late at night and fell," Sulkin said. "And I think that raised a lot of eyebrows and you know, it's one of those things, in terms of standards, where if they've heard the rumors as we have, then they'll allow it."
MacFarlane added that he was surprised by the phenomenon that sent the five-second clip viral shortly after it resurfaced in October.
"I was just watching this all happen from afar," he said. "I don't know that there's a lot of research against it. I think it's sort of the modern thing where it's more important to be first than it is to be right. And it gets out there and somebody else picks it up and somebody else picks it up and then it just becomes viral. It's a strange thing to observe. Again, we play our show the same as anybody else and we make the same topical ones that The Simpsons does, that South Park does. And you work with what you have, whether that be swirling rumor or … fact."