FOX dads Seth MacFralane

It’s never a good sign when critics are trashing your show… before it even hits the air. FOX’s live action Seth MacFarlane/Seth Green collab Dads is set to debut on September 17th, but critics are already blasting the show as racist and unfunny.

The Asian media monitoring group Media Action Network for Asian Americans has asked FOX to reshoot scenes in the show’s pilot before the episode plays to a home audience. The scenes in question are said to be “racist” and involve Asian stereotypes–particularly actress Brenda Song’s character dressing up as a “sexy Asian school girl.”

The show stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as two friends who must deal with their raucous, politically incorrect fathers–played by Martin Mull and Peter Riegert–when they move in as roommates. A glance at the official FOX promo for the series reveals that Asian jokes are a crux of the first episode’s plot. For their part, FOX has said they will not reshoot the scenes.

It’d be one thing if Dads was otherwise poised to be great, but critics aren’t in its corner. Jace Lacob of BuzzFeed called the show “horrifically unfunny,” and everyone else is jumping on the Dads-slamming bandwagon. The FOX promo treats us to jokes about “burp smell” and old men pooping between three and four in morning, so you be the judge.

Alex Sulkin, another of the show’s co-creators and writer and producer of Family Guy, told critics at the beginning of August that the show still needed time to develop, that all of the jokes were not in “calibration” yet (whatever that means). And indeed, you cannot judge the development of an entire series just from its pilot.

But this is a giddy sitcom, not The Sopranos. Right now, Dads reads very much like a live-action entry into the Seth MacFarlane oeuvre–which cannot be good news. Although MacFarlane and other Dads collaborators managed to translate their brand of humor to the live screen for the film Ted (2012)–starring Mark Wahlberg and his foul-mouthed teddy bear–the brutal nature of many Family Guy jokes just won’t fly in a real-world, real-actor setting (a quick YouTubing of “Family Guy Asian jokes” helps prove the point).

Matt Parker and Trey Stone of South Park once revealed that Eric Cartman was based on Archie Bunker, and furthermore they can get away with his political incorrectness because he’s an eight-year-old. But he’s also animated, and you can imagine the hellfire that would reign if he weren’t. Without the luxury of an animated buffer between viewers and predictably acrid MacFarlane material, Dads will mean back to the drawing board for FOX.

What’s your impression of Dads? Will you be tuning in? Leave your comments below!

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