At this point, excoriating Seth MacFarlane for cheap jokesmithing is about as hackneyed as Family Guy (Seasons 4–12) itself. But, to give the guy credit, he continues to come up with creative new ways to squeeze clunky jokes from easy mockery of such diverse groups as women, minorities, the handicapped, and stuffed animals.
In Ted 2, Ted is now married to a blonde reproductive device played by Jessica Barth. However, Ted learns (after getting semen-donating best friend Mark Wahlberg soaked in other men’s genetic material at the fertility clinic) that he must legally prove he’s a person in order for the state to condone his in-vitro fertilization of his sentient womb, er, wife. So Ted 2 seems bent on being the hottest skewering of America’s Gay Marriage Debate since the razor-sharp satire of 2007’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.
But Ted 2 seems more like MacFarlane, via his teddy-bear avatar, trying to play out a fantasy of cultural victimization under the guise of lowbrow comedy. He’s created a character that utterly embraces every traditional straight-guy fantasy while being entirely freed from responsibility (a rude, drunk, playboy who’s also an adorable teddy bear). And now Ted is also legally disenfranchised, just because of how he was born! And in the process of proving that everyone deserves equal justice under the law, even bro-y Masshole teddy bears, he’ll earn the respect of wise older black men and be soundtracked by Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power.” And Amanda Seyfried will laugh at his jokes.
It’s not that MacFarlane has any responsibility to position himself on the vanguard of social justice. There’s honestly a place for comedy that aims no higher than dumping semen on its leads while they yell at each other in cartoonish Bostonian accents. But one of America’s preeminent straight-white-guy comedians making comedy out of casting himself as a target of legal discrimination doesn’t quite come off as empathetic satire. It comes off as “hey, me too!”. It’s not that it’s offensive; it’s just pretty lazy. Comedy’s No. 1 sin.