The TV Weekly #218: In Defense Of… The Cleveland Show

Let’s wrap up season seven of The TV Weekly with a new In Defense Of…

Needless to say, Family Guy is just as a TV staple as The Simpsons and much like The Simpsons, its’ best years have past them buy but that doesn’t mean the show is still fun to watch. Unlike The Simpsons, however, Family Guy actually spawned off a spinoff and that was The Cleveland Show:

File:El Show de Cleveland (The Cleveland Show) Logo.png

The Cleveland Show is an American teenager animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane, Richard Appel, and Mike Henry for the Fox Broadcasting Company as a spin-off of Family Guy. The series centers on the Browns and Tubbs, two dysfunctional families consisting of parents Cleveland Brown and Donna Tubbs and their children Cleveland Brown, Jr., Roberta Tubbs, and Rallo Tubbs. Similar to Family Guy, it exhibits much of its humor in the form of cutaway gags that often lampoon American culture.

The series was conceived by MacFarlane in 2007 after developing the two animated series Family Guy and American Dad! for the Fox Network. MacFarlane centered the show on Family Guy character Cleveland Brown, his new wife Donna Tubbs, his step-children Rallo and Roberta Tubbs, and his son Cleveland, Jr., who, in the show, is depicted as an obese, soft-spoken teen, as opposed to his depiction as a younger, hyperactive child with average body weight on Family Guy.

The series originally aired from September 27, 2009, to May 19, 2013, for a total of four seasons and 88 episodes. The Cleveland Show was nominated for one Annie Award, one Primetime Emmy Award, and two Teen Choice Awards, but received mixed-to-average reviews from media critics. The series was canceled after its fourth season. Cleveland has since returned to Family Guy, accompanied by the rest of the Brown-Tubbs family, as of the twelfth season episode “He’s Bla-ack!”.

Running for four seasons, The Cleveland Show did have a lot of the same style of humor that Family Guy did and like with Frasier, it was a spinoff that took me by surprise the first time I watched it. I mean, of all the people on Family Guy to do a spinoff with, why Cleveland Brown? Why not Stewie? Quagmire? Joe? Brian? Um….Greased Up Deaf Guy???? I mean, Cleveland never really came off as anybody who could hold in his own environment.

And it does succeed….for the most part. It does have a lot of legitimately good hard laughs on the level you’d expect from Family Guy, mostly in the first few seasons, but there’s also a little bit of American Dad style humor thrown in there too, like this is sandwiched in-between Family Guy and American Dad in terms of humor that actually works.

A lot of it comes from the voice cast, who works great together here, Mike Henry and Sanaa Lathan have a lot of great chemistry as Cleveland and Donna, Henry also is decent as Rollo too, Kevin Michael Richardson’s fun to watch as Cleveland Jr., and Reagan Gomez-Preston is good as Roberta although it’s so odd that in the early episodes, Nia Long is the voice of Roberta but they replaced her midway through when the producers wanted a younger actress….kind of the opposite of what they did with Meg on Family Guy because in the early episodes, she was voiced by Lacey Chabert and then midway through season two, they got Mila Kunis to replace her.

The supporting characters themselves are not as memorable as the characters on Family Guy are, they’re not horrible but they don’t have the memorability to them that the colorful supporting characters on Family Guy do.

Most people don’t really give The Cleveland Show a fair assessment because it’s often seen as a lesser version of Family Guy but overall, it does gets good laughs, it has good animation, the main characters are well-voiced, it’s an overall enjoyable show, maybe not on Family Guy levels but it’s still very enjoyable.

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