“Stewie’s First Word” kicks off the nineteenth season of Family Guy with a riff on a parent-child milestone and the show’s own internal logic.
This recap of Family Guy season 19, episode 1, “Stewie’s First Word”, contains spoilers.
The question of who can understand Stewie Griffin has been around as long as Family Guy itself, and it’s probably not worth thinking too much about. I mean, Brian is a dog, and everyone can understand him just fine. But the premiere of the show’s nineteenth season, fittingly titled “Stewie’s First Word”, makes a plot point of the matter. His first word turns out to be an F-bomb. In church.
I’m convinced I’ve seen episodes of Family Guy where Stewie speaks and Lois understands him, but maybe there’s a bit of the Mandela effect going on here. Nevertheless, Stewie was understandably annoyed to hear that cookies weren’t going to be served at the church coffee hour, and made his displeasure known to everyone. The point of the episode, which had some strong, near-the-knuckle gags, isn’t so much that Stewie spoke his first word but what exactly his first word was.
This has a knock-on effect for Lois, whose community standing takes a hit, and her first reaction is to shift the blame. If she didn’t teach Stewie the word – and she’s convinced she didn’t – then who did? Peter? The French-Canadian cartoon Caillou? The funniest bit of “Stewie’s First Word” is probably the jokes made at the expense of that horrifying show – clearly one of the writers exorcising some demons.
Now seems a weird time to build an episode around Stewie speaking; as Brian says, he’s been talking forever. We’re used to it. The story is really more about how Lois responds to it, and indeed how Stewie responds to Lois responding. There’s nothing much to it. It’s just a funny excuse to poke affectionate fun at the universal childrearing milestone and the horror of a parent when their child’s first word – first audible word to them, anyway – turns out to be a bad one. If only she knew some of the other stuff he’s said over the years.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.