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October 24, 2014

'Seth & Alex's Almost Live' Spoofs the Deaf: Was It Offensive?

by Chris Jordan, posted Nov 9th 2009 1:18PM
Seth MacFarlane and Marlee MatlinApparently, it's open season on people with disabilities in TV comedy land.

In February, 'Saturday Night Live''s Fred Armisen did an unflattering spoof of New York governor David Paterson, who is legally blind. The skit was roundly criticized for being insensitive.

Last night, Fox one-upped 'SNL' with the controversial variety special 'Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show.' During the show, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein performed various routines mocking the speaking voice of deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who won an Oscar for 'Children of a Lesser God' in 1986. One skit featured Borstein as Matlin calling Russ Leatherman (MacFarlane) at Moviefone; another had Borstein impersonating Matlin singing Lady Gaga's 'Poker Face.'Seth MacFarlane and Marlee MatlinApparently, it's open season on people with disabilities in TV comedy land.

In February, 'Saturday Night Live''s Fred Armisen did an unflattering spoof of New York governor David Paterson, who is legally blind. The skit was roundly criticized for being insensitive.

Last night, Fox one-upped 'SNL' with the controversial variety special 'Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show.' During the show, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein performed various routines mocking the speaking voice of deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who won an Oscar for 'Children of a Lesser God' in 1986. One skit featured Borstein as Matlin calling Russ Leatherman (MacFarlane) at Moviefone; another had Borstein impersonating Matlin singing Lady Gaga's 'Poker Face.'

Matlin herself got in on the act when she walked on stage in the middle of 'Poker Face.' She then proceeded to make fat jokes at the expense Borstein.

The whole exercise struck us as being in extremely poor taste, frighteningly unoriginal and just plain not funny. Normally, we love it when 'Family Guy' pushes the envelope. But in this case, it all fell on, well, deaf ears. Sure, having Matlin poke fun at herself lessened the blow a bit. But to have her then attack Borstein's weight felt counter-intuitive, if anything. The show -- or, at the very least, Matlin -- should have known better.

Watch the video for yourself, then tell us: Did you think the skit was offensive? Or was it funny?


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