Network Seven has been accused of “poor taste” after showing an episode of Family Guy last night which featured jokes at the expense of actor Robin Williams, hours after he was found dead.
The episode, entitled ‘Big Man on Hippocampus’, features a cutaway centred around a joke where Robin Williams’ agent having to pretend the actor is still funny when he rings him. It is one of several episodes of the animated comedy Williams features in.
News of Williams’ death from an apparent suicide broke just after 9am AEST yesterday, 14 hours before the episode aired on 7Mate. It has since emerged Williams had been undergoing treatment for depression.
Seven has responded to requests for comment from Mumbrella this morning saying: “It was a coincidence.” Last night Ten overtook Seven for audience share after airing movie Mrs Doubtfire as a Robin Williams tribute and axing its regular shows.
The move to air the episode at 11pm last night caused ire with social media users, with dozens of people taking to Twitter to air their unease at the spot being aired so soon after the actor’s apparent suicide.
Williams features as the butt of jokes in several episodes of the Seth McFarlane comedy, including a skit where main character Peter Griffin acts as Williams’ jumping off point for his comedy, and another where he tells a town full of Robin Williams characters to “go free” and “spread your comedy”.
A transcript of the scene in last night’s episode, which is set up by the character Stewie Griffin who accuses the family of pretending he’s not there “like Robin Williams’ agent pretends he’s still funny”, reads:
Williams: Hey Phil, it’s Robin Williams.
Phil: Ahahahahahaha! That’s hilarious!
Williams: I just wanted to make sure the meeting is still on for 2:30 tommorrow otherwise I gotta go that Chinese dentist. Get it, tooth hurty?
Phil: Ah-hahaha-ha-ha! You son of a bitch! I had a mouthful of coffee! God, you are funny and that is real!
In the UK viewers were left “shocked” at the “uncanny timing” after the BBC showed the episode ‘Fatman and Robin’ of Family Guy, in which Peter Griffin fails in a suicide attempt when everything he touches turns into Robin Williams, just minutes before news of his death became public.