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"Burning Down the Bayit"

Seriously, though. This episode was terrible.
This episode has everything I dislike in a Family Guy episode. It has genuine crime - arson and insurance fraud - plus a whole bunch of moralizing about the evils of insurance companies. Good grief, what are you, 80? Talking about how insurance companies cheat the little guy? Thanks for that, grandpa. Pass the mashed potatoes.
 
The derivative Jewish humor is just plain sad. Oh, Mort can't understand "buy one get one free" when it applies to his own store, but he can when it's at another store? HA HA BECAUSE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE SUPER CHEAP Y'ALL. I don't often criticize shows for lazy humor (because it's the ultimate lazy criticism). But in this case, that is definitely the laziest humor you could possibly trot out in this situation. I'm surprised they didn't make fun of Mort for having a big nose. (A joke they have run in other contexts, by the way.)
 
Family Guy prides itself on being able to offend everyone. Like South Park, it kind of gets a pass in that respect. But making fun of Jewish people for being cheap is just… well, lazy. I'm reminded of Peter's line from an earlier, better episode: "Well sure, that's great, if you wanna just come right at it like a caveman."
 
Part of the problem with this episode is that the bad guy is nowhere in evidence. The show is fighting against insurance companies, but insurance companies exist in the episode literally only in the sense that the characters talk about "insurance companies." If you want to attack insurance companies for squeezing regular citizens for money, why not have the GEICO gecko show up and act like a loan shark? Why not have Flo from Progressive do a number on Mort like Stewie did on Brian when he was trying to collect his fifty bucks?
 
Instead, "insurance companies" only exist in the episode as a vague abstraction. And this show is definitely at its worst when it's going after vague abstractions. How could it be otherwise? Any plot where the antagonist is that poorly-defined and never actually comes onto the scene is just plain going to be pedantic and crappy and boring and shrill. 
 
Anyway, it wasn't all bad. I did really like Mort's complaint letter to the Ritz cracker company. "I don't pay for your crackers with broken quarters" is a line that's still making me smile.
 
Seriously, though. This episode was terrible. Also, I expect better from Joe, just sayin'.