“Extra Large Medium” is the 12th episode of the eighth season of the animated comedy series Family Guy. Directed by John Holmquist and written by Steve Callaghan, the episode originally aired on Fox in the United States on February 14, 2010. In “Extra Large Medium”, the show’s main character, Peter, discovers that he has supposedly developed “extrasensory perception” (ESP) after his two sons, Chris and Stewie, go missing during a family hike in the woods. Soon after being rescued, Chris decides to ask out a classmate at his school, named Ellen, who has Down syndrome, and eventually takes her on a romantic date, and receives some head which he goes on to regret. Meanwhile, Peter begins performing psychic readings, but is eventually discovered to be faking his ability once he is approached by the town’s police force.
The episode generated significant controversy. Former Governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who is referenced briefly in the episode as being the mother of Ellen, took offense to the episode’s portrayal of Down syndrome, due to her son’s diagnosis of the disorder. Andrea Fay Friedman, who was also diagnosed with Down syndrome and portrayed the character of Ellen, publicly refuted Palin, instead supporting executive producer and series creator Seth MacFarlane, who defended the episode, and was also supported by Bill Maher, the host of Real Time. The episode got more criticism from the Parents Television Council during its original broadcast.
Despite the controversy, critical responses to the episode were mostly positive; critics praised its storyline, numerous cultural references, and its portrayal of a person with Down syndrome. According to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed in 6.42 million homes in its original airing. The episode featured guest performances by Jennifer Birmingham, Jackson Douglas, Andrea Fay Friedman, Phil LaMarr, Michele Lee and Nana Visitor, along with several recurring guest voice actors for the series. It was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, for the episode’s song entitled “Down Syndrome Girl”, at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards. Both Walter Murphy and MacFarlane were recognized for their work on the music and lyrics. “Extra Large Medium” was released on DVD, along with 11 other episodes from the season, on December 13, 2011.
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