(Credit: Manchester International Festival)

How David Lynch stole Christmas in 'Family Guy'

David Lynch is celebrated for his unique and distinctive filmmaking style which is in equal parts bizarre, surreal, horrifying and humorous at the same time. Celebrated for his 1977 masterpiece Eraserhead which was followed by a string of equally outlandish, unsettling and thought-provoking films, Lynch has gained a cult following of his own. The 74 ye-year-old received an Honorary Award at the Academy in 2019 and has also managed to gain a massive fan following with the television drama Twin Peaks.

Seth MacFarlane’s sit-com, Family Guy, revolves around the highly problematic man-child Peter Griffin and his dysfunctional set of family and friends who find themselves embroiled in uproariously funny scenarios. While the jokes are dark and twisted poking fun at religious, racial and other such sensitive topics, it is a highly popular show that has offended many as well as won several hearts. 

While he started Family Guy in 1999, Seth MacFarlane started another follow-up series in 2009 named The Cleveland Show which ran for only four seasons. It focused on peter Griffin’s Black friend, the nice everyman Cleveland Brown and his misadventures. 

Lynch, who is no alien to making cameos, having made numerous cameos peppering his films like Easter eggs, was a recurrent character in The Cleveland Show. He appeared as Gus, the owner of a bar, The Broken Stool, which Cleveland frequents along with his friends. Gus has a seemingly devious side which he masks with amicability and friendliness while chatting with Cleveland and friends. It is eventually revealed that this eerie Gus has a room filled with skulls and a guillotine, and has been serving human meat-sandwiches. Lynch is perfectly eerie, bringing in a proper balance of macabre and hilarity in this character. 

However, on December 11, 2016, David Lynch made an appearance as himself on the 9th season of Family Guy in an episode titled ‘How the Griffin Stole Christmas’. The clip shows the Griffins watching a television programme titled ‘How David Lynch Stole Christmas’. Previously, a subtle reference had been made to his classic Eraserhead, when peter shuffles through a bunch of VHS tapes till he comes across this film. He says, “this will be good for when I never want to sleep again”, alluding to the horrifying elements in the film. 

In this episode, however, in a classic Lynchian fashion, David Lynch himself enters through the chimney of a room where a little blonde boy stands next to a well-decorated Christmas tree. He greets the boy while presenting a gift which leaves the boy horrified and traumatised, to say the least. Lynch gives him “a present. It’s a thumb”. He urges the boy to not look away and “let the fears wash over you”. When the little boy says he does not understand, lynch talks about how that “is the whole point”. He goes on to make a bizarre request to the boy: “In the future please leave out a plate of black coffee for me. Also in the past”. 

The scene makes a subtle reference to Twin Peaks with the clever and deliberate placement of a photo frame comprising a pair of mountains and a log in the background. Despite making a brief 30-second appearance, Lynch manages to convey his unusual demeanour and highly creative and different personality through the screen. Here’s to us hoping for more such wonderfully weird cameos in the future from the king of surrealism himself!