John, my autistic brother, and I spend a lot of time together. His favorite activity to do together is watch cartoons. One of his favorite cartoons is Fox’s primetime smash, Family Guy.
At first, I didn’t see what John saw in Family Guy. As far as I was concerned, it was silliness with no rhyme or reason. But, the more I watched Family Guy with John, I realized why he was drawn to it. Beyond its gags, flashbacks, and bright colors, Family Guy shows the Griffin family, a family that loves each other, and is there for each other, despite their faults. The family relationships that stood out to me the most, was the special brother like bond between, Stewie, the genius baby, and Brian, the family’s talking dog.
The more I watched Family Guy I saw realized that Stewie, reminded me of John. Like Stewie, John is the youngest in our family, too. They are also resilient, intelligent, and witty. Since Stewie is a baby and John has autism, they are again and again not taken seriously by others. This perception works for and against them. Being underestimated, not only drives them to work harder, but allows them to surprise even their harshest critics.
In high school, there were staff members, who thought that John was not intelligent, because of his autism. They had low expectations for him. During his sophomore year, he was given the opportunity to take the high school exit exam. No one thought he could pass it. Many non-special education students failed at their first attempt. John proved these staff members wrong, by passing the high school exam, on his first try. He scored higher than the average score, in mathematics.
As intelligent as Stewie and John are, they are also very innocent and loyal to those they love. We see the innocent side of Stewie, when he travels to England, in the hopes of living on his favorite television show Jolly Farms. Stewie’s loyalty shines through, especially when he helps his older brother, Chris, from studying together for a history test to getting Chris ready for a date. John’s innocence can be seen through his compassion for the innocent. He will questions, like “Why do some people in power hurt innocent people?”, etc. While John’s loyalty shows through the many things he has done to help me, including coming to my defense, when he feels I’m being disrespected and helping me when I’m sick.
When I told John that he reminded me of Stewie, he surprised me, by telling me, that I reminded him of Brian. At first, it didn’t feel like a compliment, being compared to an arrogant boozehound. John also pointed out, that everything I do for him, Brian does for Stewie. Brian spends a significant amount of time with Stewie. He is Stewie’s caregiver, teacher, best friend, and protector. All of these aspects of their relationship can be seen in the road trip episodes of Family Guy.
As John’s primary caregiver, I spend the most the time with him, helping him with daily activities. We also love to watch anything funny, like comedy films and stand up. I also try to expose him to anything I think may interest him. John will also come to me with his questions and concerns. I do my best to help him learn and understand the issues. We, like Brian and Stewie, also go on adventures together, from going to the movies on the bus, to attending concerts.
The moment I realized John and I were like Brian and Stewie, was when Brian died. As we watched the episode of Brian’s death, I saw the way John painfully looked at Stewie, at Brian’s funeral. Stewie was trembling, as he watched Brian, the one person he cared for the most, being lowered into his grave. John cried. After John calmed down, I asked him why he felt so bad about Brian. John revealed to me that was afraid of losing me, the one person he cares about the most. This broke my heart. I never knew John cared that much about me, until that Family Guy episode.
Stewie and Brian reflect John and me in more ways than I ever expected. Through Stewie, I’m able to better understand and appreciate John. While Brian has shown me, how much I impact John, and how much we need each other. Each of us helps the other, in good and bad times. We help each other grow, while still finding time to have fun and laugh. No matter where we are in life, John will be my Stewie, and I will be John’s Brian. The best way to describe how I care about John is what Brian once told Stewie, “You’re my best friend. And I love you.”