An Evening With American Dad!
September 26, 2011 3:25 PM   Subscribe

An Evening With American Dad! The cast and writing staff of American Dad! sits down at the Paley Center for an hour to discuss the creative process behind the show, the casting process, why Critters sucks, if we'll ever see Roger's home planet, how the recent "Hot Water" episode about a killer hot tub was originally intended to be the series finale, and so much more.

And if an hour-long panel isn't enough, you can burn away more time at TV Tropes.
posted by Servo5678 (63 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
American Dad is pretty much the only of Fox cartoons that actually seems to be trying at all. It somehow became a very solid and played fairly straight sitcom with moments of out of nowhere perfect ( they didn't wink one during the " golden poo" arc, which would have ruined it ).
posted by The Whelk at 3:32 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as not a fan of Family Guy (I know I'm in the minority), I figured American Dad would be unfunny as well because they look like the same people worked on it or drew it, but it was surprisingly funny the couple of times I saw it.
posted by theredpen at 3:38 PM on September 26, 2011


I wish the Simpsons hadn't been abruptly canceled after the 8th season. I'm sure they could have continued their profound brilliance for many more years to come. Truly a show canceled in its prime.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:42 PM on September 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


American Dad is consistently laugh out loud, catch-you-off-guard hilarious in small bursts, frequent enough to keep me watching.

And it's better than Family Guy if for no other reason than they resist the urge to break out in fucking song every chance they get. I hate that Seth McFarlane feels this aching desire to break into song at every opportunity. It drives me nuts and it feels like 3 minutes of the show is boring filler. They gave him an Emmy early on for This House is Freaking Sweet, which wasn't great to begin with, and he's been chasing it ever since.

American Dad also NEVER does throwbacks or cutaways, with very rare exceptions.

It's also written to be considerably funnier. Steve's character is pitch-perfect, Roger-as-a-diva works most of the time, and it just hits hilarious notes all the time. Despite being voiced by Seth (Stan & Roger and others) and written by him and some of the FG crew, it's the FAR superior show.
posted by disillusioned at 3:46 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I watched the pilot of American Dad, hated it, and dismissed the show entirely for years. A friend finally convinced me to give it another chance, and it's divine. Doesn't get the respect it deserves, but hopefully the tide is turning.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:46 PM on September 26, 2011


This is great. American Dad is the best Fox cartoon since Futurama, and so far it shows no signs of letting up.

I've never been quite as big of a fan as this, but I've enjoyed the show over the years. Until last night. That hot tub episode was utterly terrible. It was just a bunch of noise that neither had a point, nor was it funny. I found it unwatchable.
posted by zachlipton at 3:52 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is anybody actually watching the linked video? Because it's basically just the whole crowd sitting around acting totally high. In an annoying way, not in a "wow, these people are brilliant" way.
posted by Gator at 3:56 PM on September 26, 2011


I wish the Simpsons hadn't been abruptly canceled after the 8th season. I'm sure they could have continued their profound brilliance for many more years to come. Truly a show canceled in its prime.

What? The Simpsons I know has always sucked since it first aired in 1995, and now it's on its 17th season.

You must be thinking of some other great cartoon, the one that Fox unfairly axed after its 6th season (Fox loves killing its good shows). It's a shame we never found out who killed the main character's boss.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:57 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I contend Family guy episodes that concentrate on Stewie and Brian beat American Dad hands down every time.
posted by Mcable at 3:58 PM on September 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Irreverence does not necessarily equal funny.

Family Guy: "the least sickening McFarlane cartoon"

To those saying it was more funny than anything fox has done of late... Bob's Burgers was way funnier.

By demographic decree I should like futurama, but I don't.

Those... are my opinions.

Oh yeah, and south park and superjail are good.
posted by nutate at 4:02 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only an evening?!?
posted by yellowbinder at 4:02 PM on September 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


American Dad is the most consistently and criminally underrated animated show on TV. Case in point: the Rapture episode. Not many series are willing to not only have a Christmas special in which the world ends, but to have an ending where it's strongly implied every episode after is part of an elaborate purgatorial afterlife granted to the main character following his death? Just fantastic.

This Sunday's episode totally could have been the series finale. I'm glad it wasn't, but it was one of the best (or at least most interesting) half hours of TV I've seen in a good long time.

I remember when this show came out and it wasn't sure what it wanted to be - Family Guy with political cutaways instead of pop culture cutaways, I guess - but somewhere around the late second/third season they dropped it and it just became their place to do weird, creative stuff they could never do with the other shows. Really, it's American Dad that makes me hold out some respect for MacFarlane.

Also, Bob's Burgers is pretty brilliant. Those two shows are the best things Fox has going.
posted by HostBryan at 4:09 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm going to have to start watching American Dad now. I guess I've always thought of it as a Family Guy ripoff and I like Family Guy but not enough to like a ripoff of it.

I will admit that my opinion of American Dad is largely formed by that Simpsons episode where there's a picture of Peter Griffin with "plagiarismo" under it, and then a picture of the dad (?) from American Dad with "plagiarismo di plagiarismo".
posted by madcaptenor at 4:16 PM on September 26, 2011


American Dad after the secondish season probably has the best case for picking up the Simpsons baton if only cause it's so old fashioned and sitcomish and capable of legit sweet moments.
posted by The Whelk at 4:21 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


They keep playing commercials for Latisse of all things, during this stupid video. Who do they think the audience is?
posted by Gator at 4:32 PM on September 26, 2011


For me, it's a toss-up between American Dad and The Cleveland Show in the race for best Seth MacFarlane cartoon. (Bob's Burgers is the obvious winner overall.)

(The line last night when Cleveland's wife, Donna, pointed out that none of the wives on Fox cartoons have any friends: YES!)

Here's hoping last night's unfortunate hot tub edition of American Dad was just an anomalous misstep. Cleveland is way ahead this season.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:32 PM on September 26, 2011


Mcable wrote: I contend Family guy episodes that concentrate on Stewie and Brian beat American Dad hands down every time

When they're not doing musicals, Family Guy beats American Dad hands down (almost) every time. American Dad's best feature is Patrick Stewart. The Cleveland Show, on the other hand, is just awful. I dare say it was the biggest TV disappointment I've had in the past 10 years.
posted by wierdo at 4:39 PM on September 26, 2011


American Dad's best feature is Patrick Stewart.

Funny you'd say that, as he's one of the show's most static characters, which is especially odd in a show like American Dad, which doesn't run on a template. I think that's what eventually got me bored with Family Guy. I like shows to be dynamic, and Family Guy seems to lean a little too heavily on their standard MOs.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:44 PM on September 26, 2011


Okay, I just watched the whole video, so the rest of you don't have to, NOT THAT YOU WERE GOING TO ANYWAY. It was stupid the whole way through. You're welcome.
posted by Gator at 4:45 PM on September 26, 2011


Not the character. The voice. Patrick Stewart can make anything awesome. I wanted to like American Dad, and I do indeed like some of the episodes. But most of them are just meh. I like the cutaways in Family Guy, at least most of the time. Yeah, it's formulaic, but I'm watching the show because it makes me laugh, not because I care about character development.

If I wanted that, I'd be watching Breaking Bad or something.

It's entirely possible I'd like it more if I watched it more regularly, but I don't watch any TV regularly, so that's pretty much right out.
posted by wierdo at 4:55 PM on September 26, 2011


(The line last night when Cleveland's wife, Donna, pointed out that none of the wives on Fox cartoons have any friends: YES!)

But that was bullshit. It is true that Marge Simpson doesn't have friends (unless you count her sisters). But Lois is friends with Joe's wife, Bonnie. And Francine is friends with her neighbor, Linda. But I loved that line anyway when Donna or Cleveland said "who?" when the other said Francine.
posted by birdherder at 4:55 PM on September 26, 2011


Okay, I just watched the whole video, so the rest of you don't have to, NOT THAT YOU WERE GOING TO ANYWAY. It was stupid the whole way through. You're welcome.

It had its moments but was off the rails for a lot of it. I blame Hardwick for some of it. Mike Barker and Seth Macfarlane were hysterical at times. The rest of the time, I wanted to close the window.
posted by birdherder at 5:14 PM on September 26, 2011


But that was bullshit. It is true that Marge Simpson doesn't have friends (unless you count her sisters). But Lois is friends with Joe's wife, Bonnie. And Francine is friends with her neighbor, Linda.

Wow, one each! And they're just neighbours, more than they're really friends. And they only show up once or twice a year.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:19 PM on September 26, 2011


It is true that Marge Simpson doesn't have friends (unless you count her sisters).

I've always held up the idea that Marge is kind of socially awkward and has deep nerdy tendencies and one of the reasons she likes Homer so much is that he is big loud and gregarious while she's more shy and quiet, it explains away these qualities showing up in her equally nerdy and smart but much more forceful and out-spoken daughter.
posted by The Whelk at 5:28 PM on September 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


The Whelk - I think there's enough evidence to bear that out. She just doesn't gel with most of her peers, which is why when she does develop a true friendship it's more meaningful.

Speaking of which, where has Ruth Powers been?
posted by HostBryan at 5:30 PM on September 26, 2011


Ruth Powers would have been such a good addition if they stuck with it...grrr..
posted by The Whelk at 5:36 PM on September 26, 2011


Is anybody actually watching the linked video?

Certainly not anybody from outside the USA ...

Sorry, currently our video library can only be watched from within the United States

... given the title of the cartoon that's fitting somehow.
posted by southof40 at 5:38 PM on September 26, 2011


I'm actualy kind of surprised they never did any exploration of Marge's family, seems like a natural outlet for "well what do we talk about this week?" We know her stoic mother is alive and her sisters basically tormented her and she was The Cinderella (home shoe repair course) and she was overachieving french student with a painting hobby in high school but that's about it.

Oh and she sleeps in the nude. That's always been my favorite little character detail.
posted by The Whelk at 5:39 PM on September 26, 2011


Not the character. The voice. Patrick Stewart can make anything awesome.

And in honour of this momentous occasion - we're having ribs.
posted by gompa at 5:47 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw everything.
posted by The Whelk at 5:56 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


*tries to think of a memorable Stewart line from Oblivion, fails*
posted by yellowbinder at 6:10 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I gave American Dad a good season of a chance, but I'm never watching a Seth Macfarlane vehicle of any kind ever again. Easy awful jokes abound.
posted by graventy at 6:13 PM on September 26, 2011


Oh and she sleeps in the nude. That's always been my favorite little character detail.

Also: Childhood crush on Ringo. Because she just can't bring herself to expect the best, even in her dreams.
posted by gompa at 6:21 PM on September 26, 2011


Her easy bake oven story tells you everything you need to know about her life.
posted by The Whelk at 6:22 PM on September 26, 2011


Just chiming in to add another vote for American Dad.
I always thought the Rapture episode would have been a good series finale.

Cripes, I can't watch Family Guy anymore - the first few seasons were great - the singing and dancing, the Stewie and Brian Go to ..., the Star Wars ones, the one where Stewie and Brian were locked in a bank valut.

But lately, all the characters in that series have taken on a more jerkish tone. They're all jerks. And they're trying to be more about conversation than plot.

And the race jokes about minorities and Jewish people? Crikey, enough already. It's beyond disgusting now.

The Cleveland show seems to be the most sincere of the lot. Or maybe the least insincere.

Am currently watching Bender's Big Score - now that's great writing!
posted by bitteroldman at 6:27 PM on September 26, 2011


Not the character. The voice. Patrick Stewart can make anything awesome.

Those sounds could be imitated!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:31 PM on September 26, 2011


american dad is really bad. it is not good.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:33 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bob's Burgers is so amazingly good. It can't last very long.
posted by Splunge at 6:36 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn hulu. Does anyone have a link the talk that actually works?
posted by Kevin Street at 8:06 PM on September 26, 2011


Barring a proxy, there's always this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:18 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm actualy kind of surprised they never did any exploration of Marge's family

Well, it's not as there's been nothing. We've seen plenty of Patty and Selma episodes. Patty's come out and Homer nearly performed her wedding ceremony (though there was no follow-through; that episode ended pretty disappointingly) and at last check, the writers finished trying to hook Selma up with as many random characters as possible. Though the Troy McClure episode was genius and always will be.

Grandpa Simpson nearly married Marge's mom ("MIS-SUS BOO-VIE-AAAAAAAAY!!!!") and ended up taking off with her on a bus to a Simon & Garfunkel tune. And forget Snowball II or Santa's Little Helper; Jub-Jub the iguana is the greatest and most underrated of all the Simpsons pets.

And we got plenty of glimpses into Marge's younger life with the painting and Artie Ziff taking her to the prom and all, but ... now that I look at it, it seems that her family really only does show up if Homer needs to be insulted or another character needs to fall in love with the most incongruous choice of people.

But at least they're allowed some character development while they're around.

(I admit I may need to give American Dad a try, since I watched a few episodes but tuned out when it seemed to me like it was a domestic sitcom which conveniently also featured a talking animal, a very out-of-place talking character, and an actor with a stately voice playing a twisted and strange character. Though I do think Patrick Stewart and Adam West are very funny in those roles.)
posted by Spatch at 8:20 PM on September 26, 2011


The general view at Televisionwithoutpity, right or wrong, is that Seth doesn't do much writing work with American Dad.

Lately, Family Guy and I drifted apart. I'll watch a Simpsons from time to time but it doesn't interest me much any more. American Dad has been really enjoyable (with some amazing episodes, like the Vietnam one) and then there's Bob's Burgers, one of the few shows that makes even my wife laugh out loud.
posted by drezdn at 9:20 PM on September 26, 2011


Wow, one each! And they're just neighbours, more than they're really friends. And they only show up once or twice a year.

Homer doesn't actually seem to have friends either, although he does have a social life. Lenny & Carl are coworkers he sees mostly at work, work-related functions, and out of necessity for plot's sake. Barney is a lush at the local pub he knew from high school. Moe is his bartender. It's a show about the family, the other characters are all either foils or comic relief. Part of the joke with the Simpsons is that Homer is kind of a neglectful boor, and leaves Marge to do all of the work and have no life of her own. It's kind of central to what the Simpsons parodies.

Peter Griffin has friends while Lois doesn't seem to, but I don't know if Stan does. I can't think of any.
posted by Hoopo at 10:10 PM on September 26, 2011


American Dad does bother to point out that Stan has no friends cause Stan is an uptight werido.

I think Homer thinks he has has a lot of friends, but he's always running headfirst into any social group that will have him.
posted by The Whelk at 10:15 PM on September 26, 2011


They're all jerks. And they're trying to be more about conversation than plot.

Okay, who is watching Family Guy for the PLOT. Seriously. People shit all over Family Guy because they say "the story lines" are weak, and ever since that South Park episode came out a few years ago making fun of its disjointed joke-telling style it seems like every college fuck is an arts critic. "Ohhh, Family Guy sucks dude, it doesn't even have a plot!" You were watching Family Guy for a fucking plot and "character development", really?
posted by windbox at 4:41 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is true that Marge Simpson doesn't have friends

I'm not going to dismiss the overall point, because it's totally valid that on all of the Fox cartoons the male lead has a stable of friends and the wife is just, well, "the wife," but as far as the Simpsons goes I thought the idea that Marge is an isolated shut-in with an ironic obsession with 50's style housewifing is a deliberate part of her character. In a way, it's sort of a cheat for the writers, in that having a character who is deliberately uninteresting allows that episode-per-season of that character trying to be an interesting person. There's also supposed to be somewhat of a dark humor to Marge's predicament- it's made quite clear throughout the run of the series that her life would have been, by a multitude of different criteria, better had she never met Homer.

ever since that South Park episode came out a few years ago making fun of its disjointed joke-telling style it seems like every college fuck is an arts critic.

Welcome to hipsterism. They're not drinking PBR for the flavor either.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:50 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love all of the Fox cartoons (well, I sort of just tolerate the Simpsons now, though there are moments of goodness once or twice a season these days, and the movie was awesome). I think the Cleveland show is probably one of the most underrated of the bunch, and also the dirtiest. Holy shit does that show ever get away with some awesome dirty jokes (the episode with Cleveland's dad hooking up with "Auntie Momma", a crossdressing uncle/aunt, is one that stands out in particular). It started out feeling like a rejected sitcom from BET, but it has really found its legs IMO.
posted by antifuse at 7:13 AM on September 27, 2011


Simpsons writers and producers have said they didn't like Marge's mother so they phased her out like they've done with other characters.

Remember there wasn't much said about Homer's mother for years.

Here's a fun fact: Marge doesn't have a single line in the Krusty Gets Cancelled episode.

Jesus, I am a nerd.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:18 AM on September 27, 2011


All the Seth MacFarlane shows seem like they're flailing lately. I think it's a little too much to expect that every week like clockwork, three different shows from the same farm of animators supporting an entire block of prime time are all going to be consistently great, and they are all starting to fray at the edges -- as most any sitcom does after six or seven seasons. (Well, in the case of "Cleveland," after two seasons. It's sort of the "Charles in Charge" of the bunch.)

The legendary "Simpsons" that everyone is longingly referring to here is certainly not the current godawful nightmare appendage that hangs off the MacFarlane shows like an orphaned relic. If any show needs to be taken off life support, it's "The Simpsons."

MacFarlane shilling his big-band album every commercial break this past weekend was maybe the Fonzie jumps the shark moment of the "Animation Domination" era.

"Bob's Burgers" -- I can appreciate the idea, and some of the bits are amusing, but you really have to wade through a lot of obnoxious cacophony to get to them and it just ain't worth it.

disillusioned: And it's better than Family Guy if for no other reason than they resist the urge to break out in fucking song every chance they get. I hate that Seth McFarlane feels this aching desire to break into song at every opportunity. It drives me nuts and it feels like 3 minutes of the show is boring filler.

Sometimes the musical interludes are the only saving grace of some of the crappier episodes of "Family Guy." In any case, if you think that only three minutes of any given "Family Guy" episode lately are boring filler (not to mention any "American Dad" episode), you're watching a different show than I am. There's way too little Brian and Stewie anymore and way too much Peter, and a little of him goes a long way.

windbox: "Ohhh, Family Guy sucks dude, it doesn't even have a plot!" You were watching Family Guy for a fucking plot and "character development", really?

You have a point, but MacFarlane has actually taken a swing at a pretense of character development with some episodes of "Family Guy" and "American Dad." Not that there are ever really episode-to-episode story arcs that ever really go anywhere, but you are supposed to care about the characters -- some of them, anyway.
posted by blucevalo at 7:23 AM on September 27, 2011


but you are supposed to care about the characters

Really? Says who? I take Family Guy for what it is - a series of loosely strung together "bits". It may as well be a cartoon sketch show. People complaining that there's no substance to Family Guy other than it's jokes is like complaining about how there's no character development on "Robot Chicken" on Adult Swim.
posted by windbox at 7:40 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, who is watching Family Guy for the PLOT. Seriously. People shit all over Family Guy because they say "the story lines" are weak, and ever since that South Park episode came out a few years ago making fun of its disjointed joke-telling style it seems like every college fuck is an arts critic. "Ohhh, Family Guy sucks dude, it doesn't even have a plot!" You were watching Family Guy for a fucking plot and "character development", really?

I can't tell you how many Family Guy fans I know rage about this one episode of South Park. Which is a shame, because now anyone who's isn't down with Family Guy's brand of comedy is written off as indoctrinated by South Park. I haven't seen the episode in question (actually haven't followed South Park for a long time now) but I do think it's forgivable to grow bored with a show with static characters and no story. Not everyone can keep the mechanism of random nonsequitors fresh and interesting over a period of years.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:43 AM on September 27, 2011


American Dad is more surprisingly good than actually good. I mean it's fine. It is about as good as recent Simpsons. Except instead of getting compared to The Simpsons in its prime it gets compared to Family Guy after it wore out its welcome. When you are compared to later seasons of Family Guy you get points for things like coherence and not being willfully obnoxious.
posted by I Foody at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2011


Archer is obviously the best animated comedy currently on television. China IL seems very promising. South Park is amazingly consistent considering how long it's been around.
posted by I Foody at 8:08 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Archer is, in fact, brilliant but it's barely an animated show. You could do the whole thing as a radio drama without missing much.
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Archer is obviously the best animated comedy currently on television.

I... *shakes head sadly* prepare the Death's Head Panoply.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:36 AM on September 27, 2011


Really? Says who?

Hell, I don't know. Says MacFarlane? In between asking you to buy his stupid album?
posted by blucevalo at 10:12 AM on September 27, 2011


I keep seeing all these comments that keep correlating 'American Dad' with 'good' and 'funny', and it's seriously starting to weird me out.

Oh yeah, and south park and superjail are good.
posted by nutate at 4:02 PM on September 26


Oops, you said Superjail was good - that pushes it beyond believable and ruins the joke. Now I know this is a hoax thread.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2011


Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, Archer. I would like an Archer-themed pinball machine. That would be freakin' awesome. Hop to it, Stern!
posted by wierdo at 2:17 PM on September 27, 2011


American Dad and Archer are on my list of favorite shows, we actually watch the AD repeats every night on Adult Swim, even though we’ve seen them several times. I watch the Simpsons, Cleveland, and Bob’s Burgers, all entertaining, but I’d be fine never watching Family Guy again.

I do find it weird that 90% of my TV watching these days is animated.
posted by bongo_x at 3:19 PM on September 27, 2011


And it's better than Family Guy if for no other reason than they resist the urge to break out in fucking song every chance they get. I hate that Seth McFarlane feels this aching desire to break into song at every opportunity. It drives me nuts and it feels like 3 minutes of the show is boring filler.

Maybe I'm the only one, but song and dance numbers are my favorite thing about Family Guy, and the lack of them keeps me from giving a damn about American Dad.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:16 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do find it weird that 90% of my TV watching these days is animated.

You were sucked into a Dire Straits video, huh? Me too. Been animated ever since.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:22 AM on September 28, 2011


I finally watched the Hot Tub episode. Some of the songs were ok (Steve's "Daddy's Gone Away" or whatever it was called was pretty awesome), but I have to admit that the song and dance episodes are not my favourite episodes in the MacFarlane shows. But if they had decided to end the series on that episode, I would have been TOTALLY fine with that :)
posted by antifuse at 7:01 AM on September 28, 2011


Apropos of absolutely nothing... I always get hungry for a hamburger when I watch Bob's Burgers. It's really weird. I picture his burgers as being exactly like the burgers from Five Guys. Invariably well done, but very tasty. Greasy, with all of the condiments that you want. And it drives me crazy, because I could run out to a Five Guys, but I don't eat all that much meat. A couple of times a month maybe.

Perhaps I'll get Five Guys and make it home in time to watch Bob's Burgers and eat at the same time. Maybe I'll have some kind of taste orgasm. Or maybe I'll just drop dead.
posted by Splunge at 1:31 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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