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Old 03-21-2017, 08:01 PM   #1
TMC
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Join Date: Jan 09, 2001
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Default American Dad’s move from flimsy satire to animated greatness in 10 steps

http://www.avclub.com/article/americ...reatnes-250315

Quote:
When the first promotional images for American Dad! emerged, they made the animated comedy look completely unnecessary. Fox had already revived co-creator Seth MacFarlane’s previous show, Family Guy, and introductions to the Smiths of Langley Falls made them look nothing more than an off-brand version of the Griffins of Quahog. There was a working husband, a stay-at-home mom, a teenage daughter, a younger teenage son, and a talking pet. That voluble goldfish, Klaus, looked like this show’s version of the Griffins’ matricidal infant, Stewie; meanwhile, the roles of “boozy roommate” and “member of the household with an oddly shaped head” went to the Smiths’ live-in extraterrestrial, Roger. With American Dad! appearing so redundant, one had to wonder how the show could possibly make any impact.

Politics initially set American Dad! apart from its predecessor. Conceived in the wake of post-9/11 panic, Stan Smith was a staunch conservative who also worked for the CIA, and his beliefs lined up with the average Bush supporter at the time. While the show’s satire was often adept, it was crucially lacking in depth and characterization. Stan was such a broad caricature of xenophobia and toxic masculinity that it was hard to root for him. Even if we’re not supposed to agree with our protagonist, we should at least be able to sympathize with him. (Call it The Archie Bunker Principle.)

So American Dad! got off to a rough start, and viewers couldn’t be blamed for abandoning it after the first few episodes. Luckily, the show was able to fix its early flaws, and it grew into one of the most clever, interesting, and reliably hilarious animated shows on television. The writers figured out how to depict Stan’s conservatism without compromising his likability, all the while fleshing out the other characters. Roger went from merely sipping wine and delivering catty one-liners to becoming the show’s most fully realized presence, as his endless array of personas meant he was essentially dozens of characters all in one.

Perhaps most importantly, this new focus on characters and absurd situations downplayed the show’s political-satire roots. Stan was still a right-winger, but the show talked about it less and less. Ironically, American Dad! finally reached its full potential when it abandoned its original concept. To illustrate that, here are 10 episodes that mark the show’s considerable growth after its rocky beginning.
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