I have to admit, that I don’t really have much of a plan for this month as far as reviewing speculative fiction stuff is concerned. Still, like my review of Gravity Falls, last week, American Dad is pretty much a speculative fiction TV show.
Of course, most would not classify it as that. For those who don’t know, American Dad is from Seth MacFarlane’s animation company, the man who gave the world Family Guy. I don’t think I really need to explain Family Guy, other than it is a not a family-friendly cartoon that has been airing on Fox for almost twenty years, even though it was cancelled once. Family Guy was such a huge hit that I’m guessing they probably green-lit American Dad without even watching a pilot episode.
I will have to say that Seth MacFarlane would probably be a guilty pleasure of mine. There are time where his shows come off very good, and show a side of America that we don’t necessarily like to see. I will have to say that I have stopped watching his shows because his humor is often more violent and sexual then I really want to see.
However, when Seth MacFarlane is funny, he is very funny. Just watch some of the Star Wars parodies if you don’t believe me. American Dad was really the show that should have come first, because it feels less like a bawdier version of The Simpsons and more its original material.
The premise of American Dad is almost the same as Family Guy, but the main difference is that the father figure, Stan Smith, is more intelligent and stable, working at the CIA. In fact, this is a good time to say how much I can’t stand how Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin are fathers that are as unintelligent as they are uncaring of their family.
This is not to say that Stan Smith can come off as uncaring and unintelligent, but he is that way for different reasons. I mentioned before how I occasionally stop watching Seth MacFarlane because he is often too bawdy, but I honestly think Christian people should watch American Dad. Why do I feel that? Because American Dad often focuses on the mistakes that conservative people often make.
It is also a speculative fiction show, as two of the characters are completely unrealistic. Granted, a lot of Seth MacFarlane’s shows rely on just strange things happening for the sake of comedy, but American Dad has a good reason for it. With Stan being in the CIA, he has access to technology that is straight out of science fiction. For example, his goldfish Klaus has the mind of an East German skier.
Of course, the strangest thing of the show is they have an alien living with them. This would be Roger, who is apparently the extra-terrestrial who crash-landed at Roswell. It is odd that not much is really know about Roger and his origins, but his current character is like a more selfish version of Alf, but can somehow blend in with people thanks to his myriad disguises.
As far as some of the other characters are concerned, most of them are pretty stock. The wife Francine is a homemaker, but she is rather unintelligent. Hayley the daughter is free-spirited flower-child who has liberal views that contrast her father’s conservative ones. Steve, Stan’s son, is your typical nerdy adolescent character.
One of the reasons why I like American Dad is its willingness to take risks. Some of the my favorite episodes are just out there. For example, there is one called “Rapture’s Delight” which takes place during the Rapture, and yes, it has a bad view of the Rapture as well as Jesus and the Antichrist. If you’re willing to accept that, the action is good and the moral about staying with the one that you love works. This is just one of the show’s irreverent Christmas specials.
Then there is “Steve and Snot’s Test-Tubular Adventure”, which has such a terrific premise. The show involves Steve and his best friend Snot cloning two girls in order to take them to a dance. What they don’t know is they have to raise them from babies for a week. At that point, they become fathers, and the idea of using these girls to lose their virginity take on an odd turn. I’m not certain if this episode is support abstinence, but it does give an interesting view of premarital sex that most shows don’t try.
Then there is a question of whether shows should go to the places where American Dad goes. There is one episode known as “The American Dad After-School Special” which talks about anorexia, and it goes in just odd places. It even has a major twist ending to it that I never saw coming.
And then there is the episode “Tearjerker”, which is just a fun parody of seventies James Bond films. I can’t help but think that MacFarlane should just stick to straight up parodies.
In short, American Dad does present its audiences with problems that we as Americans are ignoring. Occasionally, it can get preachy, but seems to satirize itself when it does.