Listen, I get it. It’s kinda easy to overlook American Dad. When you think of adult animation, the mind immediately goes to the big dog cartoons – Bob’s Burgers. Archer. The Simpsons.
But American Dad really has a few things that not many other adult cartoons have these days. It’s no carbon copy of any other show out there.
American Dad offers a surrealist kinda humour that I’ve not really seen elsewhere. Even just the premise is absurd – American conservative CIA agent Stan Smith‘s family includes a sarcastic space alien called Roger, and a goldfish named Klaus, who of course speaks German.
Even though it is certifiably silly, American Dad has genuine heart to it, and often the episodes share a lesson learned by the characters.
It’s got humour, it’s got feeling, it’s got an alien named Roger. What more could you ask for?
To celebrate season 17 of American Dad, now streaming on Disney+, let me introduce you to the best episodes of the totally underrated series so far.
Old Stan On The Mountain, S8 E11
In this ep, Stan lacks respect for elderly people – but soon regrets it after being placed under a Freaky Friday-esque curse where he is put into an old man’s body. I like this ep because it demonstrates a strong moral message, all wrapped up in a weird and hilarious package. Stan really learns his lesson – and it’s one I think we should all be reminded of every now and again.
Blood Crieth Unto Heaven, S9 E10
This one’s a doozy, and a great example of that absurdity I was talking about earlier. Patrick Stewart stars as his real-life (i.e. non-animated) self, presenting a ‘lost’ play written for American Dad. The actual play that follows within the episode is a parody of Tracy Lett‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County.
I’ve never seen anything quite like this episode of American Dad. It’s a pretty fascinating stylistic experiment and the humour is razor-sharp. One for adult animation aficionados for sure.
The Vacation Goo, S4 E01
There’s a genuinely disturbing premise in this ep – in lieu of IRL vacations, Stan suspends his family in virtual reality goo chambers that simulate all of their holidays. Their memories of every trip they’ve ever taken have been nothing but a CIA fabrication. Freaky!
I love this ep simply because the vacation goo chamber is honestly something I would like to try please. Let me sunbathe on a beach in Maui even if it’s only a total simulation!
Independent Movie, S10 E06
American Dad is just so spot on when it comes to parodies. Independent Movie is a perfectly silly yet heartfelt reflection of indie movies and their classic coming-of-age tropes. Stan’s son Steve goes on a road trip with his mates for his friend Snot’s dad’s funeral, and along the way the gang confront their emotions in surprisingly beautiful ways. This ep also features a cameo from indie icon Zooey Deschanel.
The Two Hundred, S12 E10
I know the two hundredth episode of a series seems like a silly place to start, but trust me on this. The Two Hundred gathers up everything brilliant about American Dad and delivers it in the most perfect 20-minute package.
For this milestone ep, the American Dad universe becomes a post-apocalyptic wasteland and Stan is wandering, looking for his family. The show’s theme song begins, but malfunctions and shorts out. I don’t want to spoil this one, but all you have to know is that it’s eerie, and it’s a true spectacle.
So there you have it – the best eps of this iconic series, the perfect starter pack for your incoming American Dad obsession. Every episode of the show is on Disney+ right now – so what’re you waiting for? Get goin’!