“American Dad! vs Family Guy: which is better?” It's a debate that's frankly not held enough. Many have preconceptions about American Dad! couched in their established bias towards Family Guy, and thus won’t even entertain the question. Well, it’s time to cast off that prejudice. Today, we're going to learn why American Dad! is the best.
Most people recognize that each show has its star: Roger and Stewie, respectively. But too often, the rest of the casts are ignored. Peter has grown into a funny character over time, but there really aren’t any other characters on Family Guy who carry much weight. That is most definitely not the case on American Dad!. There are few (if any) lame characters on the show. Roger alone offers more funny personas than the entire cast of Family Guy.
That’s but a taste of what’s to come. Let’s take a News Glance with Genevieve Vavance at the reasons American Dad! is better than Family Guy.
The Ensemble Works Better Together
The character humor in Family Guy is driven by individuals: Peter is funny, Stewie is funny... end of list. But their humor isn't really interactive. Sure, Brian and Stewie pair off, but it's not really their companionship that generates the humor (at least, not in most cases). It's the "inherent" humor of a talking dog hanging out with a talking baby.
However, the interactions of all the characters in American Dad! is its strength, and it's not just Wheels and the Legman. The Smith family have a number of zany adventures together, like the Season 3 episode, "The Vacation Goo," in which the entire episode revolves around the familial relationship, making for dynamic interplay between all of the main cast. Everyone feels real, even if they're ridiculous, and the history of their relationships inform the comedy.
American Dad! Often Has A Moral
Whether you care or not, episodes of American Dad! often have a moral unerpinning that gives the story purpose. It doesn't hit you over the head with it, and it's still entirely possible to enjoy an episode solely for the razor sharp humor, but the fundamental narrative of self-improvement is always there.
Whether it be Stan learning a valuable lesson about his shortcomings as a father or husband, or Hayley coming to better understand her mother, or Steve's many coming of age tales, there's always a point. That's rarely the case in Family Guy. Most episodes are just driven by a hollow plot, with no larger meaning. That's not inherently bad for an adult cartoon, but American Dad! does offer an added level of depth.
Family Guy Became Predictable And Formulaic, American Dad! Continues To Innovate
Family Guy almost always plays out the same. Some outlandish shenanigans ensue, and they somehow lead to a tangentially related A-plot. For example, in "Airport '07," Peter siphons gas out of Quagmire's plane to make his pickup fly truck, causing Quagmire to get fired. The rest of the episode revolves around the guys trying to win Quagmire's job back.
While American Dad! occasionally is structured this way, it's also never afraid to experiment structurally and formally. And in fact, there are full episodes that seem to exist in alternate realities, like "Rapture's Delight," which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and utilizes thematic elements reminiscent of a graphic novel. It's unique and wholly different, but still engaging and, most importantly, funny. That's what happens when you have well-rounded characters that serve as more than joke machines.
Most cartoons go through those weird, early stages where the animation is a little off, and the jokes aren't quite right. Of course, that only becomes apparent in retrospect, once the show hits its stride. For Family Guy, that is somewhere in the neighborhood of Season 5, if not as late as Season 8. American Dad! had it figured out by Season 3.
The early seasons almost feel like completely separate shows from what they evolved into. In the early stages of Family Guy, Stewie was the only funny one, mostly because his drive for world domination was unique and novel. Fortunately, he became a more dynamic character before that got stale, and Peter has stepped up his comedy game (although he's really the only other funny one).
In American Dad!, Stan was just sort of weird and frantic in the beginning, but Steve and Francine were already developing, as was Roger. Stan came along shortly thereafter, and is now one of the funniest characters. The humor in American Dad! isn't really about the insane situations the characters find themselves in, but rather the fact that it's these characters experiencing it.