“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.
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.
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.
Francine and Hayley add value to American Dad!, whereas Lois and Meg feel almost like props (especially Meg). Francine actually does quite a bit of heavy lifting, like in "Killer Vacation," when she gets fed up with Stan working during their getaway and helps him kill his target Goran the Mutilator, so they can get back to the vaca.
Or in "Spelling Bee My Baby," when she ruthlessly drives Steve to beat his paramour Akiko. Hayley has her moments too, like her turn as a soulful singer in Roger's Bar during "Love, American Dad Style." Plus, at least half of Roger's disguises are female and his gender fluidity is a running theme. Meanwhile, Family Guy is so aware of its problems with women, it lets audiences know they can turn out during Meg episodes.
American Dad! has some truly engaging subplots and call-back references. The recurring Golden Turd, the return of old Roger characters (especially in "The Two Hundred," where all of Roger's personas produced by the hadron collider at Langley Quantum Labs come charging into battle), and the intermittent appearance of Reggie the Koala – who was so popular he became a series regular – all serve to remind us American Dad! knows how to keep a joke going.
Family Guy has had instances of this, like Buzz Killington (who eventually disappeared), or the giant chicken (who, let's be honest, has gotten really stale), but they're less impressionable, and almost always poorly done. Really, how many times can we listen to the sound Peter makes when he skins his knee?