If you read our interviews with Scott Grimes/Wendy Schaal and Dee Bradley Baker/Rachael MacFarlane, you likely noticed an overall theme: the transition to TBS is perfect for American Dad. The cast really couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it is for their show to finally get its chance to shine. It’s easy to see why too. The promotion is off the charts and cable is a much more lenient landscape when it comes to a little crass humor. Truly, American Dad is currently entering a renaissance of popularity.
The only people who could be more excited about the change than these talented actors is easily two of the men behind the show. American Dad has been the main project for creator/executive producer Matt Weitzman and co-executive producer Brian Boyle for many years now. It’s easy to consider this show their baby. So now that American Dad is getting greater attention after 10 full seasons on Fox, things couldn’t be better for these two professionals. It is the current defining show of their carers after all. And when you consider Boyle’s experience on Friends and Weitzman’s Emmy nominated time on Family Guy, that’s saying a lot.
Boyle and Weitzman conclude our American Dad interview trilogy. Below you will find plenty of tantalizing details that they shared with a round table of interviewers at New York Comic Con. Read on for their true feelings on the transition, the guests on track for this new season, and how an American Horror Story crossover can actually work.
New season of American Dad. What can we expect?
Matt Weitzman: Just a bunch of cartoons.
Brian Boyle: Seven less episodes.
MW: (Laughs) Yeah we’re doing 15 episodes on TBS rather than the old 22 on Fox, but in terms of episode’s themselves, we’re bringing back Wheels and the Legman in Manhattan. Francine gets kidnapped and they have to find out where she went. We’re having a new Christmas episodes, a whole other version of mind-altering reality.
BB: There are three universes.
MW: That’s true! We’re doing an episode where Snot and Steve join a karate studio, it doesn’t work out with Steve, so Roger ends up training him in martial arts and Snot and Steve battle. A Chinese billionaire buys the show from Seth and takes over and promises not to change everything, but of course that may not be true. We’re doing an episode where Steve says “fuck you” to his mom for the first time, and so she doesn’t take it well. Stan and Francine go to Hollywood, and Stan meets this woman who convinces him that he’s the reincarnation of her dead husband. Stan takes it upon himself to help this woman finish this man’s movie that was the last thing that he was doing, so we explore a little bit of reincarnation.
We have some actors too. Kristin Chenoweth is coming when Steve and Hayley join a roller derby team. Actually, Haley is not that good, but Steve is incredible so in order for Haley to be on the team Steve has to pretend to be a girl.
BB: They say, “You can play if your sister will play,” and she (Hayley) says, “My sister?” and you see Steve skate by and he holds the railing, and he’s standing right next to, what you would say in lesbian terms, a “boi.” There’s a woman standing right next that looks almost identical to Steve, so Hayley gets it. It’s a fun episode. And Steve gets confused!
MW: He’s not sure what sexuality he is.
Celebrity guest appearances?
MW: Ted Danson, Kathy Bates, Uma Thurman, Carl Reiner, Mickey Rooney in his perhaps last role, get all of one line. “We’ll do the computers!” He nailed it.
How did you guys feel about the transition from Fox to TBS?
BB: I was super happy!
MW: We’re not getting cancelled, it’s so great! But it was actually a relief, at the time, but now it’s a complete blessing. A joy. They’re taking us on like Fox never embraced us. We are so lucky.
BB: Fox probably felt they needed to because they had Family Guy.
MW: As long as we had a good enough percentage of the Family Guy audience watching, they were fine with us. But now TBS is really taking the show on and pushed it unlike anything that we’ve ever seen.
BB: I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad for American Dad, really.
MW: No! I watched Family Guy, the crossover episode, and there was a thirty second spot for us on TBS, and I was like, “That’s the first time we’ve ever gotten an advertisement on Fox.” It was always that Animation Domination where it’s like, “…and a brand new American Dad!” and that was the extent of the advertising. Now, look around, there’s a gigantic poster of us at New York City Comic Con and it blows my mind.
There was a perception that, on Fox, you were the forgotten show. There was always The Simpsons or Family Guy. Is that the case, did you ever feel like that really?
MW: No…no. I never felt like that. Is my nose growing?
BB: It’s nice to fly under the radar sometimes. You don’t get as much scrutiny.
MW: That’s true. That was the benefit of not being looked at by Fox. They said “do whatever you want.” So we were able to really express our creative freedom and juices. It may have been the best thing that ever happened to us. They didn’t have an real expectations. But of course we felt like that.
BB: Then fans starting liking the show. We read the fan comments all the time, we go and see how our show gets graded every time.
MW: We’re insecure like that. It determines how good our day is. But it’s been awesome, it’s really been great. They’ve been really supportive, obviously in getting the show’s name out.
BB: In fact, one of the people that covers the show, he seems to know the show better than me, and I’ve worked on every episode as Matt has. He’ll remember little things that happened.
MW: So we have to tweak scripts in order to make it consistent with the past.
Knowing that, and knowing that you have full support for creativity, what kind of things are you trying to push now?
BB: I don’t feel like we’ve ever tried to be pushing the envelope. We’re not trying to swear on TV. We’re trying to tell real stories like saying “fuck you” to your mom. Of course, we get bleeped, but I feel like what we do is tell really good stories between our characters.
MW: We’ve never felt like we needed to push. We’ve been given a lot of creative freedom, even at Fox, to do the shows that we wanted to do. They’re never said no to us. Which is more of the same at TBS where they trust us to come up with something fun and funny that they’re gonna like and our audience is gonna like.
BB: For example, they just showed every Simpsons ever, I’m sure you guys watched some of that. I started watching that from the beginning, and the first four seasons of The Simpsons, go back to those first four years and the act breaks are sometimes dramatic and the show is amazing. I feel like, if anything, we’re trying to put more heart into it now.
MW: At times we got really out there, and this is an opportunity to pull it back and get a little more touchy-feely in some ways. Not all the way.
BB: I think if you redeem your people at the end, if you have some nice message, then all the fucking off you did is forgiven. It makes it funnier when you care.
MW: It’s always been our philosophies that you gotta invest in the characters and the story. If you have your audience invested, than everything else is gonna work itself out. The funnies will all come.
BB: Like in The Simpsons, there was an act break where Bart said he’s not going to get out of the second grade. He’s just so worried. It’s so real. You remember there isn’t a laugh at the end of every scene.
MW: There’s not going to be that many laughs in TBS. That’s going to be the new thing for TBS. It’s “TBS: Very Feely.”
Recently, Family Guy did a crossover with The Simpsons. What show would you want to see crossed over with American Dad?
BB: I want to do American Horror Story. Freak Show. American Dad Horror Story.
MW: I don’t know how that would work, but it could work. It could be frightening.
BB: I would just like to see Roger in Freak Show. That would be funny.
MW: My answer is Super Friends. If I could bring them back and somehow make that work. Who would you like us to crossover with?
Dee (Bradley Baker) mentioned The Walking Dead and Rachael (MacFarlane) mentioned Game of Thrones.
MW: We have played with Game of Thrones a little bit.
BB: Remember when they got stuck in Family Land? The map and the breakdown was supposed to be like the opening of Game of Thrones.
MW: The three kingdoms fighting each other.
I think a fun crossover would be Mad Men. Stan could find a way to work himself into Don Draper’s role.
MW: Mad Men!
BB: We often write him as if he’s sort of 50’s even though he’s younger than me now. I was younger than him when he started, and now I’m older than him. And he seems like he’s from the 50’s. Roger loved the 50’s.
MW: We should have an episode where we find out that all the family has paintings in the attic that’s keeping them their age.
American Dad airs Mondays at 9pm on TBS.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.