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6 Shows like American Dad: This Side of Normal

James Thomas itcherAfter making waves with the witty and ultimately satirical insanity that is ‘Family Guy’ I was not surprised with the Fox network gave Seth MacFarlane a shot at yet another animated show. The patriotic result was ‘American Dad’… ~ James Thomas

TV shows like ‘American Dad’ offers viewers a chance to laugh at the way jingoistic uber-patriots see their country and some of the stranger sides of American life, which as an American, I can appreciate. If you are like me, and like satirical animation check out ‘Family Guy,’ ‘Cleveland Show’, and ‘Bobs Burgers.’

Mr. America

The show revolves around the world most patriotic American spy Stan Smith, and his “normal” family.

The Smiths from ‘American Dad’ are like something out CIA fever dream. A wife with a history of drug trafficking and thrill-shoplifting, a son who is stuck in the 90’s, too dumb to be a nerd too weak to be a jock, a daughter who smokes more marijuana than the state of California.

Not forgetting a fish with the brain of German Olympian, and an alien best friend who Stan has been hiding in his attic for decades.

The narrative of ‘America Dad’ is a strange blend of tangents and sight gags that are an example of what happens when Seth MacFarlane stops caring.


Shows Similar to ‘American Dad’…

‘Sealab 2021’ (Adult Swim, 2000-2005)

As one of the strangest shows on television, you can see how much ‘Sealab 2021’ has in common with shows like ‘American Dad’ just from watching the introduction. It starts with a fairly serious premise of undersea exploration that quickly turns all-out crazy thanks to the presence of characters like Captain Murphy.

The Captain is responsible for the destruction of the Sealab facility every episode. Yeah, that’s right, they blow the thing up each time, and it’s right back the following week like some nightmarish ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario.

I thought the whole production might be just some fever dream I had after falling to sleep drunk while watching too many cartoons… Apparently not, it’s real!

Similarity Match: 90%
‘Sealab 2021’ is the kind of show you suggest to a friend when they want something a bit weirder than ‘American Dad’. Still the shows do play off familiar series on television and turn thing on its head.

‘The Cleveland Show’ (Fox, 2009-2013)

As a spin-off of ‘Family Guy’, I was expecting to ‘The Cleveland Show’ to be a bit less funny than a TV series like ‘American Dad’. But I was pleasantly surprised by how they made secondary character Cleveland Brown interesting.

They took a character that was a caricature of a black man, voiced by a white man, and made him funny all on his own.

The show added three new characters – Donna Tubbs, Roberta Tubbs, and my favorite character, Rallo Tubbs. This change made the show a legitimate critique of African American culture. Side note, Rallo Tubbs’ afro is amazing and hypnotic.

Similarity Match: 85%
Created by the same minds behind ‘American Dad’, ‘The Cleveland Show’ also has a lot of humor that references pop-culture. However, most of the attention is placed references to African American culture.

‘Bob’s Burgers’ (Fox, 2011- )

Venturing away from the weird mind of Seth McFarlane this next show is what offbeat comedy is all about. Welcome to the little world of Bob Belcher, a man with a taste for food puns and one of the strangest families this side of animation.

Bob runs a small burger joint by the ocean with his wife, Linda, who has a knack for making up songs and making rash decisions. His eldest daughter, Tina, likes zombies, unicorns, and boy’s butts, while the middle child Gene, has his mother’s love for music and electronic keyboard to go with it. And then there is the brutal enforcer Louise, whose rambunctious nature belies a ruthlessness not seen since Alexander the Great.

The show deals with Bob’s neurosis and his family’s antics as in all good series similar to ‘American Dad’, but it features a pretty awesome soundtrack with a new song every episode.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Bob’s Burgers’ is a show of extreme weirdness and layered awkward comedy just like ‘American Dad’, but it deals with it in the world without spies and lecherous aliens.


If You Like ‘American Dad’, You Will Like…

The next shows take place in an animated universe and deliver epic satire, but one deals with an adult having a difficult time adjusting to the changing world, the second focuses on a man from the present who stumbles into the future, third is the show that started it all.

‘King of the Hill’ (Fox, 1997-2010)

Mike Judge, the creator of ‘Beavis and Butt-head’ and the character Daria, is in full control of the hilarity of ‘King of the Hill’. The show is set in Texas and is centered on the life of Hank Hill, the most American, American, who ever lived in America.

Hank prides himself on his work ethic, his sense of fairness, and the fact that his life is more disciplined than someone in a gimp suit a BDSM festival.

Unfortunately, his life does not seem to want to cooperate as he must contend with his well-meaning if unpredictable wife Peggy, his sensitive, smart, and anti-athletic son Bobby and his collection of friends – Dale, Boomhauer, and Bill, three of the most irresponsible beer gun-toting folks… in Texas!!

While both ‘American Dad’ and ‘King of the Hill’ are about archetypes of the American male, Hank Hill (despite some of his behavior) is a much more normal representation. And he doesn’t have a kill list.

‘Futurama’ (Fox, 1999-2013)

Philip Fry was a 30-year-old pizza delivery boy who got a prank call from the folks at a cryogenic suspension lab and ended up on ice for about 1000 years.

After waking up in the 31st century he takes a job with his great-great-great-great-great grandson – a dangerously psychotic, yet brilliant, scientist who handles shipping business and builds more doomsday devices than Monsanto.

He joins the crew of the Planet Express delivery ship, led by the one-eyed captain, with a giant crab doctor and a thieving, booze hound robot named Bender Bending Rodrigues, who does nothing but insult poor Fry.

‘Futurama’ is a show that deals with some of the weirdest possibilities in science fiction with humor similar to ‘American Dad.’ However, it’s set far into an alternate future rather than your backyard.

‘Family Guy’ (Fox, 1999- )

Welcome to the Quahog, home of the Griffin family, currently in my humble opinion the funniest family on television. Created by Seth McFarlane, otherwise known as the man who made the Oscars entertaining, the cast of the ‘Family Guy’ is a collection of misfits that mock the dumbest and most sacred aspects of American society, in a way similar to TV shows like ‘American Dad’.

There’s the father, Peter Griffin, who has the IQ of a bottle of urine, Lois Griffin the former groupie turned homemaker, the dog Brian who can’t get his book finished and baby Stewie, who is probably going to attempt world domination.

Because the comedy beats are very similar the biggest differences between ‘American Dad’ and ‘The Family Guy’ is that Peter Griffin is stupid and ‘American Dad’ has fewer cutaway gags and more guns.


Daddy’s Home

‘American Dad’ satirizes some of strangest things in American culture through its brilliant characters.

Who is your favorite character in the show?

Let me know in the comments down below.

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