American Dad Post-Mortem: Matt Weitzman on “The Two Hundred”

Hot off the heels of ‘American Dad’s’ 200th episode, we talk with co-creator Matt Weitzman about the accomplishment!

American Dad is a behemoth of television. It has carefully cultivated a terribly unique, perverse sense of humor and storytelling, making it one of the most interesting animated programs out there. 

The series has been on air for over a decade and crossed over networks as TBS greedily snatched it when the opportunity came. Now in the middle of its 12th season, American Dad just hit the milestone of its 200th episode, and it did not disappoint. There are few people more qualified to weigh in on all things Dad than executive producer and co-showrunner Matt Weitzman, who has been with the show since its inception. We dug deep into the show’s momentous episode, and discussed why the series has lasted for so long. 

DEN OF GEEK: 200 episodes is certainly a milestone for any television program, let alone an animated one. A very select sample has passed this landmark. Over the course of this time, what do you think is the most important thing that the show has learned? Or the most important thing that the show has changed during its run?

MATT WEITZMAN: Now that’s an in depth question! What has the show learned… Well, we started out as a much more political show and found out that that wasn’t a real success. Then through connectivity with our audience, we figured out to turn it into a family show. When we first started out we had elements of Family Guy with more cutaways and a little more flashbacks. We also learned that that wasn’t necessarily a good road to continue down either. Especially since Family Guy was back. When we started out Family Guy was gone from the airwaves so this was kind of another version of Seth’s voice. But when Family Guy came back, we were like what are we doing? Seth was very much involved in the early stages—especially the pilot—so it felt a lot more like Family Guy, but as time went on we said, “No, this seems like a mistake.” 

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What’s interesting is what you think a show is and what it’s going to be about are often not right. You end up discovering something more through the influence of the writers, the artists, and everyone that’s involved. You think you’re going to start out in one direction, but you have to remain open to saying, “Hey, this isn’t what we were doing. This isn’t what we set out for. But it’s a better place to go.” 

Perfect example: what you guys have done with Roger is night and day from what he started out as, where he was stuck in the house all the time.

That was obviously an incredible bonanza when we discovered how Roger can react to the world. And it took a little bit of re-jiggering the brain where you go, wait a minute, so he connects with the rest of the world but no one’s going to ask questions? I think his first or second time going outside, his costume was a burn victim, which kind of justified it for everybody. But then we just decided to put him in costumes and see how people would respond, and it’s so funny seeing him in these costumes. You couldn’t say “no” to it. It felt so natural. That really is the lesson though—just staying open and being aware of what feels good instead of trying to maintain that perspective that might have felt crucial in the beginning.

With the 200th episode, when a lot of series have a big episode like this, it’s usually just some sort of spectacle. However you guys have this weird well of apocalyptic continuity that you pull from in episodes like “Rapture’s Delight.” Is it nice to have sort of set that precedent and have those tools in place to use when you want to turn out something like this?

The world’s ending, man! Maybe we like to blow up our world so we can rebuild it. That’s really the whole nature of the show. We start and stop, and start and stop. Being able to have a whole episode that doesn’t necessarily connect to the canon of the show, but is still a great ride holds a lot of appeal. We’ve done it so many times with the audience that it’s just fine at this point. 

Exactly. We’re used to it, which is insane.

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In the end, the stories that we wanted to apply to this character or that character made it worth taking this kind of journey. 

Were there any other ideas that you were considering for the 200th episode, or was it always this take on the end of the world? 

It wasn’t even necessarily this. This started out as a much smaller story about Stan meeting a guy with a tattoo, him getting a tattoo, and then becoming really obsessed with it. But then it quickly became a case of wouldn’t it be funnier if Stan had a bunch of tattoos, and how would that happen? What would facilitate Stan needing to get all of these tattoos? And so it feels like it would have to be the end of the world, and when that was brought up it just seemed like the natural fit for the exact kind of show that we’d want for our 200th.

Off of that, I counted 43 Rogers during that end sequence, which is great. That is all of them that we’ve seen throughout the series, right? 



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I mean, I don’t think so. I think there have been more Rogers than that. I think I had read somewhere that there were a couple others that had slipped through the cracks. And it wasn’t even a case of looking to put them all in, but we were looking to put a lot in in a way that made people go, oh my God, that is so great. And it really was a bit of a love letter to the audience. If you’ve never seen the show before, watching that is cool, but you’re still like, what is this? But anybody who’s been watching the show should be so happy with that. It was so much fun.

American Dad’s 12th season can continue to be seen on TBS, airing Mondays at 8:30pm.