‘American Dad’s Matt Weitzman Reflects on 300th Episode Milestone
The series, centered on conservative and ultra patriotic C.I.A. Agent Stan Smith (MacFarlane), chronicles various scenarios and escapades he faces with family life including his wife Francine (Wendy Schaal), son Steve (Scott Grimes), daughter Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane), as well as fellow family members, alien Roger (MacFarlane) and goldfish Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker). They’ve been making fans laugh since the series’ debut in 2005, and 15 years later co-creator Weitzman is celebrating.
In anticipation of the landmark episode, TV Insider spoke with Weitzman, who opened up about the special episode and its relevance within the show’s history as well as how much he thinks the Smiths have changed.
300 episodes is quite an accomplishment. How does it feel to have reached this American Dad milestone?
Matt Weitzman: A while ago when it was 200, I was like, “I want to get to 300.” For some reason, that number was significant for me. The fact that we made it here, it’s a freaking miracle is what it is. It’s impossible. It just doesn’t happen. To have anything but gratitude is insane. You don’t develop a show and think, “Oh, it’s going to go 300 [episodes].”
I remember being amazed when we got our second season pickup. That was fantastic. I was like, “Oh my gosh. We’ve made it. We got a second season.” Now I’m about to start my 16th season. But 300 episodes, it’s a blessing. It just goes to show that, thank goodness animated characters don’t grow up, because I know that I have a difficult time growing up myself.
It’s wild to think the show has been on the air for 15 years.
It’s crazy, we’ve had such a journey. We will have had eight seasons on Fox, and we’re about to start our eighth season on TBS. It goes beyond words. It’s ridiculous and fantastic. I don’t know how people can continue to watch this, but I’m just happy that they are [Laughs]. Luckily we’re telling stories that you can’t tell in any other way. We have characters that have their own specific points of view that no other show can do. That’s a blessing.
You mentioned that you’d wanted to reach 300 episodes. How much planning goes into the actual episode itself? Is it similar to any episode in the season or do you designate that spot for a special story?
For the 100th episode, we killed off 100 characters, for the 200th episode, we found 200 Rogers. With the 300th episode, we wanted to continue to have the number play a significant role in it. It just felt natural. Somehow we ended up making the number significant within the episode itself, so I wanted to find the way to do that.
Now that you’ve reached 300 episodes, is there a new goal in mind? Perhaps 500?
We’re about to start our 16th season at the end of the month. After that season, I’ll have 344 episodes. That’s a crazy number and not that far away from the 400 number. I’ve given up guessing whether or not this show continues. Every year, I’m ready for them to cancel us. Every year, I get surprised. At this point I have no idea what to expect.
You’re working under unusual circumstances at the moment. What challenges have you faced making this show during the pandemic?
The recording actors is so difficult, because I’m now sitting at home, and I can no longer see them and go to a booth. Internet connections are difficult, hearing exactly how they sound is a challenge. The whole process kind of blows chunks. I don’t know if that’s a technical term, but yeah.
I do everything from editing to directing actors. It’s all very complicated because you’re no longer sitting in a room and it’s all immediate. It’s a challenge, but I’m also really grateful to be able to continue to do it, because I know so many people in this business have had to stop work, and not be able to do anything that they want to do. To maintain production is fantastic. I’m so happy to be able to do it, but it’s just harder.
How much do you think the Smith family has changed since fans first met them on American Dad in 2005?
The show used to be more political, but now it’s become more family-oriented. Certain characters have evolved. I feel like Stan has become a bit more open. He has more tolerance than he probably did in the beginning. Hayley used to be much more about environmentalism and things like that, now it’s more about her finding herself. Although we haven’t completely let that go either, because we have an upcoming story about her being involved with developing solar panels with Roger.
Obviously we don’t let go of the characters completely. Steve is perpetually going to be like any 14-year-old boy who’s obsessed with girls. He’s always going to want to get a girl, and mostly that’s not going to happen. That’s the tragedy of being a 14-year-old boy [Laughs]. Roger’s now a father in a weird way to Rogu. Klaus, who was much more lascivious, is now a little bit more just plain pathetic at times. So the show naturally evolves. The nature of not really aging and yet evolving is always the balance that we have to tread on.
American Dad, 300th Episode, Monday, September 14, 10/9c, TBS