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A Rapture-Ready Yule on ‘American Dad’

posted by Paul O'Donnell

This year the Charlie Brown Christmas special was pre-empted by President Obama’s Afghanistan speech, leaving the holidays to be celebrated by the likes of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” which, it must be said, have their own way of keeping Christ in Christmas. On “American Dad,” MacFarlane’s culture-war complement to his animated sit-com “Family Guy,” Stan Smith, a chunk-chinned, lunk-headed CIA employee naturally defends not only truth, justice and the American Way, but Christianity, and not just Christianity, but the rapture-ready kind. In last night’s Christmas show, Stan is peeved to be left behind when he arrives in church to find the pews empty of everything but the Sunday best of those attending the Christmas service–even the “phony Christians” who only show up on Christmas and Easter.Stan, of course, demands a recount. When Jesus arrives to engage the Final Battle against the Anti-Christ, Stan angles to be raptured. Instead, Jesus steals Stan’s wife, leaving Stan to go the Tribulation alone. The surprise of the episode was not that MacFarlane’s writers are still working the rapture nearly 15 years after the first Left Behind novel appeared. (f generals are always fighting the last war, satirists these days seem to be stuck spoofing the last regime.) It’s that they squeezed a few decent rapture jokes out of the gag, mostly by playing the rapture scenario literally–those of us left behind with the clothes, it stands to reason, are going to be able to see check out all those good Christians naked as they rise to heaven. My favorite gag is during the montage showing the saved streaming skyward from several cities: Vegas yields one lonely sin-free soul.Roger, the marooned alien from another galaxy–a galaxy where Paul Lynde is popular–speaks for liberalism on the show, and he gets some good digs in (“Virgin birth, water into wine. It’s like Harry Potter but it causes genocide and bad folk music”) before the rapture stuns him into believing. “Someone call Mel Gibson and apologize,” he says.The episode soon runs out of steam, moving on to parody sci-fi flicks as Jesus and the Anti-Christ engage in the Final Battle. The deeper implication seems to be that religion, especially the cosmic clashes forecast in pre-millenialist theology, shares a common source with our other myths. But my hunch is that the writers have just seen a lot more “Star Wars” than they have read John Nelson Darby. American Dad!



  • knoxvilledaniel

    American Dad is only marginally more funny than Family Guy, whose humor has descended into the bargain basement of cheap jokes at the expense of the physically & mentally disabled, veterans, gays / lesbians, Southerners, & excrement jokes & routines about HIV / AIDS. Oh & his knee – slapping routines about 9 – 11, Fox should just axe Family Guy ( & the Cleveland Show, maybe ) & let American Dad grow, perhaps. Seth MacFarlane’s Big Bag O’ Gags is becoming increasingly empty & full of well – worn, rusty routines that are as funny as a pall – bearer slipping on a banana peel at a funeral. & he’s made his contempt for religion well known to anybody that isn’t living in a cave on a deserted island.

  • CK

    That wasn’t so much “Star Wars” as it was “Blade Runner” or “Strange Dayz”.

  • http://www.americandadepisodes.org/ american dad episodes

    Should start defining the FCC inform parents of their kids watch inappropriate programs. I’m kidding, of course, but I’m so sick of the nanny state. I personally find offensive, American Dad, and I think that Fox should cancel the show because it’s just bad TV, but I do not think the government should have something to say about this. My solution is for American Dad what everyone is offended by having to change: Do not Watch IT. If you are watching (or let his kids watch) and you’re offended, you’re an idiot.

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