Does American Dad Reflect America?

“But you told me we hate the gays,” Steve questions.

“That was, A, before I knew they came in Republican form, and, B, before they cut and styled my hair,” replies Stan.

Since the Supreme Court decided to do a big ol’ cannonball right into the gay marriage issue it does seem that everywhere I turn I see “gay”. My email is hitting borderline abuse proportions from the Human Right Campaign, NYCLU, and the ACLU. The online news sites that I read have obviously been keeping the coverage front and center, and of course the pundit shows I watch are following it closely and so in turn I am too. However when I flopped down on the sofa to veg out and told Netflix to go ahead and play the next episode of “American Dad” I couldn’t help but laugh to the universe when the episode “Lincoln Lover” started playing.

For those unfamiliar with the series or this episode, Stan (who is the “American Dad”) is not selected by his local chapter of the Conservative Republicans, to speak at the Republican National Convention. After watching a pretentious surrealist play about Abraham Lincoln, he decides to write and perform his own play about the first Republican president, to return to the original values of the Republican party. Stan’s play, a one-man show entitled “Lincoln Lover”, depicts a very close relationship between Lincoln and his most trusted guard, Captain David Derickson. The play becomes successful as many gay men come to watch, though Stan (who wrote the play based on Derickson’s notes) apparently does not notice the homosexual overtones of his play. The Log Cabin Republicans invite him to speak at the convention; however, it is not until during a Log Cabin Republican party that Stan realizes its members are gay. He is won over by an elaborate musical number and begins acting more like a stereotypical homosexual male. Further hijinks ensue. (A slightly modified and partial summary from Wikipedia. I don’t want to give the whole episode away if you haven’t seen it!)

What’s I find interesting about “Lincoln Lover” is that the character Stan, an egocentric idiot, learns something about homosexuality in this episode. (Don’t worry folks, it’s a good thing he learns!) The thing he learns has him accept homosexuality, and that carries throughout the series. Upon reflection I remembered that Stan doesn’t “learn” things. There is no evolution for the character, Stan even has said he doesn’t learn lessons. Apparently he does about homosexuality. There has been only one other episode I can think of where Stan has learned something and his character evolved, and that was “Surro-gate”. That episode deals with homosexual couples being allowed to raise children. Again, it’s a lesson learned that seems to stick. (Again, don’t worry, it’s good!)

I think it’s telling that a show that very much reflects ongoing culture has its most socially conservative character learn to accept homosexuals and eventually their right to exist as a family. Legalize marijuana? No. Wife get a job outside of the home? No. Go to church every Sunday? Yes. Homosexuals are people like anyone else? Yes.

If Stan Smith can learn that lesson, maybe there is still hope for our country to come together.

Oh shit. I temporarily forgot the Stan Smith was an animated character in a cartoon. We’re probably doomed.

FYI – “American Dad” is available for streaming on Netflix and you can view the older season on Hulu Plus. The episodes I talked about today were “Surro-Gate” Season 3, Episode 7 and “Lincoln Lover” Season 2, Episode 4.