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Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched American Dad's 300th episode!
American Dad made history tonight, becoming only the 25th scripted primetime TV show to ever reach 300 episodes. True to form, the Smith family didn't phone it in, and the episode delivered an event 15 years in the making, at least somewhat. The installment, fittingly titled "300," was not full-length parody of Zack Snyder's period actioner, but rather a full-length continuation of the fan-beloved Golden Turd Saga. The absurd and surreal side plot has been in play since all the way back in Season 1, and the Golden Turd came full circle in this milestone ep! (A sentence everyone makes in life, surely.)
During the episode, the Golden Turd found its way from the Pope's conspiratorial cabal (plus Beyoncé, but not The Weeknd) to a food-delivery worker to an ancient order dedicated to stopping the feces from destroying the world, and from destroying the lives of the Smith family. Think of it as The Deuce Vinci Code or Nati-anal Treasure, perhaps. Or don't. In any case, CinemaBlend spoke with American Dad co-creator and co-showrunner Matt Weitzman ahead of Episode 300's debut, and he talked about why the creative team chose to expand the Golden Turd Saga in such a noteworthy way, saying:
Well, I mean, we've always wanted to do a story that brought the turd to the family. And it kind of felt natural for it to have terrible consequences. And then at the beginning of the year, I really felt like making that the 300th [was fitting]. We had to figure out something and it had to be big enough to be significant for the audience, and for them to be feel, like, 'Oh my gosh, 300 episodes,' and that was the way to do it. In the 100th episode, we killed off 100 characters, and in the 200th episode, we saw 200 of Rogers characters. Bringing the number 300 to become part of the story felt like it needed to happen, and making Roger and his regenerative abilities come into play felt like 'Oh, yeah, that all makes sense.' And when the writers came up with that, it was like, oh my gosh, this all kind of felt very natural and surprising at the same time. So I was just happy that we were able to come up with a story that the audience, I think, will be invested in and surprised by. That's all I try to do as a as a writer and as a person who's trying to make people laugh as much as I can.
To think, in this episode, Roger went from being terrible at origami to lying about wanting to eat a cricket to saving the world with a time-traveling message about hiding his own shit. Clearly, it's the kind of plotline that every show should hope to have in its back pocket upon reaching #300. It sounds like I'm saying that in jest, but I'm not, because this ep was another awesome show of respect to longtime American Dad fans. As much as I would have loved to have seen 22 minutes devoted entirely to Ricky Spanish gags, getting a flash-forward depicting the all the family members' brutal demises was probably even more amazing.
When I asked Matt Weitzman about giving Stan, Francine, Steve and Haley such a shocking flash-forward, he admitted it was a uniquely sad situation, and brought it all back to the evil power of the Golden Turd. Which is understandable, since the poop-related plotline has held everyone's attention sporadically over the years for increasingly hectic mini-segments, even though audience members have been able to hold back the need to kill each other. According to Weitzman:
Right? I mean, it's sad. It makes me sad. But I'm just happy to be able to feel anything at this point in my career. But I mean, I did [get sad]. You're invested in these characters. I feel like anybody is capable of anything, and that's the nature of the Golden Turd is it makes good people do bad things. And so it felt natural for our loving family to come apart at the seams over Roger's feces.
I can't tell you how many family rows I've had over the years that all came back to bejeweled alien shit. Well, I can, and that number is zero. But huzzah for reunions!
Matt Weitzman did speak a bit more about going so far as to kill off everyone in the family, and all while Roger was stopping off for some French fries. In his words:
Everybody has their breaking point and, you know, this is theirs. It's scary to kind of go, 'Oh my gosh, are they...? They're really...they're dying. They're dead.' I mean, you kind of scratch your head going, 'How are you gonna get out of this?' Luckily, we were able to kind of do that. I think that we were able to figure out, in the end, a satisfying way for the audience to kind of go through that journey and yet feel like, 'Oh, I didn't get completely ripped off.' It's always a tricky thing on those endings is coming up with an ending that's surprising and also not just deus ex machina – let's just reset it for the sake of resetting it. But yeah, nobody likes to kill their babies less than I do, but sometimes it has to be done.
Matt Weitzman also stated how important it still is to him and everyone on the creative team, even after 300 episodes, to keep delivering the kind of episodes that long-time fans want to keep watching out of pure enjoyment, as opposed to it being solely habitual. For me, someone who has indeed been an avid viewer for the past 15 years, it's always been about the enjoyment. And the theme song. And all of Steve's songs. And [said in light whisper] Ricky Spanishhh.