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'American Dad!': How will the Fox show change under President Obama?

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Not every political-comedy shop is freaked out about the apparently unmockable Barack Obama stepping into the Oval Office. “We love it,” declares American Dad! executive producer Mike Barker, who plans to subject the animated Fox series’ right-wing CIA operative Stan Smith to his own special brand of torture: Democrats. “It kind of invigorates the show because we’ve had a character who’s been on top for four seasons. Starting the fifth season he’s now on the losing side of things.”

Barker and his Dad cohorts are already churning out material to reflect the new political reality. Under Republican leadership, Stan got to “do what he wanted with impunity,” says Barker. Soon he’ll be “more of an Archie Bunker — a guy who thought the world made sense, but now everything ceases to be comprehensible to him.” Which may explain why the new Stan will sink to new lows, like stealing soup from homeless people, or refusing help for his nascent crack addiction — all because he doesn’t believe in entitlements. Not that he’s the only one adjusting to the new administration. Left-leaning daughter Hayley suffers “a bit of an existential crisis,” reports Barker. “Now that the Man is no longer in power, what does she rail against?”

The only trouble is that in the world of American Dad, the Man

sort of is still in power. Airing now are episodes that were in the can

long before Obama’s election, which means that Stan likely won’t meet

the new power until at least next season. “There’s been talk about

possibly having an episode where it becomes clear to the family that

Stan has, for the last 12 months, been in complete denial about the

outcome of the election,” as a kind of meta-wink to viewers to explain

the character’s ignorant bliss. “Hopefully the audience bears with us,

and doesn’t take us to task too much on the fact that he should

probably be more disgruntled earlier than we can actually make him,”

says Barker. “We’re doing the best we can, is what I’m telling you

here.” —Alynda Wheat