American Dad! is 'too violent'

...for an 8.30pm slot, regulator rules

American Dad! has been rapped by broadcast watchdogs for being too violent.

Cartoons may have a long tradition of extreme brutality – from Tom & Jerry to Itchy & Scratchy – but Ofcom has upheld a complaint that one sequence was too extreme to go out before 9pm.

Broadcaster FX has been censured for airing an episode at 8.30pm in which, the regulators ruled, ‘the intensity and length of the violence ... was very unusual for a pre-watershed cartoon programme’.

The offending episode was show in in August, and revolved around the title character Stan bullying his son, Steve, to make him stand up for himself.

It included a 13-second flashback sequence of Stan’s wife Francine taking part in a knife fight when she was a teenager, stabbing and killing someone in an underground fight club. Francine then triumphantly taunted the dead girl.

There was also a 90-second sequence when Stan was attacked by a man who had bullied him as a child. This section featured Stan being tied to a children’s roundabout and punched repeatedly in the face; being buried up to his chest in the ground while a child’s riding horse was used to beat him in the face; and receiving a powerful blow to his head. Stan suffered two black eyes, a broken nose and a badly swollen face.

Ofcom also noted there were three occasions when Stan, adopting the persona of a teenage bully, taunted his son with sexual boasts. For example, stealing Steve’s bike and taunting: ‘I’m gonna mount this and ride it hard. Like I did your mom last night.’

FX admitted the programme should not have been broadcast before the watershed – and said it only went out because of human error in checking the episode.

Ofcom ruled that the violence was unsuitable for children, who were likely to be watching at the time, and added: ‘the level of sexualised language and innuendo also went further than Ofcom would have expected.’

Published: 3 Dec 2012

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