HAIRCUT 100: Day 78, No. 78. Following on from yesterday, Roger the Alien (also created and voiced by Seth MacFarlane) in the first of the Family Guy spinoffs, American Dad. Sticking with – while at the same time subverting – the formula of the classic American sitcom, Roger is very much the Stewie Griffin figure in the Smith household in American Dad. His is the character around which the majority of the episodes are based, he is similarly sexually ambivalent and, like Stewie, has a propensity for cross-dressing (a cartoon archetype pioneered by Bugs Bunny). There is also that nod to Bond villains again – a leitmotif in our hot one hundred – made explicit in the ‘Tearjerker’ parody. Unlike Stewie, Roger’s character has become more not less extreme as the series has progressed, moving from his original concept as a camp, snarky and alcoholic alien rescued from Area 51 and living secretly in Stan’s attic (a kind of drunken ‘ALF’ or ‘ET’ figure, always depicted with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other) to a much more powerful, destructive and depraved force. Roger is criminal, murderous, drug-addicted and psychopathically indifferent, and quite happy to sacrifice others for his own gain, often to fulfil very simple needs, such as allowing Francine to be hit by a wrecking ball in order to have her steak. That said, his deadpan wit, infinite alternative personas, and absurd level of naked self-interest are extremely funny, proving, as ever, that like Eric Cartman in South Park, it is good to be bad, especially in adult animation.
Roger’s voice, and indeed core personality, are clearly based on the comedian Paul Lynde, for whom the term ‘snarky’ could have been invented. Lynde was a kind of American Kenneth Williams, who played on his barely disguised homosexuality, and, like Roger, had a drink problem. He is probably most remembered for playing Uncle Arthur in Bewitched, and as a thirteen-year regular on Hollywood Squares. He was also ‘The Hooded Claw’ in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Lynde died in 1982, but would probably have loved Roger. ‘All right, I got everything we need: chocolate milk, cheese puffs and some Turkish amphetamines I scored in the bathroom.’