American Dad Season 8 Review “American Stepdad”

There’s something a little frustrating about an episode of American Dad in which Roger wears one costume for the entire time, and it’s a boring one. At first, I assumed his balding yoga instructor was a one-off, a funny gag for the opening of “American Stepdad,” but no way was he going to be the center of the A plot. But then he was. And while it didn’t stop the episode from being funny, I can’t say it was fun in the way that the more gonzo Roger characters can be.

Of course, being American Dad, there’s no shortage of gonzo-osity elsewhere in the episode, particularly in Steve’s subplot. It starts with a plane crash (Barry’s insistence that they “keep it wet” like a beached whale was pretty great), and only gets less believable from there. The whole thing is just an excuse to dig into the Fast and Furious series, and especially the (very much present) homoerotic undercurrent in those movies. They find a script for the next sequel filled with explicit gay sex, which they edit out before taking it to Hollywood, where they somehow get a meeting and find out the truth: they need to film the explicit parts, and then edit them out later for American audiences. Also, the producer they meet with has tiny legs, and fake legs that he props up on his desk.

The episode is filled with asides like the leg gag above. At one point, Stan says, “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” and a little orphan monkey shows up. It’s perfectly silly, in the way that Roger-as-stepdad teaching Stan to slide from one edge of the frame into the other is perfectly silly, and the kind of stuff that American Dad pulls off so well. The main thrust, where Stan plays the petulant teenager to Roger’s new father figure, is plot territory that’s well-worn for comedies of all kinds, but the jokes make it largely irrelevant.

Oh, right. Stan’s mom shows up, which is the impetus of all of this, but she’s mostly a non-entity, until the twist at the end. Her Greek husband dies (requesting to be buried in a “spana-coffin-a”) and she moves in, then falls in love with the yoga instructor within the first three days. The ludicrousness of the whole thing is highlighted nicely by the presence of framed photographs of things that happened literally seconds before, a gag that comes back in the end, and ups the ante nicely with a photo from the future. Also, in France, they show all the gay sex in Fast and Furious 7. It’s all the kind of stuff American Dad does that nothing else on TV can quite pull of, and it makes “American Stepdad” one of the funnier episodes of the season. Are you all with me? Or am I overrating this week’s half hour?