American Dad Season 8 Review “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

American Dad is a show that succeeds primarily on its manic cartoon energy. In “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” the show’s absurdity engine seems to be running mostly on fumes, and so we get a half hour that tends to take its time with things, and only really has one story, not counting the runner with Roger (which I’ll get to later.)

This week, Stan once again reverts to a boyhood form, this time motivated by some not-uneasy feeling jealousy of his son’s best friend, Snot. It starts, however, as just hatred, or desire for Steve to grow up friendless like he did, or something, and so he fakes a mob hit to force Snot into witness protection, A.K.A. locking him up in a hotel with some food and giving his mother a flimsy excuse. (The gag with the psychic painting on Snot’s wall was pretty great, though.) It all resolves somehow, and maybe it’s sappy or maybe it’s mock-sappy, I can’t really tell, but it doesn’t quite matter, because the laughs were coming few and far between.

There’s a lot of extended air guitar montage going on this week, and while the joke lands the first time, I could feel it dragging when they pulled it out again towards the end. That they try and pull the same trick, of making something longer and assuming that makes it funnier, three times in the episode is kind of despicable; and yet, I found myself laughing at Stan and Snot talking with the lights out, like tweens at a sleepover. It was probably the best-written bit in the whole episode.

The worst written, however, had to be the entire thing with Roger and Jeff. And not necessarily because I thought the jokes were too harsh, or gross; I’m all for pushing the envelope, when it works. I loved it in the beginning of this season, when an episode ended with Roger skinning Jeff alive so he could wear his skin as a suit. None of that wacky, over-the-top ridiculousness shows here, and instead we get context-less, boring, unfunny violence, and pretty much nothing else. No story, no funny lines, no fun costumes for Roger, nothing.

That took the whole of “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” down, but to be honest, there wasn’t too much elsewhere to really keep American Dad afloat this week, right? Kind of a bummer episode all around.

(P.S. What was the deal with that “Asian tourist with a thick accent taking photos” gag at the carnival? Is that really where we are, still?)