American Dad Season 8 Review “Adventures in Hayleysitting”

American Dad wants so bad to be shocking. At its worst, that means it devolves into a Family Guy-style bad taste competition, but when it’s operating at its best abilities, like “Adventures in Hayleysitting,” the shock value is balanced with just the right amount of silliness, and the whole thing comes out succeeding on some absurd level.

The main plot plays off every single teen movie premise you’ve ever seen, with the completely incompetent Hayley charged with looking after her brother, and Steve and his nerdy friends trying their hardest to be cool. On the other side of the episode, Stan and Francine are going to Cavalia and then having nasty hotel sex, or at least that was the plan, until things start to fall apart.

The Steve and Hayley plot starts light, but only gets darker, as a meth head with an obsessive need to keep track of his finances (played by guest star Charlie Day) gets tied in, but Stan and Francine, off with Roger as their carriage driver, provides relief throughout the episode. It has all the funny one-liners of the episode, including my favorite, the detail that one of Roger’s horses is named “Nanny McPhee,” and Stan’s earlier creepy compliment that his wife looks “like that little slut from Tangled.”

Strewn throughout the episode is the slowly-developing plot of Jenny, the babysitter, whose soccer accident is what kicked the whole plot of the episode into motion. At first, it isn’t clear why we’re still checking in on her, except to get in a few morbid jokes about an incompetent doctor and a young girl dying suddenly, and to make use of guest star Alison Brie, but it pays off later in the highlight sequence of the episode. But, before we get there, Steve’s teen-movie antics result in Day’s meth head, and his lizard, getting their heads shot off in graphic detail. It’s exactly the kind of bloody shock that American Dad loves to throw in, but here it works, surrounded as it is by otherwise silly elements, and paying off in the genius sequence in which Jenny’s ghost soccer-kicks the car into the Smiths’ garage, and the meth head’s ghost’s head, complete with lizard, pops out of the center of the screen to yell “goal!!!!”

It’s all very ridiculous, and the perfect combination of morbid and absurd elements coming together to resolve what could have been a standard babysitting-movie plot. “Adventures in Hayleysitting” is one of the stronger episodes of American Dad in recent memory, and ending it all it with Chekhov’s Roger-covered-in-lube sliding back in once you’ve forgotten about him was just the cherry on top. Here’s hoping episodes like this keep coming in.