This American Dad review contains spoilers.
American Dad! Season 13 Episode 5
“It’s different for men. Aging just means that we’re closer to death.”
In my chat with Matt Weitzman last year, he briefly mentioned how the series would acknowledge the fact that the Jeff that is currently on the show is actually an alien. He alluded to the idea that inevitable issues that married couples like Hayley and Jeff might face, such as pregnancy, may lead to certain complications due to Jeff’s secret alien physiology. I’m all for forward momentum with the series’ bigger strokes, so seeing not only the topic of pregnancy get broached, but also the larger alien story at hand is doubly satisfying this week. Granted, the final alien reveal may wait until the episode’s final moments to present itself, but it acts as a strong tag to an already impressive episode.
With Hayley and Jeff finding themselves with baby fever, Stan finds himself filling with remorse. He’s none too eager to become a granddad, with the life event only reminding him of his limited mortality and the inevitability of life. This results in some decent jokes that see Stan freaking out or moping while everyone else is celebrating (Offscreen Motors and their aversion to cameras is also such a great, vaudevillian sort of joke). Stan naturally tries to remedy this situation by secretly drugging his daughter and getting Jeff to fumble his way into elective surgery, rather than just talking to them. That in itself would be pretty typical American Dad, only the episode eventually goes one step further with all of this by doing its best Strangers on a Train impression.
The allusion to Hitchcock doesn’t exactly feel justified, but it’s practically worth it to see that Stan is just as thrown by the detour. He’s frequently trying to convey to his “stranger” that he’s not interested in a murder pact, and yet, bullets be flying. Stan’s exasperation over this new kink in his plans is enough to give the episode’s second half a strong burst of momentum.
While Stan is dealing with Hayley and Jeff’s news by trying to reverse their announcement, Steve on the other hand embraces what’s to come. American Dad is a series that has dipped its toe into the drug pool a number of times. For a while one of the series’ most viral clips was Roger and Steve’s coked out, bullet-heavy takedown of a drug cartel. But in spite of any previous baggage that American Dad might carry on the topic, “Bahama Mama” manages to go to some different places regarding this territory. Most notably, this plot sees Steve and Klaus paired together, which yields a lot of great results (with Klaus continuing to prove himself as this season’s wild card), but the drug shenanigans are also directly stemming from Hayley and Jeff’s baby plot. One directly feeds into the other with the episode’s sound structure resulting in it having more time to get in gags. There’s a bit of a Breaking Bad thing going on here (Steve even pointedly decides to wear a porkpie hat through all of this), but the dated reference is never pushed in your face too much. It’s more about Steve’s transition than the drugs themselves.
With the thought of potential children being in the air, uncle-to-be Steve is suddenly thinking about providing for his not-yet-born relative. This shift in the family dynamic also has Steve contemplating shedding much of his childhood image as well as the toys that come along with it. Accordingly, this more mature version of Steve should be better equipped to impart life lessons to his nephew. This change for Steve also sees the episode barreling down on a joke that beautifully blossoms into a very funny set piece—aided purely by the fact of how long it goes on for. It’s just a strong example of the sharper comedy on display in this installment where even the tired jokes go through a gauntlet that ends up transforming them into highlights of the episode.
Oh, and if all of this weren’t enough, Roger gets a sudden, severe infatuation with lifeguarding due to him coming across Baywatch. The idea that Roger has never seen Baywatch before may be a bit of a stretch considering how much of a pop culture junkie he is, but I’ll let it slide because it’s hardly the focus here as the episode’s red-headed C-story. It’s not like it’s the main narrative drive of the episode. Plus, it introduces us to Roger’s cabal of beach-bound alter egos, Rafferty Westmore as Denver Dallas, Patrick Brian David Michael Green-Howard as Kit Kittering, Kay Pardo-Simcard as Lt. Faruza Furtsies, and Lucy Washington Boobs as Patrice Mixhole, so how can you fault this direction that badly? Crazily, this is pretty much the same sort of gag as Steve’s “brand name kids’ toys” rundown, where it’s the sheer length or quantity of the joke that is what makes it really pop. And yet, this is still a very funny joke that works. There’s also some beautifully swept under the carpet (or into the garbage can, as it were) murder courtesy of Roger so he’s able to get what he wants here, which is never not fun.
“Bahama Mama” is a very full episode of American Dad that not only impressively juggles a number of heavy balls quite well, but also has them all dovetail quite elegantly during the final act. The episode’s actual ending is also perfect American Dad and exactly the sort of capper that I look for in this show. And hey, an honest-to-God reference to Reginald! I’d be far too happy if the show actually brought him back this season.
Now if you’ll excuse me Dad’ers, I’ve got some Frontgammon and Starving, Starving Rhinos to play here.