This American Dad review contains spoilers.
American Dad! Season 13 Episode 6
“Well try harder. He’s carrying your husband after all.”
Pregnancy is one of the more overdone television tropes that American Dad has managed to avoid in its thirteen years of crafting stories. So, while the premise of adding a baby to the mix is hardly the most exciting premise, it does gain a certain poignancy when it’s American Dad that’s indulging it. And rather than it being Hayley or Francine as the one that’s expecting, the honor ends up falling on the irritable Roger.
Last week’s “Bahama Mama” re-addressed the fact that the Jeff that was currently on the series is actually an alien courtesy of some events that have gone down during past recent seasons. I naturally expected Jeff’s alien status to come up at some point over the course of the next few seasons, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be coming into play in the very next episode. Basically, Hayley and Jeff have been hitting the old copulation chamber awfully hard lately with the hopes of creating another Smith. As the effort seems to be increasingly fruitless, Roger lets the considerable jaguar-sized cat out of the bag that due to Jeff’s brain being the only part of him that’s human, Hayley is never going to get pregnant from him (no matter how many novelty condoms he happens to use).
This sees some creative enough mythology being injected into the series wherein Roger offers up the solution of acquiring Jeff’s brain and giving birth to a human version of himself. This also results in a rather gruesome scene where Roger actually obtains Jeff’s brain. I suppose it’s in good company though, joining the long list of other excessively violent Roger/Jeff set pieces. It’s worth mentioning that when Roger is in labor and ready to give birth, his eyes begin to bleed as a means of signaling that all is well. So yeah, there’s plenty of messed up body horror going on this week.
“Roger’s Baby” moves along at a steady enough clip that before you know it the episode becomes about Roger going through the throes of pregnancy, complete with pains and inappropriate cravings (and go figure, pregnant women aren’t allowed any meth). This extends to Hayley and Roger bristling towards one another as they argue over whose “baby” this actually is, with Roger just desperate for some sign of appreciation through all of this. He’s even so torn up about the whole thing that he’s willing to devolve into Madonna parody music videos to hammer his point home.
This pregnancy is a solid foundation for the episode, but the B-story puts the focus on Steve and Snot, specifically looking at the building blocks of their friendship. Steve has basically volunteered Snot for a makeover and “three happy days” of transformative bliss courtesy of the “Morning Mimosa” crew. The story turns into a big parable about humility in the end, with it receiving surprisingly relatively equal screen time to Roger and Hayley’s pregnancy business. This material might not contain the same impact as what Hayley and Roger are going through, but I still did get a certain degree of sick pleasure watching the deranged “Morning Mimosa” team relentlessly try to complete their task. “Roger’s Baby” weaves both of these stories together pretty well. While it might be an ancillary detail to the plot in the end, watching Steve and Snot criss-cross away on their bikes from the “Morning Mimosa” van while Roger simultaneously tries to find safe haven to give birth makes for some pretty exciting visuals for the episode to fall back on.
On top of all of this, the episode still happens to find time for some trademark insanity too, such as the mysterious Dr. Calgary and his inbred helper, Billy. Honestly, my hardest laugh of the episode came from how Calgary’s giraffe/wolf hybrid creature roared. This tone is carried on in what’s actually a pretty dark, upsetting note for the episode to conclude Steve and Snot’s story on. This episode does much to present Langley Falls with a deeply seedy underbelly this week, which I’m not against.
“Roger’s Baby” might not be the strongest episode of the season. It lacks a healthy dose of Stan, but seldom seen character pairings end up keeping the episode feeling lively. It’s not that this episode isn’t funny, it’s just that it feels like it’s lacking a bit of the overwhelming confidence and resonance that the past two weeks’ episodes have pushed forward. If nothing else, American Dad seems to be in a weird little semi-serialization corner which I’m more than fine with.
Who knows, maybe we’ll even get an episode set in Florida with Klaus and all of his bros.