This American Dad review contains spoilers.
American Dad Season 15 Episode 20
“Stan, I want you to stop at nothing to make sure that this house is safe.”
Let’s just get the bad news out of the way first: RIP Stick. It was good while it lasted, buddy.
After a rocky last few episodes that went a little too off the rails, “Funnyish Games” feels like vintage American Dad and it even features a storyline that feels more akin to the plots from the show’s earliest seasons, yet presented with the show’s modern sensibilities. Additionally, every character is particularly on point here and gets played to their strengths, but the episode also finds ways to feature most of the show’s cast and find creative pairings for everyone. “Funnyish Games” tells a simple story about safety, but it’s an extremely enjoyable episode from this season.
Stan and Francine typically view the humble home invasions of their neighbors as entertaining fodder to gossip over, but when it looks like they might also be in danger, Stan buckles down to get a home security system in order to make Francine feel more protected (even though he’s packing like mad guns). Since Stan needs everything that he does to be the best, it’s rather entertaining to watch him grill the cheerful Vicki from TBD Security as she runs through possible security plans. Stan’s blissfully ignorant (and bloody) antics to test Vicky are hysterical and provide big laughs before the episode even really gets rolling.
Stan is far and away this episode’s MVP and “Funnyish Games” is full of classic examples of him going over the top with his efforts to keep his family safe. He loves them so much that this desire to protect them practically turns into a danger to them. There’s a moment during all of this excitement where Francine refers to Stan’s actions as a traumatic home invasion, only for him to cheerfully correct her and say that it was an “eye-opening demonstration,” that really boils down the entire relationship.
Stan begrudgingly settles for the standard security system that Francine looks into, but Stan quickly proves in traumatizing fashion why this security system is subpar. Stan’s Strangers-esque attack on his family—complete with anachronistic soundtrack—is simultaneously horrifying and hilarious, but it actually gets through to Francine. It’s very much the kind of tough love approach that Stan takes towards his family that comes with the best of intentions, but puts absolutely no thought into the consequences (the colossal blood stain on the wall from his stunt is a fantastic visual gag that becomes funnier the more real it’s treated). It’s certainly fear mongering on Stan’s part, but Francine puts her trust in Stan to go above and beyond with the house’s security, which almost immediately reveals itself to be a very poor judgment call.
Stan’s special “personal touches” include lasers, gun turrets, a cheeseburger-loaded wood chipper, and S.T.A.A.N. (Secure Tactical Alarm Administrator…the N has no significance), a smart house like implementation. Stan’s efforts work, but almost a little too well and they drive Francine into a paranoid stupor as a result. Just as it gets to the point where Francine is overreacting a little too much and it looks like things will go down a predictable route, “Funnyish Games” takes a compelling left turn. S.T.A.A.N. locks Francine in a panic room in order to keep her safe from her biggest threat, Stan. Now, killer smart house stories aren’t exactly original, believe it or not, but what makes this version work is that S.T.A.A.N. doesn’t want to kill Stan because it’s gone rogue or fallen in love with Francine or anything. S.T.A.A.N. is correct in its assessment that Stan is a threat to Francine because of his exuberance towards safety, but it’s all just an innocent mistake that turns rather violent.
The episode’s final act corners Stan and Roger into a kill room that’s meticulously designed so that someone like Stan would be unable to escape from it. It’s a considerably bleak scenario, but everyone makes it out alive by the end of this debacle. There’s a lot to laugh at through this disastrous experiment, but S.T.A.A.N. unlocks some very real feelings in Francine about her relationship with Stan that almost make the house’s attempted double homicide worth it. The emotional conclusion to this episode help this be more than just another crazy instance where Stan goes too far for his family.
Stan and Francine are tied up with making sure their home is in peak secure shape and that it doesn’t turn one of them into a widow, but the Smith children find themselves crossing paths at school now that Steve is taking an architecture course at Groff Community College. While Steve’s high school exploits are far from over, it’s actually a solid idea to give the overachiever a few college courses so he can mingle with his older sister in this capacity. Hopefully we’ll see more of Steve at Groff Community College to get more out of this dynamic (if Roger’s tumor can turn into his child and stick around, then why can’t Steve remain in college?).
“Funnyish Games” sees Steve attempt to walk a mile—or rather, lounge and go nowhere—in Hailey’s shoes. Proactive Steve receives a rude awakening when he learns that Hailey does as well as him at school, even though she’s totally checked out. Steve’s world is shattered and he decides to stop burning himself out with his eager beaver approach and instead adopts Hailey’s more lackadaisical outlook on education and life. All of this is fairly low stakes stuff, but there’s a sweet conclusion to it where Hailey takes the fall for Steve cheating off of her. Hailey and Steve don’t get to bond too often, so it feels sincere when she tells him to stay true to himself rather than to emulate her (as well as the knowledge that she eats literal garbage). It nicely compliments the breakthrough that Francine experiences over Stan.
“Funnyish Games” keeps itself relatively constrained and focused, and it’s all for the better. Kirk J Rudell’s script for the episode really nails it and Stan’s jubilation over how he outsmarts and terrifies his family to prove his point is just so perfectly on brand. “Funnyish Games” is strong, not just in terms of its characterization, but also in regards to where the humor comes from. The running references to Stick’s “death” and Klaus’ grief over it or Stan’s encounter with the sarcastic Home Depot employee are insane, patient jokes that pay off, rather than the more random approach that’s been present in the past few installments. Even one seemingly random scene that cuts to Steve’s life in the year 2108 is organically entered and exited. It’s one of the funnier episodes of the season and it earns those laughs.
And hey Roger, I’m a STARZ Man. We can talk about Boss, or Counterpart, or Ash Vs. Evil Dead…you know, if they weren’t all cancelled.