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TV Review: American Dad Bursts the “Piñata”

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I think that American Dad has figured out that episodes featuring Stan (Seth MacFarlane) and Roger (also MacFarlane) competing with each other, especially when the stakes are mere pride, work very well. As such, that was one of the two major stories going on in last night’s episode, “A Piñata Named Desire”. Stan claimed he could act, as he said he did it for a living working for the CIA. Roger, an alien with the voice of Paul Lynde who is a master of disguise and characters, challenged Stan’s boast. What was unusual was that Stan appeared to give up very quickly, going to Roger for acting lessons early on in the episode.

Then things took a twist. Stan learned so well from Roger that he beat his friend out for the male lead part in what I presume to be a local community theater production. Not wanting to be outdone, Roger took out the female lead and assumed her role. What resulted was a hilarious make out session (and more) between the two, as somehow convincing gay sex became the epitome of acting.

It is well known that MacFarlane goes for shockingly offensive humor, and there was plenty of that. I’m not saying gay sex is necessarily offensive in of itself, but any sex between any two genders, whether they be a same-sex of opposite-sex couple would have grossed anyone out the way it was depicted here. I was grateful that the height of Stan and Roger’s love making was not explicitly shown. But the egos of these two characters play so well off of each other, it’s like a very strange, yet welcome, remake of The Odd Couple.

I would like to know why American Dad only acknowledged the conceit that Roger is always showing up as someone else in such a half-hearted way. Sure, Stan called him out on it when he was heading to the acting classes, asking if the teacher Roger recommended was just going to be Roger in another costume. Roger admitted it was likely. Yet, later in the show when Roger dressed as a women to win the female lead, Stan was still the only one at the theater that recognized him. Let’s be honest: Roger is an alien with a huge gray head. He’s not exactly subtle. With television, especially animation, we often suspend disbelief. But since the series poked fun at its own tool anyway, why not go whole hog? I want an episode where EVERYONE recognizes Roger, no matter how many times he changes wigs and clothing.

The B plot involved Steve (Scott Grimes) planning the ‘best sleep over ever’ as his final overnight gathering with his pals. OK, I see why bullies poked fun at the geeky gang for calling their hang out a sleep over, but plenty of cool kids spend the night at their friends’ houses through high school, and even college and beyond. Why couldn’t the characters just realize they should change what they call it, rather than throwing away the whole convention? At least in the end? I did like their ‘long lost black friend’, though. Very funny stuff.

American Dad currently airs news episodes just outside of prime time, Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on FOX. Make sure you remember the odd timeslot, because the show is worth it.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com