Review: American Dad “Flavortown”

Family War…Family War never changes.

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

One fateful Family Game Night, Stan singles out Jeff about having no identity beyond smoking weed and pushes him to get a job at a pizza place. On his first day, he runs into famed foodie Guy Fieri, who is in town scouting new hip food places and takes a liking to Jeff, but Jeff turns down hanging out with him…until Stan, who sees Guy Fieri as his personal hero, pushes him again to become part of his posse, the Pesto Crew. This turns Jeff into a Grade A douchenozzle whom Hayley can’t stand, so he goes to formally quit the group.

That is, until Fieri reveals that he’s retiring and wants Jeff in charge. This massive shift in personality for Jeff is concerning even to Stan, who investigates and uncovers that Fieri isn’t even a person, but an ancient culinary demon who has jumped bodies for millennia. He takes the possessed Jeff to the real life Flavortown, a remote area holding the only substance that can seal Fieri and the source of his power: spicy habanero-infused queso (actually that sounds kinda good). But since he cannot taste it himself, he asks Stan to taste it for him, but the temptation becomes too strong and he succumbs, destroying himself and freeing Jeff. Jeff decides his identity will just be about loving Hayley.

Also, Roger and Klaus start pretending to be valets, but it turns out they’re in Steve’s comic books? Whatever.

OUR TAKE

I don’t think I’ve had a chance to cover a Jeff episode before, so I guess I should talk about what I’ve thought about how few of them there have been. He started as a satellite character of Hayley, but after the two got married in the show’s 100th episode and he was sent on a space odyssey by Roger, he’s actually grown into a pretty funny and interesting character in his own right. He’s into weed more than Hayley, so that opens up his episodes to be even more psychedelic and outlandish, like being trapped on a prison-ship/space mall ruled by a heartbroken master (“Lost in Space”) or time travelling to see his wife again but arriving when everyone’s 60 years older (“The Longest Distance Relationship”). Even episodes technically not starring him still show his innocent nature against weird sci-fi nonsense with an alien seeing the world through his eyes (“Holy Shit, Jeff’s Back!”).

So, this episode is the first since “Joint Custody” in Season 2 that has focused solely on Jeff and not had it be part of a major storyline. It has a lot of what I just mentioned about Jeff-focused episodes that I liked, but also brings in Stan’s continuing disappointment with him, which spurs on this journey for an identity. It also actually reminds me of what I like about American Dad-style plots over its peers like The Simpsons or Family Guy. Like those, American Dad will go for the ridiculous and escalate it to hell and back, like turning the lack of knowledge about George Washington Carver into a century’s old conspiracy about peanuts, but it feels like Family Guy and The Simpsons (to a lesser extent) just sort of seem to give up half way instead of properly resolving their plots, while American Dad follows through.

This would be an example of where that both is AND ISN’T the case, since it feels like Stan doesn’t make use of anything from Jeff to beat Fieri, but it’s still a surreal and imaginative story that I basically don’t mind. What I do mind is the B-plot with Roger and Klaus. B-plots in American Dad lately do feel like kind of an afterthought, but at least have a resolution that doesn’t feel like you threw darts at a board to wrap it up. But other than that, I still feel like this was pretty decent. I may not dab the grass, but I’d trip with Jeff anytime.

Score
7/10

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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