Review: American Dad “Little Bonnie Ramirez”

 

Overview:

Roger finds himself in a tailspin when Francine’s critique that his characters have lost their edge seems to ring true and he finds himself in a depressing rut. Roger goes to extreme lengths to prove that his best characters aren’t in his past, but his mission puts Francine in real danger after she becomes the collateral damage of his persona experiment. A frightened Francine becomes reliant on the strength of Roger’s personalities for her survival, while the rest of the Smith family grow worried that they might not be able to attend their yearly cruise.

Our Take:

Agents of chaos are infinitely entertaining characters in animated series and they’re often the individuals that stand out the most. These characters burn bright, but they run the risk of flaming out, especially when series run for hundreds upon hundreds of episodes. It’s a dilemma that South Park eventually explores with Cartman, Family Guy examines with Stewie, and Futurama unpacks with Bender. However, American Dad’s Roger is a very special brand of narcissist that’s been able to become steadily more unhinged with very little consequence. It’s absolutely insane that during American Dad’s formative years that “rape” would be the most appropriate keyword to associate with Roger’s brand of chaotic comedy, yet he continues to function as American Dad’s unpredictable wild card and an entity that possesses actual heart. 

American Dad’s Roger has previously avoided a certain level of deconstruction, which is exactly why “Little Bonnie Ramirez” now feels like the perfect time to dig in. This is not only because pivotal American Dad episodes like the 250th “Persona Assistant” and “300” have expanded upon the Roger persona department conceivably as far as possible, but there has also been series additions like Rogu, that are able to carry on Roger’s shtick with a certain level of freshness that the original lacks. 

It may perhaps just be a coincidence, but “Little Bonnie Ramirez” also arrives during a season that’s been particularly light on Roger storylines, let alone ones where a renegade persona takes center stage and ruins the lives of multiple innocent people. So, when Francine suggests to Roger that he’s lost his edge, it’s honestly a thought that’s entered my head to some extent this year. I don’t think that the character has become neutered or pushed into problematic territory, but it’s absolutely helpful that American Dad engages in this conversation at this point. All of this strengthens “Little Bonnie Ramirez’s” main story, but this is still an exceptional episode and story that’s a top tier American Dad entry even without this extra context.

Sometimes American Dad episodes throw so much at the audience that they don’t have the proper amount of time to resolve their stories. “Little Bonnie Ramirez” effortlessly connects what initially feel like random dots and the episode’s madness somehow becomes the cure for its insanity. The best example of this is with how Isabella, the Francine actress from the Unsolved Mysteries reenactment poses as Francine so that the Smiths can indulge in a cruise, but then she also turns into the catalyst to Roger’s scheme to save Francine. This ability to transform nonsense into solutions is also exactly what Roger’s ethos is all about and so it’s appropriate that “Little Bonnie Ramirez” echoes this.

“Little Bonnie Ramirez” is honestly a contender for a Top 10 episode of American Dad and it’s the type of episode that would easily be included with a “Best of Roger” compilation. It’s actually such a strong installment that digs into the bones of the show and Roger’s character that it could have been held for American Dad’s 350th or 400th episode and it’d still feel satisfying. This is everything that one hopes for in an episode of American Dad and “Little Bonnie Ramirez” succeeds on every level, whether it’s the story, dialogue, or the smart way in which everything comes together. Episodes like this are proof that American Dad still has plenty of steam left and that perhaps some of its best has still yet to come.

And here’s hoping that Lieutenant Wings catches Steve from becoming a splatter on the sidewalk.

 

Daniel Kurland

Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.

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