Review: American Dad “Mom Sauce”

Your mom’s sauce tastes eerily similar to my mom’s sauce.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

In this episode, we find out that Steve and Snot have operated under strange co-dependency since kindergarten. As the writers really play up the “Snot is poor” angle, we learn Steve’s been supplying his best friend with homemade Steve Bucks for years. Much like the famous Disney Dollars, they can be exchanged for Steve Smith-related goods and services. And also like Disney Dollars, they are complete crap and exist to create the illusion of wealth.

Anyway, that all changes when the Lonstein family strikes it rich in the form of Snot’s Mom’s Mom Sauce, a dipping-style dressing that became super popular overnight—literally. Because the night before, Snot and his mom went to the Smith’s for dinner and this new sauce tastes very similar to Francine’s “mom sauce.”

Snot’s new rich and flashy lifestyle is too much for Steve, and he’s not good at hiding his discomfort. And when Steve goes home, his world comes crumbling down when he learns Francine has never made a damn thing from scratch—including her beautiful “homemade” kitchen window panes. It turns out, Francine’s sauce is a thick flavor of Newman’s Own salad dressing. Armed with this information, Steve devises a plan—a most sinister plan.

Snot’s amazing rooftop birthday party is ruined when a Newman’s Own SWAT team raids the fancy hotel and arrests Ms. Lonstein while Child Protective Services bags and tags Snot. Steve stands by and allows the madness to happen, pretending to look shocked. Later, when Francine and Steve try to defraud the foster care program by attempting to adopt Snot, the ugly truth comes out and Snot is devastated by the betrayal.

Haunted by his guilty conscience, Steve visits Snot’s mom in prison. She also knows about Steve’s deception and attempts to murder him with a rusty shiv. Fortunately for Steve, he learns of Ms. Lonstein’s amazing toilet hooch and devises a far less evil scheme to get her released. Once Newman’s Own gets their greedy hands on this toilet wine, Snot’s mom gets back her freedom and beloved son, and Steve Bucks once again line poor Snot’s pockets.

In the B-plot: Stan, Jeff, Roger, and Klaus all attempt to become famous models after reading a flyer at the mall. They lose weight and wind up looking and feeling sickly instead of desirable—and that’s the whole joke.

 

Our Take

This was a rare miss within the exotic and usually entertaining world of Steve-centric episodes. While Snot being poor has been established throughout the series, it has seldom been a big factor storywise, so Steve’s sudden addiction to altruism didn’t feel authentic. The reveal that Steve wasn’t jealous but afraid of losing his friend was true to his character, but the road there was ham-fisted and tedious. Why did Steve basically have to hit rock bottom before baring his heart to a companion he never had trouble talking to in the past? And “because the episode needed to happen” isn’t a good enough excuse.

It felt like the A-plot could’ve been much shorter since Steve is a far smarter and open character than the writers gave him credit for in this instance. And if the A-plot had been shorter, there could have been an actual B-plot. This week’s “Stan and Jeff invisible bear hunt” took the form of modeling and included Roger and Klaus who were both surprisingly devoid of witty one-liners. Roger having an enormous tapeworm inside him may have sounded funny on paper, but it wasn’t enough to carry this malnourished plotline and it certainly wasn’t strong enough to end the show. While Steve and Snot’s story wasn’t ideal, it ended on a good note with everything returning to the status quo and would’ve made for a much better ending, cryptocurrency joke and all.

There was a lot of Snot’s mom in this episode, and I’m sorry, but she is not an interesting character. We enjoy the Smith family because they’re larger-than-life and own their particular quirks. We tolerate characters like Tuttle, Greg, and Barry because they have their moments. And we love characters like Avery Bullock and Brian Lewis because they’re hands-down the best! (Where the hell have you been, Avery?) But Snot’s mom lacks that certain je ne sais quoi. The woman who voices her does a fine job without sounding stereotypical—I think the fantastic Susie Essman voiced her in earlier seasons—but overall she doesn’t stand out in the American Dad extended universe.

 

Gregory Austin

A writer, editor, voice actor, beta reader, and foppish Buffalonian socialite. On social media I discuss writing, cartoons, comic books, and why the Communist Manifesto really should've had pictures.

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