A romantic wedding anniversary for Hayley and Jeff turns into a frustrating character-building exercise after Jeff’s people-pleasing nature goes a step too far. Jeff examines why he needs to always be on everyone’s good side while Hayley reckons with how Jeff’s capacity to help others can sometimes leave her feeling overlooked. Jeff prepares to make a grand dramatic gesture that’s supposed to prove to Hayley that he values himself over others, but Hayley’s left to worry if Jeff’s priorities may be permanently skewed.
Elsewhere, Stan’s efforts to make his mark at the CIA costume party get wildly out of hand and leave his audience confused instead of impressed.
Jeff wasn’t a part of American Dad when the series first started and even though he’s officially worked his way into the main cast he’s still someone who’s routinely underestimated. There’s a lot of power and variety in Jeff-centric American Dad episodes, especially when they’re centered around Jeff and Hayley, and they usually allow the stoner to showcase his hidden depth. ”Please Please Jeff” is a rewarding American Dad episode that touches new ground for Jeff and reflects the surprising levels of nuance that fill this humble character.
Many American Dad episodes fixate on Hayley and Jeff’s relationship, but it’s a rarity to get an installment that’s specifically focused on their wedding anniversary. It’s appreciated that American Dad allows these two to celebrate this major milestone. Far too often shows feature a perfunctory marriage that doesn’t really change any of its character dynamics. It’s always appreciated when American Dad doesn’t just dwell on Hayley and Jeff’s relationship, but that they’ve been in a functional marriage for several years now and occasionally it’s important to acknowledge that. It’s unlikely that American Dad will ever progress Hayley and Jeff’s union to the point where they have kids, but episodes like “Please Please Jeff” at least make such a decision feel more plausible if the series were to ever take that route.
“Please Please Jeff” finds a lot of strength by focusing on Hayley and Jeff’s marriage rather than avoiding it, but the catalyst of this episode actually touches upon a major breakthrough for the couple. Jeff’s people-pleasing nature begins as a modest nuisance to Hayley, which slowly festers in a believable fashion. This grievance manifests into a genuine obstacle once Hayley worries that Jeff only married her because he’s a people-pleaser, which is a fear that he admits to being only partially true. This is rich territory for the couple to explore and while no one expects this episode to conclude in divorce, it’s still surprising that Jeff is able to make some actual breakthroughs about himself and his marriage.
Jeff and Hayley’s storyline in “Please Please Jeff” dabbles in touching melodrama, which American Dad comfortably offsets with Stan’s “Chicken Baby” costume shenanigans. It’s the complete tonal opposite to Jeff’s identity crisis and a classic example of American Dad’s ability to double down on nonsense minutia until it avalanches into comedic gold. There’s really not much to get with Stan’s Chicken Baby experiment, but that’s part of what gives all of this such life. There are such simple, yet satisfying details that are present here like how Stan has sketched the costume designs on a tablet or forced his family to rehearse their public reactions to his costume.
“Please Please Jeff” is a reminder that American Dad knows how to be both sweet and silly when the occasion calls for it. It’d be easy for this installment to fall flat or never tap into any real emotional resonance between its main characters, but it consistently rises to the occasion. It’s a satisfying episode that hits all of the classic American Dad humor, but it also celebrates Jeff both as an individual and as a partner. It’s emotional storytelling that still gets several opportunities to take unconventional detours. In a show like American Dad that can occasionally get accused for being disaffected and callous, episodes like “Please Please Jeff” are proof of the contrary and why audiences still care about these characters after more than 300 episodes.
Oh, and don’t forget to check your moon schedules, y’all!