American Dad!, S13E09: “Anchorfran”

Episode grade: B+

Greg and Terry have been one of the best gay couples on any sitcom in TV history. Sure, they can be a bit clichéd in their behavior and tastes, but since they debuted at the beginning of the series the writers have always treated them as a legitimate couple with legitimate love for one another, and Francine especially has always been one of their strongest allies, standing up for their rights to be who they are. Even Stan, who was originally freaked out to learn they were a gay couple, quickly evolved over the early seasons of the show to the point where he was willing to defend Terry and Greg’s relationship to Greg’s macho ex-football player father and Stan’s idol, Tank Bates, in season 5’s “Daddy Queerest.”

Alas, with Mike Barker’s exit from the show, it was inevitable that the writers would have to also eventually address Terry’s obvious absence from Greg’s life. They could have recast the part (which would have been painfully obvious) or gone with a Simpsons-style character death à la Maude Flanders, but in true American Dad! fashion they went with the unexpected and hilariously absurd: Terry dumped Greg to follow 311 on tour.

Surprisingly, Greg is more upset to have lost a news anchor partner than a life partner, though it has been hinted in recent episodes that their relationship wasn’t the strongest — most notably in “A Boy Named Michael”, in which Terry was willing to kill their adopted son (Roger in disguise) to keep some of his less high-class habits secret from Greg. Francine making the jump from housewife to substitute news anchor wasn’t much of a stretch for this show, and a much more interesting take on the same basic idea than what both Family Guy and The Simpsons have done in the past. Francine’s just as dynamic and flexible a character as anyone else in the show, actualized in large part by Wendy Schaal’s irreproachable voice acting. Stan just hanging around mostly to exploit the fact that Francine now gets free food from Loco Larry’s and eating so many burritos he blows out his colon was just the cherry on top.

Francine quickly becoming too enamored of the limelight and seeing new weatherman Memphis Stormfront as a threat to her celebrity was an obvious turn, though with the kind of insane resolution American Dad! excels at: Stan abusing his CIA authority to create a deus ex machina “a category six subpolar tornadocane” that devastates Langley Falls and brings Greg and Memphis back together. Stan and Francine are indeed good people, and an exceptionally well-matched couple.

Roger’s B-plots can be pointless but rarely boring, and tonight was no exception. Roger becoming obsessed with a teenage dreamboat character from a 90s-era boardgame, then tracking down the character’s real-life model, is hardly a stretch for our favorite psychotic pansexual alien. When he discovers that the real person is nothing like the character, Roger reacts in the way we all saw coming… though it did nothing to temper the shock humor of Hayley and Steve slowly realizing on the drive back what became of “Dylan”.

Random observations:

Kind of funny how they didn’t mention what happened with Greg and Terry’s adopted daughter, Lilly. Or did I miss it?

“In high school, my nickname was ‘superfriend!’ Actually, it was ‘super mouth’. Actually it was ‘suck machine’.”

Apparently the heatwave ended during the title sequence. Stan using the handheld electric fan on his blurred-out crotch was a nice touch though.

“What would you like for dessert? A BEAR claw, or a TWINK-ie, or maybe ASIAN dessert?”

“Sounds like a job for ‘Suck Machine’!” “How did you know my high school nickname?”

“I’d sing you the second verse, but it gets pretty… explicit.”

Something really cute about Roger, Hayley, and Steve singing together in the Mini so enthusiastically.

DANGER: SNAKES “Aaaahhh!! Why do we have this room?!”

“Easy… as pie.” “Stan, that’s a cake.” “Oh, what would YOU say?” “Piece o’ cake.” “Oh yeah, it’s really easy to come up with clever word-play when you’re not holding in your butthole with a piece of duct tape.”

The cobra blowing out the flame was a nice touch.

“Aren’t you straight?” “Yes, but I’m terrified of these people! They can control the weather!”

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