American Dad, S13E12 – “The Dentist’s Wife”

Episode grade: B

There have been undoubtedly dozens and dozens of episodes of American Dad! that rely heavily on the insane flexibility of Roger’s character and the fact that he can become basically anyone he wants to be, due to the inherent suspension of disbelief that an alien can put on a wig and fool everyone other than the Smiths themselves. Not that this is a complaint, by any means — this flexibility is something absolutely unique to television, and the Sun will probably burn out before you could run out of potential new shenanigans for Roger to get himself into. It’s one of the magic ingredients that has kept his show going so strongly far beyond what others (cough*FOX*cough) have managed.

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However, the show rarely dips into Roger the person (so to speak): the underlying personality that drives the need to be so many of these characters he portrays. We’ve seen before that “Roger” can be rather insecure and fragile, but it’s pretty rare to see this fallibility once he’s in full character mode. While out having coffee as one of his most elegant characters, Roger notices a woman nearbly who just exudes fabulousness. Francine points out that that woman, Meredith Field, is the most interesting woman in Langley Falls, and Roger is instantly consumed by both jealousy and awe: Meredith is the actual genuine article, whereas he’s just a nobody putting on disguises. Attempting to outdo her by creating his most fabulous persona ever — no, not Raider Dave, Cecilia Takaru — he quickly flames out under Meredith’s scrutiny, and in a fit of self-destructive desperation, torches his own Magic Personae Factory and resolves to spend the rest of his life as the most boring person he can think of: himself.

Francine’s influence on Roger can be somewhat of a mixed bag. Sometimes she can be a guiding voice of reason, and other times she can be an enabler of his worst, most selfish tendencies. This time around she’s somewhat in between, driving Roger to and fro and being the springboard for his impulses, but still subtly nudging him towards what she thinks is best for him. She encourages him to do volunteer work to help find himself, but he winds up choosing to be a volunteer for one of Meredith Field’s charity events. Meredith’s kindness displayed to him is, of course, returned with patented Roger psychopathy when she tells him he can be whoever he wants, and he decides he wants to be her. He quickly escalates to literally replacing her (having her dumped onto a barge to get her out of the way), and manages to live her life for a brief while (including apparently shtupping her dentist husband) before Francine rescues Meredith and they finally confront him. Under pursuit by the police, Roger throws himself off a cliff, symbolically killing off his false Meredith persona and presumably beginning anew. It’s a rather touching resolution, at least as touching as it can be given it’s Roger and he ultimately won’t have learned a thing.

Klaus’ character lends itself quite well to B-plots. As a goldfish with a German man’s brain trapped in a fish bowl, there’s not a whole lot he can really do, other than offer commentary or torment the Smiths. This time, when Stan, Hayley, Steve, and Jeff return from their first Crossfit workout and wind up having all their muscles seize up and paralyze them, he’s determined to finally have the birthday party they denied him two years ago. None of his “friends” bother to show up, so he invites over a bunch of perverts from Craig’s List just to get Stan to admit Klaus can actually bring it, even though he actually can’t. Things are just about to go even further south with the perverts (the old man carrying Steve upstairs is particularly ominous) when Coach Trey from Crossfit shows up to rescue them. As usual the B-plot serves little narrative purpose, but delivers a respectable set of sight gags and good lines, so it works.

Random observations:

“We tried, but the panhandlers aren’t going anywhere, sorry.”

“Coach Trey is awesome! Remember when he put a protein bar against his crotch and pretended to jack off all over the yoga class?”

Sucks to see Roger destroy his Magic Personae Factory so soon after we’re introduced to it.

“I also hear you rubbing on stuff. Probably our groceries.” “Probably.”

Pigeons’ spirits apparently get jetpacks when they die.

“An apple IS a tip!”

Ugggghhhh… Steve’s tiny freakish eyes again. I wish they’d stop doing that.

“Son of a bitch, he barged me!”

The guy from Stan and Francine’s trip to the waterpark (“my wife is the biggest bitch in the UNIVERSE!”) is one of the perverts that shows up to Klaus’ party.

Roger pulled the “blue/black to gold/white dress” thing. Subtle.

“Hey, Frannie… how was the barge?” “Honestly?…. Pretty great!”

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