American Dad: “The Boring Identity”
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American Dad: “The Boring Identity”

Part of me believes that “The Boring Identity” would have gotten away with being essentially the same episode as “The Missing Kink” in terms of plot structure if they were placed farther away from each other over the course of this season. But it’s more interesting to have them air on back-to-back weeks to see how two episodes take the same basic structure and build upon it in different ways. Last week, Francine used Roger as a sounding board in an attempt to get Stan to spice up their sex life. This week, she takes advantage of Stan’s amnesia—yes, that old chestnut—to rebuild his personality to fit her old vision of fixing Stan up over the course of their marriage.

The road to Francine taking over and trying to change Stan is much funnier this week, with a mission to take down Osama Bin Laden—following up that PR stunt from a few years ago—at Doug & Buster’s, American Dad’s copyright-busting answer to the Dave & Buster’s barcade chain. After capturing Bin Laden, Stan gets on one of those motorcycle arcade games, and the CIA agents’ reactions to his reckless video game driving and high-speed crash are appropriately over-the-top.

But just like last week—when Roger exposed Stan to so many sexual kinks that he went overboard and tried to incorporate all of them, to the detriment of his connection to Francine—Stan swings too far to the other extreme once again. Thanks to Francine’s rebuilding process, Stan is so sensitive and caring that he’s embarrassed at the mention of even flattering information he views as private, bawls during movies and wedding vows, and won’t stand up for the better hotel room they reserved when given one with a worse view.

Without his usual arrogant bravado, Stan is a spineless, go-with-the-flow peon, not the brash and outlandish man who will put “Takin’ Care Of Business” on a pizza parlor jukebox and strip while jumping on every table, destroying everything around him. He’s a self-centered, annoying, brusque jerk—who even ardently cares about the speed of a refill at a pizza place—but it’s that demanding streak that attracts Francine and matches with her own impatience for the saccharine.

One thing I didn’t bring up about “The Missing Kink” last week, and honestly something I took for granted while writing about it, was its kink-positive attitude. Francine wants Stan to be more adventurous, and doesn’t shame him as a horrible deviant for overindulging once he’s seen what is available outside missionary. But “The Boring Identity” shames Stan’s altered personality first for being weak and submissive, and then for not being true to his actual self. It takes until the third act to get to the real problem: Stan’s new personality is a bad match for Francine, which is why she shouldn’t want him to be that way. The only funny part of Francine altering Stan’s personality is her brazen attempt to convince him that he works at a futon shop. Delroy, the owner, immediately commits to the long-form improv, building a complex backstory and becoming Stan’s new best friend since childhood.

Meanwhile, over in the B-plot, Steve wants money to buy a soda maker, and Roger gets him a job as a paper-delivery boy. This is the surreal plot for the night, with low-rider bikes, impossible newspaper scams to make  more on the side, and a literal fairy of a boss. The Canadian quarter bit, Roger’s final act of violence, and Roger’s disguise as a “newspaper hustler” make this the funnier and more interesting plot simply because of how odd it is. I would’ve watched an entire episode of this as a mash-up of The Paper Brigade and American Gangster (or something like that).

If given the opportunity to jumble the last two weeks and get the A-plot of “The Missing Kink” and the B-plot of “The Boring Identity”—difficult to reconcile because of Rodger’s role as go-between in the former—I’d take it, since it would make for one wall-to-wall hilarious episode and one mediocre one. But as it stands now, this is a weaker take on a repetitive plot that still has enough built-in laughter to merit watching.

Stray observations:

  • Pizza Overlord is a fantastic name for a pizza parlor, and I always like when it shows up, but I wish it were a little more heavily themed.
  • Delroy is by far the funniest character in the episode, and it all comes back to his uncompromising commitment to the act.
  • “It doesn’t?”

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