I’ve been reviewing House Of Lies in its first season, and have noticed that as it goes on, it seems to be trying less and less to actually be a comedy, which makes the offensive “jokes” stand out and the show as a whole an annoyance to watch. “How much better would this be,” I keep thinking, “if it actually made me laugh? American Dad makes me laugh, and I’ll forgive it all kinds of annoying/offensive crap.”
Is this actually true? Well, House Of Lies hasn’t been funny enough to find out (yet?), but if tonight’s mediocre American Dad is any indication, the answer is yes – because this one wasn’t funny enough for me to not be annoyed by it. The jokes, by-and-large, were predictably “shocking.” Francine doesn’t like to go to a museum during free Sundays because of “ethnic” people. Principal Lewis is taking bets on everything possible, so when he wins money off a girl getting her period for the first time and says “Always bet on red.”
Those are chuckle-worthy lines at best, but when they’re the most amusing part of the episode, that’s a problem. It’s worse when the jokes don’t land at all, like a bit involving a child-raping baseball/wrestling coach that reminded me of the worst of Family Guy more than anything from this quality season of American Dad.
There’s only one plot in this episode, which may be part of the issue, since American Dad thrives on manic energy. Stan is inordinately proud of his high school wrestling career, including having the record for most matches won in a row. He’s even got a museum in the house, which makes no sense, something Steve turns into a unenthusiastic, referential joke. He’s encouraging Steve to be more athletic, until Steve mentions that the school doesn’t even have a wrestling team anymore.
Stan decides to create one using Steve and his friends, except that Steve is terrible, which distracts Stan from seeing that Barry is beating his record. There perhaps could have been a better episode involving Stan attempting to deal with all four boys’ reactions to their wrestling prowess, but as it is, Barry gets basically no reaction to being a fantastic wrestler. He just wins with his girth and occasionally cute little phrases, while Steve loses happily. It’s still all about Stan, until it also becomes about Roger, who gets recruited to defeat Barry. Until Roger threatens it, and then Stan has to take him on himself, and, well, then they wrestle for a long time.
Writing up the plot makes me realize just how little really seemed to happen when so much could have in “The Wrestler”. There’s the evergreen theme of letting go of your past no matter how happy you were in high school/college, but “The Wrestler” only alludes to that without making any point. Even the brief joke of Stan trying to fit in in school might have ended up better. Ah well. Can’t win ‘em all, American Dad, but you made a good go of trying.
- Light episode for good Roger jokes, but: “My Russian drifted into a little Dracula there at the end. I gotta work on that.”
- “I don’t think this is the right school for Suzy.” Probably the best coda to an episode I’ve seen, though it seems those are pretty rare with American Dad?
- Klaus was involved in two of the better moments, having his bowl filled with ashes and then filling in for Stan at work. Also not a good sign for the episode.