The influence of wordplay in “American Dad” can point to something literal or a subversive reality hanging just below the surface. With Episode 8″ “Trophy Life, Trophy Wife”, it uses the metaphorical and literal against each other. Sometimes there is so much subtext running through an episode that the role of what it is attempting to discuss becomes merely a satirical reference to itself. The story here revolves around when Stan is seriously injured at the inset of the episode to where there is no way he can possibly repair himself alone. In a normal episode, he would snap his fingers and be up. But what this examines is the psychology of need specifically in the perspective of Francine, his wife. It is a bit of a retro-feminist approach in its ideal but again is an interesting discussion. As has been been seen in many female comedian specials of late, certain aspects are biological as much as the intellectual wants to push it the other way. Francine wants to have a strong husband and yet wants to remain in control. She wants to be vulnerable and yet know exactly how a business should be run. All very apt points.
But wiring between male and female cognition is inherently different just by biological nature. What is interesting of course is that Stan doesn’t know how to traverse this gray area. For his kind of personality it is zero or extreme in terms of his approach. After Francine nurtures him back to health, he thinks he cannot survive or do anything unless she can watch over it. It is a survival mechanism balanced with a Florence Nightingale backlash. The funny thing is the rehabilitation product of choice is Stan chasing an actual trophy. When he leaves his job, he and Francine buy at trophy shop where he doesn’t want to sell trophies at. He just wants to be with Francine all day and no one else. The coup de grace is him leaving when there is no middle ground that he will even acknowledge. He buys a pickle store across the street and it literally goes down from there before a reset can occur. And life goes on. But that intention of need shows below the surface that despite everything going on Stan and Francine still have a connection.
By Tim Wassberg