I know a lot of people are like ‘one or both of the Stans had to be lying about something that happened in ATOTS because things don’t match up so I don’t trust what happened in the episode’ and while I definitely can’t defend anything narrated by Ford because I’m VERY suspicious, I disagree with the part of this idea aimed at Stanley.
Because the thing is, they EXPLICITLY had him lie about something, and it was shown in a very specific way: When he told the kids he was doing great after traveling the country, except the animation showed he was literally living in his car and getting by on scratch cards. That he tried to call Ford, only to hang up without saying anything.
Ford and the kids may not know those details, but we, the audience, definitely do. It’s a classic bit of Dramatic Irony.
The writers wouldn’t single out that one moment of Stan lying if they didn’t want to show that the audience is getting a much deeper look at the backstory than Ford and the kids are.
So I personally think that, while Stan clearly didn’t give away the WHOLE story, and that he definitely lied to the kids at certain points, what we as an audience saw on screen is probably the most truthful and accurate presentation of Stan’s life we’ve gotten thusfar.
Which makes me wonder; How did Stan’s narration description of the science fair go?
There’s a lot of speculation that Stan wasn’t actually the one to break Ford’s experiment. We as an audience can pick that up because they explicitly show how Stan tried to fix it, and compare that to how it looked (way worse) when Ford has to present it.
But Ford himself may never got the full story, even 40+ years after the fact.
All he knew when he was a teenager was that Stan left behind a back of snacks, and that Stan was ‘accidentally horsing around’ near the project and broke it. And when Ford comes back out of the portal, how do we know Stan’s description of the whole thing was anything more than ‘I got angry and accidentally broke the science fair project’? Does he ever tell Ford how he tried to fix it, or has he just accepted the idea that he screwed it up? Does Stan know that Ford found broken it in WAY worse condition than Stan left it in?
It’s all another example of Dramatic Irony.
The audience knows what happened, but do either of THEM know? How much of their falling out is just because they never fully explained their side of the story??
TL;DR – ATOTS has Dramatic Irony out the wazoo and christ on a cracker do these dumb old men seriously need to have a more in-depth talk.