308. Three Gays of the Condo

(originally aired April 13, 2003)
This is an astounding episode, in that it got the closest to physically injuring me, as my brain was violently throbbing trying to process what was going on and what the intention of the show was. My best guess is this was just their gimmick episode, where they’ll have openly gay characters and have an animated gay kiss so they can appear progressive, but meanwhile rely on stereotypes and gay jokes that have been told a thousand times over. But the fumbling of the controversial content isn’t even the worst part of this episode; here we apparently see the worst falling out Homer and Marge have ever had, to the point where it seems they’ll never get back together. Except it’s over the most asinine reason: Homer discovers a note Marge wrote way back in their younger days of how she didn’t think the two could stay together. Why is this? Well she wrote it after a romantic date wherein Homer got blasted and played Asteroids all night, forced Marge to force-feed him nachos, and end up getting carted to the hospital. Then a few days later she found out she was pregnant with Bart, leaving Homer to believe that that’s the only reason she stayed with him.

Throughout the episode, Homer acts like an incredibly thick-headed irrational maniac. Some of the interplay between him and Marge is so bizarre I can’t even make sense of it (“It’s not always going to be perfect, we’ve been married for ten years!” “Oh, I didn’t realize you’ve been counting down the years! Is it that horrible living with me?” “Well, this morning isn’t a barrel of laughs!” “It is to me!”) The problem here is that Homer couldn’t be more in the wrong: Marge’s note came about from his rampant and dangerous alcoholism, which he still exhibits. Hell the episode begins referencing her attempt at an intervention, followed by him chuckling about it while swigging down a cold one. It’s all based on Homer’s narrow-minded childish perception of Marge’s note that he thinks that she never loved him, and that’s what makes him pack his bags and leave. After we milk some easy jokes about sad single men from Kirk Van Houten, Homer ends up moving in with two gay men, Grady and Julio, the former voiced by gay comic Scott Thompson, the latter by Hank Azaria, with the most stereotypical accent imaginable.

So Grady and Julio are gay. Gay gay gay gay gay. The village they live in is gay, and Homer begins to adapt the gay, by getting manicures, a Lhasa Apso dog, and dancing shirtless like a wild man at a gay dance club, despite the fact that he’s a fat lazy slob. Any semblance of his subdued homophobia from “Homer’s Phobia” is dismissed immediately so we can move the plot forward; now Homer is one hundred percent accepting of gays everywhere! This episode could care less about actually writing material about homosexuals though; its main focus is recycling the same old jokes (people in theater are gay!) and making up gag names for storefronts (Armistead Mopeds, Victor/Victoria’s). Then we have our finale where Grady kisses Homer on the lips, despite the fact that there’s been little to no build-up of him finding Homer attractive, or even why he would. Also it just feels so offensive, like Homer’s straight, but Grady can make him gay, because gay men want to fuck all men, regardless of sexual preference. Post-kiss, Homer jumps ship and we never see these two characters again.

Even though Homer is completely in the wrong, Marge is forced to do all the heavy lifting in repairing their relationship, so with the help of Weird Al Yankovic, gets Homer to agree to go on a date with her. So what does Homer do before the big night? Get wasted. Yep. And Grady and Julio give him the drinks, then later remind him that he’s already late for the date. So did Grady sabotage the date so he could get Homer for himself? Maybe I’m thinking too much into this but it just feels so wrong. So Homer shows up to dinner drunk and Marge leaves understandably upset. In this entire show, I don’t feel one ounce of sympathy for Homer; the same shit he pulled on Marge in the past, he’s pulling on her now, with no regard or remorse until it’s way too fucking late. But Hibbert pulls a video tape out of fucking nowhere of young Marge tending to young Homer’s bedside that fateful night, and the two have a heartfelt reconciliation, even though Homer has been a childish dick to her the entire episode. This show is staggeringly wrong on so many levels; it might be one of the series’ worst. And it won the Emmy. Against Futurama‘s “Jurassic Bark.” Let that sink in.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The puzzle piece opening is pretty vacuous. I kind of like sleep-deprived Homer mashing Lenny’s face into the puzzle though. Upon completion, Flanders looks over and says, “It looks like you’re missing a piece.” Homer retorts, “Looks like you’re missing a wife!” The most tasteless line ever used in the series ever. So I’m basically disgusted by Homer right from the very start.
– The flashbacks with young Homer and Marge really feel so sour. I imagine there were rough times, but seeing Homer be so insensitive to this girl he was head-over-heels for in “The Way We Was” just feels so not right. Plus this really doesn’t help us feel any sympathy for Homer whatsoever; Marge had every right to write that letter.
– I ran long with the main review, but there’s so much wrong in this episode. All of Homer and Marge’s arguments consist of Homer being an irrational asshole, and Marge proceeding to bizarrely fan the flames (“So you mean our whole marriage you’ve just been resenting me behind my back!” “A little bit, yeah.”) But as negative as Marge gets, it’s mostly in response towards Homer’s accusations, who cuts even deeper than her, combined with the fact that he has no leg to stand on with his arguments. But in the end, it’s Marge who has to make things right, as encouraged by her own children. There’s an unbelievable exchange between Lisa and Marge that feels so, so, so wrong (“Mom, I know Dad cares about you, but his feelings are really hurt. Why don’t you just say you’re sorry?” “Lisa, marriage is a beautiful thing, but it’s also a constant battle for moral superiority, so I can’t apologize.”) If there’s a piece of dialogue that is more anti-Marge than that, then I’d like to hear it. Lisa talks to her mother like her father is a child, which he basically is. Also all of this family strife with the kids wanting their dad back and trying to mend fences, this serious storyline completely clashes with the episode’s tidal wave of terrible gay jokes. It’s like a tsunami of bullshit.
– Subtly is long gone from the series at our new look at Bachelor Arms, the pathetic apartment complex Kirk Van Houten lives at. Instead of using a light touch, instead we get an “X Days Without a Suicide” sign, then a gunshot, then the counter resets to zero. All in good taste.
– Homer arrives to the gay side of town, and who should he run into but… Smithers! Of course! I really think that sometimes the current-day writers really don’t understand some of these characters, and Smithers is definitely one of them. Smithers is not gay, he loves Mr. Burns. He’s an office sycophant, dedicated to his job and his boss, but to the utmost degree, that he is devoted to Burns and would do absolutely anything and everything for him. That’s the joke. Burns could be a woman and the joke would be the same. But now, the only joke is that Smithers is gay. Super gay. He likes men, not women. He wants to fuck men. Do you get it yet? Should we milk it further?
– Speaking of which, they originally wanted Harvey Fierstein to return as Karl in this show, which he turned down upon reading the script. You can read the whole quote here, but it basically boils down to he felt that it was just a bunch of easy gay jokes we’ve heard a million times without that clever spin or twist that made it truly Simpsony. And you know what, he’s right on the fucking money.
– I love Weird Al a lot, and I’m really bummed he’s stuck in this shit episode. He works a lot better in his second appearance in the equally controversial “That 90’s Show,” in a flashback where he still sports his glasses and mustache look. Plus it also gave us the great line, “He who is tired of Weird Al is tired with life.” But he’s the only thing in the entire episode I like, he does a great performance with both his songs (“Weird Al had fun on this show/even if it was just a brief cameo!”)

34 thoughts on “308. Three Gays of the Condo

  1. You nailed why I detest this episode. Nothing but a bunch of gay stereotypes, OOC moments, and unpleasant Homer/Marge interplay. Weird Al is the sole highlight, and even his scenes aren’t -that- good. Ugh.

    1. Also, it’s truly a mystery why “Jurassic Bark” didn’t win the Emmy, while this dog of an episode did. Maybe the Emmy committee didn’t want to let the same show win two years in a row? (“Roswell That Ends Well” won in 2002) Nah, that can’t be it, because The Simpsons has won more than once in a row before.

      I would really love to know what went on in the minds of the Emmy voting committee. To channel Roger Ebert, I would want them to look me in the eye and say that “Three Gays” was a better episode than “Jurassic Bark”, and I bet they couldn’t, because the fix was in.

      1. I all but guarantee the committee saw the gay kiss and awarded the show for being so progressive. Never mind the abundance of gay stereotyping that came before it, of course.

      2. [QUOTE]Also, it’s truly a mystery why “Jurassic Bark” didn’t win the Emmy, while this dog of an episode did. Maybe the Emmy committee didn’t want to let the same show win two years in a row? (“Roswell That Ends Well” won in 2002) Nah, that can’t be it, because The Simpsons has won more than once in a row before.[/QUOTE]

        I thought it was because “Jurassic Bark” caught heat for that depressing ending where Seymour waited all those years for Fry to come back and just laid down and died.

  2. ” Hell the episode begins referencing her attempt at an intervention, followed by him chuckling about it while swigging down a cold one.”

    Something bizarre I’ve noticed in some of your reviews is when you describe scenes like this one… I usually end up chuckling to myself a bit, because in theory it could have been a funny scene. If non-zombie Simpsons had done a scene where “Homer chuckles and drinks while reminescing about an alcohol intervention”, it probably would have been great. But the actual execution of the scene in zombiesimpsonsland is… well, you know… not good.

    It’s weird to think about. Some of these episodes have a good idea or whatever, they just don’t know what to do with any of it.

  3. I think my day was just ruined by the knowledge this episode was even nominated for an Emmy, much less won the Emmy, much less won it over Jurassic Bark.

    What human emotion did this episode display that was as heartbreaking and soul-crushing as the feeling all of us get while watching Jurassic Bark. I can’t even watch that episode because it rips down to my very soul, and brings me to shoulder-heaving sobs at the very thought of a future without my best friend. It’s so powerful and heart-wrenching that I am in tears right now as I type about it.

    I can’t watch this episode because it offends me down to my very core that this is what the writers think gay life is; That this is how every gay person is, and how we live. As a gay female with many gay male friends, this could not be more off the mark. For the same reason I canot watch Flaming Moe, this episode sickens me because it ultimately ends up being an incredibly homophobic, offensive, and entirely incorrect display of the gay culture.

    And it was awarded for this?

    What [very] little faith I had left in award shows after Shakespeare In Love won Best Picture in 1999, and Julia Roberts won Best Actress over Ellen Burstyn in 2001 has just been absolutely demolished.

    For shame, ATAS. For shame, NATAS. For shame, ZombieSimpsons writers.

    1. Those awards shows aren’t always right. Take some comfort in the fact that there are people out there who like “Jurassic Bark” and either haven’t seen, hate, or don’t even remember anything about “Three Gays of the Condo”.

  4. This episode won an emmy? Why? We already had this episode before. It was called “Homer’s Phobia” and “Secrets of a Successful Marriage.”

  5. The thing about an episode like this is, in 2003 when it aired, television was was becoming much more open towards allowing homosexuality on screen. That really wasn’t the case for Homer’s Phobia, and it certainly wasn’t the case for season 2’s Simpson and Delilah. And yet, even with more restrictions, those episodes dealt with homosexuality in a more realistic way than this episode. Those episodes created real characters; this episode falls back on homosexual cliches. In other words, the writers for this episode had greater freedom but did less with it, whiles the writers of those two previous episodes had less freedom but still did more with it.

    It’s not surprising, though. As this has gone on, it’s become more obvious with each episode that the writers at this time liked to fall back on cliches and stereotypes rather than create real characters and real dialogue. Of course they would rather create stereotypical homosexual characters than fresh ones like Karl and John.

  6. Oh yeah, I just watched this episode with the commentary track, mostly because Weird Al was on it and I wanted to know their feelings about it winning an emmy, but they spent like 17 minutes talking about nonsense and 4 minutes actually talking about the episode. It was a waste of viewing this episode again.

    1. You throw away 22 minutes of your life so we don’t have to.

      I don’t use the word “hero” often, but you, sir, are the greatest hero in American history.

  7. Guys, the Emmys are the biggest farce anyone’s ever seen. Is anybody really that surprised that they’d do something like this?

    I’m just baffled at the fact that Marge was able to get somebody like Weird Al on short notice.

  8. Knowing that this beat Futurama for an Emmy makes me want to punch a wall.

    The aforementioned Harvey Fierstein quote is pure gold, and couldn’t be more appropriate. The writers completely forgot what made “Homer’s Phobia” a classic and instead just took advantage of the fact that TV standards regarding homosexuality had loosened in the six years since that episode, then crammed in every hacky gay stereotype they could think up in an afternoon. It’s sickening to think that this is what The Simpsons is now.

    1. Not to mention the fact that Homer’s Phobia was hilarious, and even now I can still quote almost that entire episode. Whereas Three Gays and a Condo… Well let’s just say I didn’t even remember that Weird Al was in it.

      I can laugh at gay stereotypes when they are funny or if they are so ridiculous it is painfully obvious the writers are being ironic. I don’t get easily offended about much of anything. But when something is so horrible I don’t even laugh, I don’t care what it’s about, I am offended as an appreciator of the comedic arts.

      Seirously, how low of an IQ do the writers think their fans have these days?

  9. “Post-kiss, Homer jumps ship and we never see these two characters again.”

    They’ve actually brought Grady back a couple of times now. I know he was in “Flaming Moe” from season 22, and probably one or two others.

  10. I didn’t have TV as a kid, so I grew up watching Simpsons episodes on tape. The latest season I had anything from was Season 9, and that was just one or two episodes. I went YEARS without realizing what the show had degenerated into—I just assumed, hey, they’ve been good for almost a decade, why would they change now?

    So when I read somewhere that Karl—one of my favorite one-off characters ever—turned down a reappearance, I was shocked and disappointed. Years later I saw this episode, and I realized how right Fierstein was. I really wish someone had thought to bring back Karl during the golden years, when they would have been able to handle his enigmatic character properly.

  11. I also hate this episode. But not sure I agree with you about Smithers not being gay. In “Homer the Smithers”, season 7, Smithers goes on holiday to an all-male resort and is seen driving a boat with a pyramid of gay men floating behind him. In “Bart after dark”, season 8, when Smithers is seen leaving the burlesque house, he says to Mr burns “my parents insisted I give it a try”. Don’t these things suggest general gayness? I agree he is majorly fixated on Mr Burns, but I think from the start he’s also supposed to be gay in general.
    But it is really irritating in later Simpsons to see this has become his only personality trait.
    (Please excuse my bad grammar, I’m on my smartphone)

    1. Agreed. They have given hints out over the years pertaining to his sexual orientation regardless of his sycophantic admiration over his own boss, but nevertheless he has been pretty much gay. Some of the writers clash over this about whether or not the sexual attraction holds only dearly for his boss and his boss only, but over the years before season 10 they have given leeway that his attraction is strictly male oriented. However, today the writers seem to gloss over Smithers’ other traits in favor of standing him up only as a punchline for a gay joke. This narrow personification makes me miss the written rationality he displayed – despite the obtuse toadying he had that made him gloss over certain moral objections just to please his boss.

      1. Yeah, writers always made quite clear Smithers is gay, but his sexual orientation has always been subordinate, almost as a consequence, to his love for Burns, not the contrary. Thats what Mike mean.

      2. Don’t forget about “So this is your ‘sick mother’?” in Homer’s Phobia and “Sideshow Bob’s views conflict with my… choice of lifestyle” in Sideshow Bob Roberts.

  12. Completely spot on.. You don’t have to be gay to see how offensive it is that one of those guys would wanna shag Homer. The entire episode was a complete mess and Harvey Fierstein was damn right to refuse to appear. If only more actors were like him.
    Whoever thought this episode was worth an Emmy needs locking up. Even the worst Futurama episode was better than this shit, but for Jurassic Bark to lose is just awful.

  13. I’m shocked this even got nominated for an Emmy. This is just fucking awful from start to finish. The Homer/Marge stuff is ridiculous because as Mike said Homer is 100% in the wrong but for some reason it’s Marge who has to try and fix things, why?
    Then there’s all the gay stuff which is just so incredibly lazy it’s almost staggering.

    Jurassic Bark is an absolute classic and it’s incredible how it deals with such a bizarre idea (cloning your dog from 1000 years ago) in a much more realistic manner than basically any plot point on The Simpsons in the last few years.

  14. This might be my least favorite episode of the series (though, in fairness, there are about 250 or so that I have not and will never see). Awful portrayal of Homer (young and old) and Marge and OMG GAY PPL R SOOO FUNNY AMIRITE?!

    Jesus F. Christ, the fact that this episode beat out “Jurassic Bark,” one of the sweetest and most heartbreaking episodes of any show I’ve ever seen…arrgh, it’s infuriating.

  15. “Homer’s Phobia” handled homosexuality in a much better way than this. It’s also notable in the 180 on Homer’s attitude: in the former, he’s close-minded and starts working to stop Bart from becoming gay, but here he decides to roll with the gay lifestyle just because he and Marge are going through a break-up? That’s so OOC of Homer when you remember the show’s history.
    Also, one thing I think is funny (rhetorically speaking) is how Julio was the flaming one, and yet in the end came off as being more decent and mindful of Homer’s sexuality than his less stereotypical partner.
    Speaking of that, one small moment I like is, when the family goes to their apartment to convince Homer to come back, Lisa praises Julio’s hair dye. That’s such a small moment, but something so innocent it made me smile a little amidst the bore the rest of the episode was (although I liked Weird Al’s bit too, and I agree he’s wasted on a show like this).

  16. I totally forgot this episode won and emmy and I don’t even know why. I just watched this one the other day and it was pretty lifeless. Now, I have never seen Jurassic Bark, so I’m not sure what that episode has that warrants an emmy either, but I’m sure it is better than this shitshow.

    Now I did like the puzzle bit at the beginning as I did chuckle at a few scenes such as when Bart was working on the puzzle during lunch. And as you said, tired Homer was hilarious. I actually did not consciously think about the line, “Looks like you’re a missing wife,” when I watched it, but holy shit that really was messed up.

    Beyond that, this episode exists. Like many episodes from Season 31, I watched it and it ended. That’s all I’ve got. I have no freaking idea what the hell was going on nor why Homer ended up in a place with some gay dudes, nor why they had to be gay. As you said, it was just a bunch of gay jokes and they weren’t even all that funny. Also, was anyone else thrown off by Julio’s sudden hair color change? It was like whiplash too me and I was distracted by it to the point that I don’t even remember anything that happened other than Weird Al showing up. Then like 5 minutes later they have Lisa mention it, which seemed awkward because I don’t even remember her even meeting him with his black hair. Either way, it made little sense and I’m not sure why they did that. I thought it was an animation error initially.

    The only thing I will say positive about this episode is that it isn’t “Bonfires of the Manatee” bad, but I think this might be the first sign of Marge’s Stockhomersyndrome. Though I haven’t watched Seasons 12 and 13 yet, so maybe I’m wrong.

  17. These reactions seems overly harsh … a lot of The Simpsons is stereotypical and Homer being jerky is pretty constant through the era this was from, you’ve got to expect at least some amount in almost any episode from around the time.

  18. That Homer became such a jerk is a bad thing but it happened long before here and I didn’t think this episode was a particularly bad or extreme instance of it.

  19. I loved Scott Thompson a lot better on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, where he played a whore named “Dusty Gozongas”. Hell, even the name of his character is funnier than anything in this episode!

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