370. Bart Has Two Mommies

(originally aired March 19, 2006)
Man alive… not only is this episode boring, confusing and dumb, but it’s got a message. This show has integrated morals and characters learning lessons before, I guess, but here it’s so obvious and ham-fisted, like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon. There’s very little story here, so it’ll be quick to burn through. Marge starts to babysit Rod and Todd Flanders, and is surprised to find they’re even more milquetoast and namby-pamby than their father. She tries to open their eyes to more “daring” things like using a see-saw and playing Clue, which worries a paranoid Flanders. Now, Ned has always been somewhat cautionary, but never to this extent: he forces his kids to crawl up the stairs after he finds Todd had cut himself, and his idea of a fun activity is staring at bread. There’s a slightly saddening explanation that Ned has become especially protective because since Maude passed away, the kids are all he has, but the seriousness of that is just buried under a barrage of stupid jokes that are ridiculous. Vilifying Uno and bubble wrapping trees? Come on.

A B-story gives us our episode name, which is definitely one of the more bizarre titles of the whole series, and I don’t entirely understand why they chose it. Is it like a gay thing, like he has lesbian parents? Anyway, Bart is kidnapped by a mother ape at the zoo, who is yearning for her actual son, who turns out to be Mr. Teeny. Both stories come to a head when the monkey takes Bart to the top of the newly constructed church steeple, and someone needs to swap him with Teeny. Having climbed a rock wall earlier at a kid fun zone, Rod opts to go, and now Ned must learn to encourage his son and tell him to believe in himself. Excuse me while I go vomit all over myself. It even has a pathetic music cue to go with it as Ned brings himself to let his son go. It feels so goddamn forced, and when the episode ends with Rod ignorantly screaming that he’s gay, the tonal shift couldn’t be more stark. This show used to reign supreme in terms of expertly balancing emotional moments with snark, but nowadays, they’re woefully lost on that point. In the end, this episode’s as disposable as they come.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The church fair at the beginning is a mixed bag. I like Lenny and Carl’s bluntness (“Ah, it’s all a big scam.” “This booth?” “No, religion in general,”) but the hell mirror is just dumb. Lovejoy’s fundraiser to build a bigger steeple to one-up the neighboring Unitarian church works, but then they ruin it by having to explain it further as Lovejoy mutters that it compensates for his “sense of smallness.” The duck race is boring, and just another excuse to put Homer through as much laugh-less pain as possible.
– I like Bart and Lisa’s reckless indoor jousting, if only that it shows Lisa being a fun-loving kid again, for once.
– Rod and Todd being so safe and lame feels weird to me, it’s just played up to as ridiculous a level as Ned’s paranoia is. We don’t know the kids as well as him so I can’t exactly pinpoint why it seems so wrong, but it just feels too exaggerated.
– I don’t exactly know how Homer covered for Bart’s absence for so long, save for the endless scene where he goes on a sarcastic tirade. “Help me, Lisa! I have serious mental problems!” No shit. Also, wouldn’t the ape have to sleep at one point and then Bart could make his escape? Or better yet, just tranquilize it and it’s a done deal. The plot could be over within a few minutes. Also Homer has a peach full of antifreeze, which he holds onto instead of rolling into her cage, and sure enough she would probably eat it. Instead he eats the poisoned fruit, and later accidentally inhales his own tranquilizer dart. Homer in pain = funny!!
– Lovejoy tries to comfort Marge by showing her the plaque they’ve made for the new steeple “just in case”: Bart Simpson Memorial Steeple. What a horrible thing for him to do, and how the fuck did he have time to print a plaque based on something that had just happened?
– During Teeny and his mother’s reunion, for some reason we get a quick flashback to Homer cuddling his rubber duck. What’s that about? Whatever. This is one of the most boring shows ever. Right next to that astronomy episode.

28 thoughts on “370. Bart Has Two Mommies

  1. The fact that this episode aired on my birthday depresses me, but is saved by immediately remembering Lisa’s Wedding aired on my birthday too.

    1. Hey, it aired the day I turned 21 as well. However, I never saw it, so that’s a plus. And “Lisa’s Wedding” to me is just okay. In fact, a lot of season six episodes to me felt like the writers were trying too hard to be funny (the only exceptions to this are the episode where The Simpsons get a pool and Bart breaks his leg and spies on Flanders, the Treehouse of Horror with “The Shinning,” the one where Homer is accused of sexually abusing a babysitter, the lemon tree episode, the Critic crossover episode, and the teacher’s strike episode), then from season seven on, a switch went off in the show’s head and it started to get gimmicky (which was fun at first, but grew tiresome and now won’t quit). What I’m saying is, “This show should have ended at the fifth season.”

      1. Yeah, I’ve got to agree with The Ef on this one. If you didn’t like seasons 6 and 7, maybe The Simpsons isn’t the show for you.

      1. Which episodes are you referring to on those?

        The only episode I can think of with Homer dreaming in 19 was “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind,” which was a fantastic episode.

      2. Yay for Marcus! I really really like “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind”; yeah, the ending doesn’t make sense but the jokes, pacing, and random little bits (and the great lonely atmosphere, the great visuals of Homer in the snow, and so on) make it … probably the best episode of zombie simpsons ever. Which still isn’t as good as a regular episode. But it’s far and away the best ZS episode ever, along with holidays of futures passed, though weekend at burnsies and homr and hungry hungry homer are all episodes I like too… if we’re counting season 12 and onward as zombie.

        So, 5 episodes I like in 13 years.

  2. Using “Powerhouse” as Homer gets pulverized by the old mill only succeeds in making me wish I was watching “And Maggie Makes Three”. Other than that, I don’t remember a thing about this one, and I really don’t want to. Post-classic Flanders episodes have been nothing but garbage.

  3. “Right next to that astronomy episode”

    you’ve prompted me to go listen to Blue Oyster Cult. Thanks Mike!!!

  4. The title’s a reference to ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’, a children’s book about a child raised by lesbians. It was, unsurprisingly, a very controversial book when it was released (late 80s, early 90s sort of time).

      1. Oh yes he does but what he would have said about Zombie Simpsons would’ve been even better xD

      2. God Patrick, to have Hicks’ wisdom in today’s era. Man. I would kill somebody to hear him rant about 9/11 for example. I just always think, ‘What would Hicks say/think?’

        No one has really ever stepped up to the Hicks role since then have they? I mean I love Larry David (who isn’t quite a “standup comedian” somuch but is still funny as fuck and unique) and Louis CK (who is brilliant but his humor is a bit less sharp than Hicks) and a few others but overall just no one even comes CLOSE to Hicks since he passed. Sad.

    1. [Re: “Isn’t that the one with the reporter who takes interest in Abe so he can then kill him?”]

      No, the episode you’re thinking of is “Thursdays with Abie” from season 21, which isn’t nearly as bad.

  5. The Bart plot is one of the most pointless in the show’s history. As you said, the plot could be over in five minutes. But in the idiot plot, everyone has to act like, well, an idiot to sustain a contrived conflict.

    The Flanders plot, while not great, at least had more “substance” to it, in that Marge was teaching Rod & Todd to break free of their extremely cautious upbringing. Still, it had more of the usual caricatured, ultra conservative Christian stereotypes and painfully “written” dialog: “Call me Ned Zeppelin, but is one of my boys abraised and contused?!” Seriously, who talks like that?

    I did like Homer taking Ned’s computer, despite that he lost the duck race. It was more his impatient attitude when Ned began to talk about how creepy he thought computers were that got a laugh: “Just put it in the trunk and leave.”

  6. Marcus the episode i was on about involves homer dreaming about suffocating his own father and saying it was a good dream :/ i feel sick talking about that :/

    1. For anyone who doesn’t remember, it was “Papa Don’t Leech”. But yes, that might well be the single most horrifying scene in the show ever.

      1. Isn’t that the one with the reporter who takes interest in Abe so he can then kill him? If so, yeah, that was a bad episode.

    2. For those who don’t know, the dream where Homer suffocates Abe is a recreation of a similar scene from “The Sopranos”. It was a rather out-of-place part of the episode, though. Maybe it would’ve made more sense in an episode about Abe slowly driving Homer insane, I dunno.

  7. I’ve got nothing positive to say about this episode other than I remember it airing the day after I saw V for Vendetta because it had the music in it from when they were blowing up Parliament in it.

    Oh, but I should talk about the episode.

    Did we really need another Vertigo bit when it was already down 15 years prior with “Principal Charming?” Also, when the hell did Ned become a safety nazi? That is not at all in character with the man who severed Homer drinks and accepted Homer’s challenge to wear a dress to the losing child for the mini golf game.

    I did like the scene though when Homer sneaks out of the house and Ned makes a joke of it without a care in the world. At least, I think I did. I watched this last night and now I can’t remember if I laughed at it or not.

    The Bart plot is so awful though. It really ruins the entire thing. If you took this entire thing out and ended with Marge getting Ned to encourage Rod at the foam wall, it would have been a fine sweet episode. Maybe they could have gone into why Ned is all about them being careful. Perhaps make it a psychological episode about how he is now afraid of losing one of them after Maude’s death or… you know what, nevermind, it isn’t even worth my time.

  8. The only thing I think is funny, if only for how accurate it is depending on the angle you see it from, is Bart’s explanation of what “gay” means. Other than that, I have nothing against this episode, aside from Ned’s stupid overprotectiveness. I used to like his character because he was an all-around nice guy who served as a foil to Homer, even when the latter wasn’t the retarded, selfish, childish asshole he is today, but now he’s just this dull holier-than-thou character whose personality revolves around being better than everyone and unaccepting of free speech (“Noooo!” “[gasp] The N-word!”). Although Maude’s pointless death might have served as a catalyst, and there is evidence of him becoming this type of character before (“Home Sweet Homediddily-Dum-Doodily” comes to mind, despite the point being to serve as a total reversal of the Simpsons’ home life) this is just one of many examples of what was made of his character, culminating with “You Kent Always Say What You Want”.

  9. Obviously a certain lack of ‘realism’ in animation can be hand-waved, but I found it rather lazy that after seeing Homer get really banged up following his duck, we see him seconds later appearing out of the reeds at the riverside, not a scratch on him, shirt in pristine condition.

    On a positive note, Mike, the opening line of your review reminds me of one of my absolute favourite lines/deliveries:

    “Man alive, there are…. men alive in here!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s